A historic day in Art and Design Education Leadership

After 25 years of membership, Marlene Wylie has become President of the National Society for Education in Art and Design (NSEAD).

Marlene, an artist, designer, educator and consultor, was handed the stunning Presidential Chain by Past-President Liz MacFarlane at a National Council meeting at the Whitworth Gallery, Manchester, on Saturday 28 January 2023. Marlene will be in post as President until December 2024.

Having trained originally as a textiles designer, Marlene has taught art, craft and design in inner and outer London multicultural primary and secondary schools for over 20 years.

Marlene has delivered whole school training, from Foundation Stage EYFS to Secondary Level, as well as to trainee teachers on ITE programmes. 

Marlene has been a long-serving member of NSEAD, involved in the governance of the society for many years. As a member of NSEAD’s Council and twice serving on the Finance and General Purposes Committee, Marlene has helped to ensure that NSEAD remains a stable and progressive Trade Union, Subject Association and Learned Society, throughout the many recent global and domestic challenges faced by our sector.

In 2020, Marlene was a founding member of the Anti-Racist Art Education Action (ARAEA) group, which is committed to challenging racism and identifying what it looks like in art, craft, and design education. The group has contributed a combination of expertise and lived voice to createthree Anti-Racist Art Education checklists to support members and partner organisations in the review of their Curriculums, Publications and School Resources.The checklistsaim to support art educators in becoming and being actively anti-racist. 

In 2022, Marlene steered the creation of NSEAD’s new Black Art Educators (UBAE) Network: a new self-organised network group for Black educators, students and individuals from the wider NSEAD membership and community. The group is dedicated to supporting the emotional wellbeing and resilience of Black art educators, celebrating their cultures and experiences, amongst its other aims.

As well as her consultancy work, Marlene is also the Visualise Project Lead for the Runnymede Trust. She leads the Visualising Inclusive Practice team and project, which aims to deliver the first major research commission into access to the visual arts for Black, Asian and minority ethnic students. She oversees the project including the overall research design and implementation as part of the wider arts and arts education space in the UK.

Recently, as guest editor of NSEAD’s AD Magazine (issue 36), Marlene curated a varied collection of features and articles dedicated to the advancement and celebration of anti-racist conversations, journeys and actions, interviewing Yinka Shonibare CBE and Dame Magdalene Odundo. 

In her presidential address published in the special issue of AD (p.18-19), she reflects on her own journey through art and education, which has led her to become the first Black president of NSEAD, signalling a clear commitment and vision for equity and access to art, craft and design, and a historic moment for our subject and its educators. 


Marlene says: ‘As art educators we are powerful, our ability to enable every child to see their authentic selves through inclusive practice holds the key to unlock many of the issues that thwart us today in 21st- century Britain. 

‘As President of NSEAD 2023-24, I am encouraged that, as a Society, we recognise that we have a duty to be part of true continued change. My greatest burden at this point in my life and career is making a lasting difference to art education so that all can see themselves represented.’ 


We thank Marlene for her tireless and loyal contribution to the Society, as a member, and now as our President.

You can follow Marlene on Twitter @InfoWylie and on LinkedIn here.