Dr. Emma Watts

Assistant Professor
Art History, Economy and Ecology of Art, Visual Culture

Dr. Emma Watts is an Art Historian with an interest in the Economy and Ecology of Art; Late 19th Century Graphic Visual Culture; The Material Life of Things. She was awarded her PhD at University of York, UK and has worked in various capacities across academia, fine art and creative industries in the UK, Australia and Hong Kong. She has developed National and tertiary curricula, been active in policy, planning, cultural strategy, collection management and advisory boards for Heritage, Visual Arts, Museums and education.

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She currently lectures and writes core curriculum and specialist courses on a variety of art historical themes and currently has five research postgraduate supervisions.

Dr. Emma Watts’ research has developed around and about the responses to visual art and culture from the perspective of the economy and ecology of art. Her PhD examined British Art and its Exhibitions in late 19th Century Colonial Australia. This research positioned the accumulation of cultural capital as a trans-cultural exchange and, as an economic and political tool in the creation of the colonial cultural environment. Her research has continued to center around these perspectives and currently includes ongoing research on the accumulation of cultural capital with focus on the international art markets in Hong Kong, how the art market structures differ from other world cities and how they have developed. This research has resulted in major funding and an extended examination of the art markets, the creative ecologies and audience production.

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Curatorial, Workshops, Symposiums and other outputs

In the Age of Art: Consumption to Production – Symposium #2. CVA Gallery Space, Communication and Visual Art Building, 5 Renfrew Road, Kowloon Tong, Hong Kong. 28 April 2017.

ConnectXChange – Art History App available on App Play Store and App Store. September 2017

In the Age of Art: Consumption to Production – Environment, Gentrification and Art Basel #1 –Research Film Production. Andrew Hevia, Fullbright Research Scholar. Film Premier (directors cut). 24 September 2016

Art Ecology and Education: Ting Wing Yan Vivian & Emma Watts, Unpacking Global, Asia Art Archive at Art Basel Hong Kong, Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, Wan Chai, Hong Kong. May 6, 2013.

Watts, Emma. Ingenious: Past Present and Future. Ingenious Media, 23 June – 1 September. London. 2009.

Cultural eXchanges Art Trail – De Montfort University, Leicester, UK. 2006 and 2007

Fluxus Exchange Art Programme – De Montfort University, Leicester, UK. 2007

This Is Serious, The Bridge Foundation, Gippsland Art Gallery, Sale, Australia. June-September, 2004.

Grants & Funding

University Grants Council Hong Kong – GRF. Watts, Emma. “A Constructed Ethnography: The History of the Ephemeral Export Images of Hong Kong.” (2017 pending)

University Grants Council Hong Kong. Developing Multidisciplinary and Multicultural Competences through Gamification and Challenge-Based Collaborative Learning. Collaborative grant with Centre for Holistic Teaching & Learning (CHTL), HKBU. (2017)

Hong Kong BU, (CHTL) TDG – Envisioning the Past: A Visual Culture Social Engagement Project. (December 2017 -May 2018)

Robert Ho Foundation, TOE project – Constructing Ethnography: The Export Image of Hong Kong (Sept 2014 -May 2015)

University Grants Council Hong Kong – GRF – ECS – The Cultural Consumption of Visual Art in Hong Kong – (Sept 2014-April 2017).

Hong Kong BU, (CHTL) Strategic Research Development Fund – The Ecology of Art in Hong Kong. (Sept 2013- August 2014).

Hong Kong BU, Faculty Research Grant I – Mapping the Hong Kong Art Markets (Jan 2012 -August 2012)

Watts, Emma. “The Constructed Ethnography: Exporting the image of Hong Kong”. (Expected publication 2019)

Watts, Emma. “The Material History of Design in Britain”. (Expected publication mid-2019)

Watts, Emma. “In the Age of Art: From Consumption to Production, Art Market Ecology in Hong Kong”. (Expected publication late-2018)

Watts, Emma. “In the Age of Art: From Consumption to Production, Art Market Ecology in Hong Kong.” In Hong Kong Visual Arts Yearbook 2017. Department of Fine Arts, The Chinese University of Hong Kong. Publication July 2018.

Watts, Emma. “Art Interchange. War and Peace Exhibition at the Royal Academy, London, 1918.” Paper presented at Painters and the First World War. Orders, Productions, Collections. Towards a Comparative Story. Université Paris-Ouest Nanterre La Defense, Paris, France. 4-6 December 2014.

Watts, Emma and Ting, Wang Yan Vivian. “Engaging in Art: On Art Ecology and Cultural Consumption in Hong Kong.” Paper presented at Ninth International Conference on The Arts in Society. Sapienza University of Rome, Italy. 25-27 June 2014.

Watts, Emma. “The Annunciation.” In Transpose – Contemporary Ink Paintings, Koon Wai Bong. Museum of East Asian Art, Bath. 2013

Watts, Emma. “Resting on a Red Leaf.” In Transpose: Contemporary Ink Paintings, Koon Wai Bong. Museum of East Asian Art, Bath. 2013

Watts, Emma. “Assessing Influence: Art, Auctions and Audiences in Hong Kong.” In Hong Kong Visual Arts Yearbook 2013. Department of Fine Arts, The Chinese University of Hong Kong. 2013

Watts, Emma. “Images in a Meta Landscape – The Work of Ng Sai Kit.” Klack, Hong Kong. 2012

Watts, Emma. “Eastern Art through Western Eye.” In Synergy Between Traditional And Contemporary Chinese Calligraphy And Seal Engraving, Daniel Chak-Kwong Lau. Asia One Books, Hong Kong. 2011

Watts, Emma. “British Art – Exhibitions and Reception in Late Nineteenth Century Australia.” Paper presented at Empire State of Mind: Articulations of British Culture in the Empire, 1707­-1997. Lingnan University, Hong Kong. 24-27 May 2011.

Watts, Emma. “The Comic Critic: The Satirical Representation of Fine Art.” Paper presented at Modernist Magazines Conference. Universities of Nottingham. 12-14 July 2007.

Watts, Emma. “The Multi – Cultural Symbols Embedded in British Culture.” Paper presented at Englishness: Embodiment, Identity and the Hero(ine). University of the Balearic Islands Palma de Mallorca, Spain. 28-29 September 2006.


Early Career Award, University Grants Committee, Hong Kong. 2014

E-Learning Innovation Award, De Montfort University, Leicester, UK. 2006

Dr. Watts encourages a critical examination of assumptions about art, art history, visual culture and the ecologies of art. Through the study and application of art theory and philosophies of art, major currents in art history and art theory provide avenues for exploring and understanding historical and contemporary art and visual culture. These themes and subjects help artists better understand their own work, the reception of their work, potential audiences and provide means of contextualizing and discussing their creative practice.

The ecologies of art and the economies of the creative industries are further perspectives in understanding the visual and material world both past and present.