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Arts and Creative Industries events

Our Arts and Creative Industries Research Seminars afford researchers with a discursive platform to present work in progress, test out ideas and seek peer input.


Wednesday, 21 February, 4 – 5pm, A&D Research Seminar on Teams

Ralf Broeg, Senior Lecturer in Fine Art (Sculpture), Faculty of Arts and Creative Industries, University of Sunderland

ShowRooms Unlimited

A key aspect of Broeg’s research over the years looks at new ways of distributing and presenting art and art-related material. Within this research area, Broeg has employed a wide range of medias, formats, structures, and strategies, such as multi-media sculpture/installation, curating, magazine publishing, or running a gallery. For the project of the 3 ModelRooms, Broeg is using sound as sculptural and architectural material in public spaces. The work challenges ways in which a synthesis of technologies, disciplines, formats, and categories can open new territories for innovation, creativity, cooperation, and interactivity in the public realm. It presents sound as sculptural material in a dynamic, fluid, and time-based way. The research engages with the diverse nature of the audiences in this specific/functional non-art context.

Ralf Broeg, 3ModelRooms

Image credit: Ralf Broeg, Laboratory, 3ModelRooms, Heinrich-Heine-Allee Underground Station, Düsseldorf, 2018-2019. Photo: Achim Kukulies

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Friday, 8 March 2024, 1-3pm, Room 402, St Peters Gate Enterprise Centre, Charles Street, Sunderland, SR6 0AN

Rebel Women of Sunderland –The Podcast!

The podcast builds on the successful Rebel Women of Sunderland project that celebrates the lives, work, and activism of women past and present who have made a significant contribution to culture and life in and beyond Sunderland.  

The first series has three episodes produced in and with communities in Sunderland about rebel women past and present working in creative writing, sports, music, and tech.

Speakers include Professor Mary Talbot, writer and academic.

Join the podcast producers and participants to listen, celebrate, and discuss the issues and themes of the first series.

Free entry includes lunch and cake!

This is a community podcast research project funded by the University of Sunderland's SunGen and Participations Interdisciplinary research networks and delivered by We Make Culture CIC.

Illustrated image of six rebel women of sunderland

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Wednesday, 29 May 2024, 4-5pm, Teams

Commissioning Interdisciplinary Art-making through Cross-sector Curatorial Collaborations 

Dr Suzy O’Hara Lecturer in Digital Arts and Enterprise, Faculty of Arts and Creative Industries, University of Sunderland 

In this presentation, O'Hara will explore how art-making and curatorial processes are centralised within cross–sector collaborations to derive new ways of thinking, doing and understanding complex problems affecting society and the planet. It will focus on two recent curatorial projects that have explored the role that hybrid (online and physical), socially engaged arts practices can play within big data science and marine environment conservation.

Delivered throughout the Covid-19 global pandemic, One Cell At A Time is an art and science exhibition that invites exploration of our growing understanding of the trillions of cells that make up the human body, and the role we play in pioneering scientific discovery. It is the result of a UK wide programme of public engagement activities, delivered with the Human Cell Atlas initiative. Funded by the Wellcome Trust, the Human Cell Atlas is a global scientific research initiative aiming to map every cell type in the human body. This research has the potential to transform our understanding of biology and could revolutionise future healthcare and medicine. 

Blue futures is an exhibition featuring environmentally-conscious arts practices that enable a deeper understanding of our relationship with the ocean and our local North East coastline. The exhibition forms part of a regional public engagement programme entitled SeaScapes Colab, devised and delivered by O’Hara for SeaScapes, a marine heritage consortium project funded by the National Heritage Lottery Fund. The aim of SeaScapes is ‘to reveal and better manage the hidden heritage of our unique seascape and create opportunities for learning, access and enjoyment in order to ignite stewardship of this special place for generations to come’. 

Taking these two curatorial projects, the seminar will explore models of cross-sector curatorship that centralise art-making as a conduit for public engagement, knowledge exchange and a site for generating new knowledge through arts practice research. 

