Department of History of Art and Archaeology

Dr Polly Savage

Key information

Department of History of Art and Archaeology Lecturer in the Art History of Africa
Department of History of Art and Archaeology
BA (SOAS), MA (Goldsmiths), PhD (RCA), FHEA
Russell Square: College Buildings
Email address
Support hours
Fridays 9.30-11.30


Polly Savage teaches and writes on art theory, curating, and the visual arts in Africa and the African diaspora. She has worked on a range of curatorial and research projects across Africa, Brazil and the Caribbean over the last two decades, and held a curatorial post at London's October Gallery for 5-years.

She has an MA in Postcolonial Studies from Goldsmiths and a PhD in Curating Contemporary Art from the Royal College of Art, and has taught at several other universties including Leeds, Goldsmiths and Birkbeck. Her most recent research focuses on the visual cultures of decolonisation and the Cold War in Lusophone Africa.

Research interests

My research projects have shared a concern to critically analyse the relations between art and political power in Africa. Most recently, my work has explored the visual subjectivities of decolonisation, transnationalism and socialism in Africa, with particular focus on Lusophone Africa. My forthcoming book Um So Povo: Art, Solidarity and the Mozambican Revolution comprises the first in-depth study of Africa’s Cold War visual art networks.

Analysing the aesthetic geographies of solidarity with Mozambique’s liberation struggle, it focuses on the mobilisation of images in the context of conflict and revolution, and considers how Mozambican artists responded to the pedagogies and curatorial appropriations of the socialist world. My first book, Making Art in Africa 1960-2010 (Lund Humphries, 2014) compiled first-hand accounts from artists and curators in 13 countries across Africa, offering a broad overview of contemporary practice on the continent.

PhD Supervision

Name Title
Ms Arjmand Aziz Ahmad Exhibiting Australian Aboriginal Contemporary art in Britain: the case of two galleries in London
Kiyoko Mitsuyama-Wdowiak
Joy Onyejiako The cultural interactions of West African carving relief imagery (Luso ivories) in the decorative arts and architectural designs of notable English Tudor Mansions. (1550 - 1650)
Katy Shahandeh Rising from the Ashes: The Semiotics of Subversion in the Works of Contemporary Iranian Women Artists of the "Burnt Generation" (working title).


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