SHE has been a teenage pop star, a pin-up, a feminist icon and one of the most original late 20th-Century artists.

Since making her debut with her first single Wuthering Heights back in 1978, she has also been labelled an eccentric and a recluse.

She has also been popular with female impressionists who love making fun of her early vocal style.

But now Kate Bush has become the subject of academic study. A two-day symposium on the artist titled This Woman’s Work will take place at the Edinburgh College of Art (ECA) in the capital next Thursday and Friday.

Academics will be presenting papers to an audience of fellow academics and fans on topics ranging from gender subversion to folk horror in the Bush’s work.

“It’s not your stereotypical dry academic conference,” said Dr Johnny Murray, one of the event’s organisers. Bush’s biographer (and sometime Herald contributor) Graeme Thomson is also attending, as is photographer Max Browne who shot her 1979 tour.

Mr Murray, who is senior lecturer in film and visual culture at ECA, has put the symposium together with his colleague Dr Glyn Davis. They have previously arranged symposiums on the Pet Shop Boys and Grace Jones.

The reason they have chosen to focus on Bush, he explained, is because she is “completely unique”.

He added: “She is incredibly curious, intellectually speaking. A lot of her work takes reference from other art forms. Wuthering Heights would be a great example of that.

“Throughout her career she’s been influenced by literature, she’s been influenced by cinema, she’s been very powerfully influenced by dance and modern choreography. The only two tours she’s done to date are both incredibly theatrical performance art-based works in and of themselves.

“There are so many different facets to her. In technological terms and gender-based terms she has been a pioneer – one of the first women to take control of her career in the sense of taking a lead production role on her records.

“Apart from the quality and complexity of the songwriting on albums like The Dreaming, The Hounds of Love and The Sensual World, just how she was using the recording studio at that time is a real inspiration.

“Those albums still remain a landmark in terms of how you use new technology to create particular kinds of sounds,” he added.

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If anything, he believes, her long absence from public view after the birth of her son Albert in 1998 only increased the public’s interest in her. “Popular interest and celebration of her and her achievements has, in my mind, only intensified over the years since she came back with [album] Aerial in 2005.

“She’s been such an innovative and non-conformist artist. It’s very rare – David Bowie, I suppose, would be one of the other examples – to think of someone whose cultural influence and profile has been sustained over the decades but intensifies during the later period of their career. She’s the antithesis of that old cliche, ‘We prefer her early work.’”

Among those speaking at the symposium is Samuel Love who has just graduated from ECA with a Masters by Research in History of Art. His paper, How Beautiful It Is, Amongst All the Rubbish, will discuss the notion of Englishness in Kate Bush’s work.

“The first thing people would associate with Kate Bush’s Englishness would probably be her reputation for eccentricity,” Mr Love says. “I couldn’t think of too many other national cultures that would give us something like Wuthering Heights as a breakout single.

“Personally, though, I think the most important aspect of her Englishness runs deeper and has to do with the omnipresent nature of the countryside, standing in as a semi-magical and totally prelapsarian space of fantasy and innocence, in her music.

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“I think that sense of spiritual reverence for place has a long history in English art and is one of the most prominent ways in which England is mythologised as a site of folklore and mysticism – it’s right there in the pagan woodland in Hounds of Love, the sequestered garden of Under the Ivy and the living, breathing country of Oh England, my Lionheart.”

The symposium will open on the same day as the General Election. “We will be having ‘Vote Kate’ badges made for all delegates,” Mr Murray revealed. “Regardless of political affiliations and disagreements we will all be presenting a united front with our lapel badges.”

A Kate Bush Symposium takes place at ECA, December 12-13. Visit symposium