CoLab Sunderland logo

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Wednesday, 12 June 2024, 4 – 5pm, A&D Research Seminar

Photography: When Taking a Picture is not the Answer

Prof. Arabella Plouviez, Academic Dean Faculty of Arts & Creative Industries, University of Sunderland

This seminar will look in detail at the process of using photography to explore complex communities of experience. Whilst often photography is used to reveal and share visual interpretations of the world, sometimes the simplicity of ‘showing what’s there’ can be a barrier.

Taking two works that were developed through a collaboration with Professor Yitka Graham and a post-bariatric surgery patient group, and working across the disciplines of health and art, the seminar will explore the challenges and thinking behind the works made.

Photo of Prof Arabella Plouviez looking at a painting on a mac screen

Image credit: Arabella Plouviez

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Past Events

Wednesday, 24 January, 4 – 5pm, A&D Research Seminar on Teams

Art Making and Empathic Attention

Fiona Larkin, Lecturer in Contemporary Fine Art Practice, Faculty of Arts and Creative Industries, University of Sunderland

This presentation addresses how a practice of making art engages empathic attention.

The research through practice explores empathic perception as a particular kind of knowledge located in the provisional, the oscillating, and a speculative sense within the work of ‘becoming other’. In doing so, it engages with phenomenological, aesthetic, and experimental methods, such as filming isolated gestures, using the body to mirror actions, exploring details in archival materials, and developing discreet installations as a response to them. Work is arrived at through a studio practice, which is focused on intimate gestures, mirrored response and images of strangers developed through video, performance to camera, and text.

Key thinking lies in the understanding that art has the ability to activate what Larkin calls ‘empathic attention’ both in the methods of its making and the reception of the completed work. Empathy is referred to as a sense of ‘feeling into’, coming from the German Einfühlung, ein meaning ‘in’ and hlung meaning ‘feeling/to feel’. Etymologically speaking, empathy is a type of cognition that offers a penetrating sense of entering into something understood as a kind of becoming. The methodological approach focuses on pursuing intimate encounters, contingent on intersubjectivity, some located in an exploration of the materials of others, for example, an archive of personal letters or the paintings of another artist.

Fiona Larkin, installation Soft Structures

Image credit: Fiona Larkin, installation Soft Structures, 2023, MIMA, Middlesborough. Photo: F. Larkin.

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Faculty of Arts and Creative Industries Postgraduate Research Symposium 

Wednesday, 6 December 2023, 14:30-15:30 (hybrid)

Barbara Longo-Flint

Title: The Impact of Abuse and Intimidation on Investigative Journalists


Investigative journalists play a vital role in functional democracies by holding power to account. Nevertheless, powerful people and organisations prefer to keep their secrets hidden, sometimes weaponising the law to silence journalists. Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPPs) are a form of legal intimidation aimed at silencing reporters by threatening them with expensive lawsuits. These legal battles can last years, causing journalists psychological, physical, and financial distress. This research explores the trauma triggered by these lawsuits to assess whether it can be detrimental to journalistic practice and, ultimately, affect journalists’ capacity to pursue some public interest investigations (self-censorship) contemporarily infringing on the right of people to receive public interest information. The comparative research comprises an online anonymous survey of 52 investigative reporters in the UK and Italy and qualitative interviews with 20 journalists in both countries. The chosen research methodology, a sequential explanatory approach that combines quantitative and qualitative methods, has been selected to comprehensively address the research questions and enhance the overall depth and validity of the study. The survey has been completed and analysed, and findings will be shared during the presentation. Qualitative interviews are currently still in progress (16 completed).


Barbara Longo-Flint is a PhD researcher at the University of Sunderland. She worked as a journalist in Italy for 20 years, before moving to the UK and completing an MA in journalism at the University of Sunderland in 2021. Barbara is a chartered member of the Order of Journalists in Italy and has achieved NCTJ Industry Gold Standard diploma in Journalism. Her research focuses on the impact of abuse and intimidation on investigative journalists and media freedom.

