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Suzy O'Hara


Home / About / Academic staff profiles / Arts / Suzy O'Hara

Lecturer in Digital Arts and Enterprise

I am a curator, educator and practice-based researcher exploring emerging models of cross-sector collaboration between Art, Innovation and Society.

My research explores critical and interdisciplinary modes of art-making that challenge perceived distinctions between sites of artistic, economic and knowledge production by brokering new, direct ways of working between them. Thereby reframing traditional understandings of the creative processes, research and outputs generated by art-making as central, rather than peripheral to securing the future cultural and social, as well as economic prosperity and sustainability of global ‘creative’ economies. I lead Co/Lab Sunderland, an arts-led research platform designed to broker new connections between diverse ecologies of knowledge, practice, and innovation. My research led projects facilitate interdisciplinary contexts that foreground creative experimentation, knowledge generation, and collaborative production. In doing so, I hope to enable the exchange of insights, methods and experiences between artists and academics from across the University of Sunderland, external partners, stakeholders and diverse local communities and outcomes that have societal value and positive impact in the world.



Teaching and supervision

In my current position as Lecturer in Digital Arts and Enterprise in the Faculty of Arts and Creative Industries, I design, deliver, co-teach, and assess the Collaborative Creativity module across MA Visual Practice.

I also supervise PhD courses by practice-led research and by existent publication or creative works.

  • Georgia Smithson, New Collecting and Distribution Models for Contemporary Media Art, AHRC NPIF studentship, start 2017 (co-supervisor)
  • Janine Sykes, Rethinking Curation as Blended Practice, Block Grant AHRC studentship, start 2017 (co-supervisor)

Research interests for potential research students

I welcome new doctoral students working in the areas of digital and new media art history, socially engaged and participatory arts, creative innovation, museum, and curating studies.

Research

My research explores critical and interdisciplinary modes of art-making that challenge perceived distinctions between sites of artistic, economic and knowledge production by brokering new, direct ways of working between them. Thereby reframing traditional understandings of the creative processes, research and outputs generated by art-making as central, rather than peripheral to securing the future cultural and social, as well as economic prosperity and sustainability of global ‘creative’ economies.  

In recent years this has included leading:

SeaScapes Co/Lab, atwo-year creative engagement project, funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, with SeaScapes: Tyne to Tees Shores and Seas marine heritage project. The aim of SeaScapes Co/Lab is to connect communities with artists, researchers and the wider SeaScapes partnership to explore novel ways to deepen understanding of their relationship to their natural, cultural and industrial marine heritage through diverse artistic and creative practices. 

One Cell At A Time, an ambitious two yearprogramme of public engagement activities, funded by Wellcome Trust, with theHuman Cell Atlas (HCA) initiative. 

The award-winning Inventors! project with Dominic Wilcox, a participatory project turning children’s invention ideas into reality. I was also instrumental in scaling the project into the socially-drivenworld wide creative education organisation, Little Inventors. Successfully delivering projects in the form of competitions and educational resources in over thirty-five countries working with partners including; the Canadian Space Agency, Mr Men & Little Miss books, Ocado and the V&A.

My practice-led examination of interdisciplinary and cross-industry curatorial models initiated in my doctoral research has produced a diverse portfolio of artistic projects, product prototypes and an artist led start-up that employ novel ways of working across sectors and communities: Thinking Digital (Binaudios (2014), Banistonica (2017)), Rewriting the Hack (2015), Little Inventors (2016 - ongoing), Sunderland 10x10 (2016), Recoding the Wall (2018) and Wonderlooper (2018).  

I was identified as a Post-Doctoral Researcher in the successful Creative Fuse North East bid (AHRC, ERD, ACE) for University of Sunderland. The aim of role as Creative Innovation Development Specialist was to explore the ways in which ideas and approaches from creative practice (drawn from across the Creative, Digital and IT sector) can stimulate innovation in many other sectors while enriching the quality of life, stimulating a sense of place, identify and wellbeing and supporting social cohesion. CFNE drew upon the combined expertise of the five North East universities and SMEs, micro-businesses and freelancers across the region, to explore these issues with a focus upon ‘fusion’ of creativity, culture and digital technology in North East England. 

My co-edited published volume, entitled Art Hack Practice, (forthcoming 2019-2020, Routledge) investigates global art hacking practices employed by individuals and groups who are working within, around or against the phenomenon known as ‘maker culture’ as artists, designers, curators and historians. This book presents a range of voices from ten countries across four continents that represent diverse perspectives emerging within a fast moving, dynamic arts ecology.

  • Digital Arts
  • Participatory Art
  • New Media
  • Curation
  • Cross-sector Collaboration

Follow me on Twitter: @suzy_o_hara

Instagram: @colabsunderlanduniversity

Last updated 01 September 2022