Dr Alison Barnes

A_BarnesAlison’s research focuses on the differing roles graphic design can play in the mediation, construction and communication of everyday life, belonging and identity. This enables her to draw together a range of different contexts in which graphic design is a key vehicle for the negotiation of place. In research terms, the role of graphic design in this context remains relatively under studied. Alison often uses creative methods to understand and represent everyday life and place in urban contexts and has developed innovative interdisciplinary geo/graphic methodologies drawing on graphic design, cultural geography and anthropology. Alison’s current research centres on ‘graphic heritage’, which can be defined as any object through which we experience or are informed about heritage in graphic form. Such a broad definition can therefore be extended to contexts beyond formally managed and designed heritage sites. One area of focus for her work is food and conviviality, particularly in diverse urban contexts. The graphic heritage of shop signs or food packaging, for example, is implicit in the creation of everyday heritage spaces—emerging in place through practice and often fundamental to a sense of identity and belonging. The analysis of the design of such graphic heritage is, therefore, able to bring a further nuanced understanding of ways communities reflect their differing heritages in their making of place.


  • 2012, PhD in Cultural Geography, University of the Arts London
  • 2003, MA Typo/Graphics, University of the Arts London
  • 1996, BA (Hons) Graphic Design, Nottingham Trent University

Areas of Research

  • Everyday heritage spaces
  • Food, belonging and identity
  • Mapping as a critical practice

Selected Publications

Barnes, A. (2022) Tracing the graphic heritage of Hackney’s migrant communities through food, in Wang, C & Lamb, T (eds), Bridging Borders, Creating Spaces: Negotiating Identities, Language and Migration in Global London, Multilingual Matters (Forthcoming).

Barnes, A. (2019) Creative representations of place (opens in a new window), London: Routledge.

Barnes, A. (2019) Geo/graphic design (opens in a new window), in Boyd, C & Edwardes, C (eds), Non-representational theory and the creative arts, Palgrave MacMillan. pp. 19–32.

Barnes, A. (2017) Telling stories: The role of graphic design and branding in the creation of authenticity through food packaging (opens in a new window), International Journal of Food Design, 2(2), pp. 183–202.

Pink, S, Catanzaro, M, Sandbach, K, Barnes, A, McNeill, J, Gutresh, M & Scotece, E. (2015) Making and sharing the commons in riverlands Sydney?: Reimagining “the West” through a dialogue between design (opens in a new window), ethnography and theory, Global Media Journal, 10(1), np.

Barnes, A. (2013) Geo/graphic design: The liminal space of the page (opens in a new window), Geographical Review, 103(2), pp. 164–176.

Barnes, A. (2012) Thinking geo/graphically: The interdisciplinary space between graphic design and cultural geography (opens in a new window), Polymath: An Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences Journal, 2(3), pp. 69–84.

Barnes, A. (2012) Repositioning the graphic designer as researcher (opens in a new window), Iridescent, 2(1), pp. 3–17.

Barnes, A. (2007) Geo/graphic mapping, cultural geographies (opens in a new window), 14(1), pp. 139–147.