Adrienne Hunter Humberstone

Title: Death in the Tall Streets: Creating an Anti-trauma-plot Novel


182 children died in Sunderland’s Victoria Hall Disaster in 1883—but what was its legacy, for the survivors and for the town? Because the people affected were poor and largely unrecorded—‘nobodies ’ by the thinking of the time—only fiction can supply the answer. This creative writing thesis is driven by Hilary Mantel’s question: “Can these bones live?” and uses the novel as a methodology to explore what might have happened in a community of a type under-represented in historical fiction with its penchant for the famous and powerful. The commentary accompanying the novel addresses the idea of anti-trauma writing, the historical fiction writer’s responsibilities to the truth, and bringing a journalistic stance to biographising a fictionalised catastrophe.


Adrienne Hunter Humberstone is a Sunderland-born journalist and writer who has turned to fiction after a long career in newspapers (including the Northern Echo and the Sunday Sun) and as a freelance working in ghostwriting, blogging, and social media. She completed a master's degree in journalism at the University of Sunderland in 2012 and is now researching for a PhD in creative writing.


Wednesday, 22 November 2023, 4 – 5pm on Teams

How New Media Art Inspired an Instance of PhD Research

Janine Sykes, Lecturer in Contemporary Art and Illustration, School of Art and Humanities, University of Huddersfield and AHRC PhD candidate, Faculty of Arts and Creative Industries, University of Sunderland.

This seminar will provide insights into how the artistic technique of ‘data-into-form’, employed in new media art, inspired an instance of PhD research. The presentation begins with an outline of two curated projects, Seeding Art Currency (16 October–30 November 2018) and HOME (8 March 2021–5 June 2022) undertaken as part of the PhD project ‘Blended Curation: Placing Citizen Occupation at the Centre of Performance, Live, Process-Based, and Mew Media Art’. The session concludes with discussions surrounding the value of practice-based research.

Image of glass jars filled with dried pulses and label that says home comforting and confining 

Image credit: Janine Sykes and participants, HOME PORTRAIT [installation], domestic glass jars, printed labels, and yellow split peas. Photograph by Aoife Tocher.


DUST: Photographing Colonial Architectural Heritage in Egypt.

Wednesday, 4 October 2023, 3:30-5pm, A&D Research Seminar

Dr. Xenia Nikolskaya, PhD (University of Sunderland), Lecturer in Photography, Faculty of Applied Sciences and Arts, German University in Cairo, Egypt.

This presentation explores the possibilities and limits of architectural and interior photography as a complex method for the investigation, interpretation, and preservation of Egypt’s colonial architectural heritage from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This practice-led research was conducted in the period from 2006 to 2011, covering more than 30 locations in Egypt, including Cairo, Alexandria, Luxor, Minya, Esna, Port Said, and villages in the Delta. This photographic body of work identified and mapped the country’s colonial architectural heritage, proposing a new narrative that disrupts and modifies the ways these spaces are seen today and was presented in the monograph Dust: Egypt’s Forgotten Architecture (Dewi Lewis, 2012; revised and expanded edition, with contributions by Heba Farid and Omar Nagati, AUC Press, 2022) and numerous international exhibitions. Along with Dust, the seminar will also explore recent publishing ventures and work-in-progress.

Interior photo of Egypt’s colonial architectural

Image credit: Xenia Nikolskaya, from the series Dust (2006-2011).

Photography in the Age of Algorithmic (Re)Production

Craig Ames, Senior Lecturer in Photography

Wednesday 28 June 2023, 4-5pm, Teams

Generative imaging AI is transforming the photographic landscape, presenting many creative opportunities as well as significant threats and challenges. This presentation will highlight some of the developments over the past year, since the release and mainstream adoption of AI imaging. Using examples of his recent and developing AI-based works, the presentation will also reflect upon some of Craig Ames’s experiences and observations whilst working with post-photographic algorithmic technologies.   

Linchina confinis from the series Photographs of British Algae AI Impressions Craig Ames 2022

Image credit: Craig Ames, 'Linchina confinis' from the series Photographs of British Algae AI Impressions (2022).

Nick Lewis The Impact of AI-Generated Imagery on Art and Design

An image created by Nick Lewis by typing

Image credit: Nick Lewis, Image created by typing "The Impact of AI-Generated Imagery on Art and Design" into Dream Studio's Stable Diffusion AI. Open-source image under the CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication.

Wednesday 3 May 2023, 4pm

AI-generated imagery has developed quickly in recent years, from 'Neural Filters' in Adobe Photoshop that allow users to change facial expressions in photographs, to image generators like DALL-E 2, Midjourney and Stable Diffusion that can produce original images from a text description. The presentation will summarise the current state of AI-generated image creation, and its potential future uses, innovations and limitations. It will demonstrate how AI-generated imagery can be used within Art and Design practice and discuss the social and economic impacts that may result.


Professor Yitka Graham Building Interdisciplinary Research in Health, Arts and Creative Practice: Veteran Wellbeing

Professor Yitka Graham smiling

Wednesday 26 April 2023, 4-5pm, via Teams

Professor Yitka Graham, Head of the Helen McArdle Nursing and Care Research Institute, Professor of Health Services Research, University of Sunderland.

Veterans are a population at risk of social isolation, and often low levels of wellbeing. The Health and Care Interdisciplinary Research Network has been working with a veterans charity for the last four years, developing innovative creative projects which have had a positive impact on veterans and their families living in Sunderland. Professor Graham will discuss the Time for Tea project as an exemplar of how arts, creative practice, and health can work together to produce impactful research.


Postgraduate Research Symposium

PhD and Professional Life: Perspectives and Pathways to Academia, the Arts, the Creative Industries and Beyond

15 March 2023 2:15-5pm (hybrid)

Northern Centre of Photography, David Goldman Informatics Centre, Sir Tom Cowie Campus St Peters Way, and Teams


3pm Welcome, Prof Caroline Mitchell, Professor of Radio and Participation, and  Prof Alexandra Moschovi, Professor of Photography/Curating, Faculty of Arts and Creative Industries

3:05pm Introduction by Prof Arabella Plouviez, Academic Dean, Faculty of Arts and  Creative Industries, University of Sunderland

3:15pm Keynote and Q&A, Dr Susanne Burns, Visiting Professor in Cultural Leadership, Faculty of Arts and Creative Industries, University of Sunderland;   Director of Susanne Burns Associates, Cultural Sector Consultancy

4:05pm Yes or No? Dr Evi Karathanassopoulou, Principal Academic in Audio Production, Faculty of Media and Communication Bournemouth University 

4:20pm Q&A

4:35pm Professional Life During and After the PhD (workshop)

5pm End

Abstracts and biographies

Dr Susanne Burns, Visiting Professor in Cultural Leadership, Faculty of Arts and Creative Industries, University of Sunderland, and Director of Susanne Burns Associates, Cultural Sector Consultancy


This keynote presentation offers a personal reflection on Suzanne Burns’ own journey working for over more than 40 years within the cultural sector. Her career has spanned academia, senior leadership roles in major cultural organisations as well as 20 years running her own business offering research and consultancy to the sector demonstrating that there is no linear progression route through a career.  Somewhere along the way she managed to complete her doctorate at Middlesex University, which has sharpened and enhanced her practice. Dr Burns will explore the relationship between academia and practice-based research, the ‘value’ of the alignment of these two approaches, and the relevance of research to practice.


Dr Susanne Burns is an Independent Management Consultant with over 40 years of senior management experience in the cultural sector. Her work has encompassed dance, theatre, music and the visual arts. She currently has a diverse portfolio of clients, including Fevered Sleep, Paul Hamlyn Foundation, North East Photography Network, National Glass Centre and Rubicon Dance. She specialises in evaluation and research and has led several major evaluation projects, including the longitudinal evaluation of In Harmony Liverpool, Arts and Health programmes for Merseyside PCT and a youth arts programme at MIMA. She is an Evidence and Research Consultant for the Paul Hamlyn Foundation and was awarded a Churchill Fellowship in 2017. She has carried out major research programmes including the Dance Mapping work for Arts Council England, and has extensive experience of working in Higher Education being awarded her DProf from Middlesex University in 2011. She is an experienced trainer, mentor, and coach.

Dr Evi Karathanassopoulou, Principal Academic in Audio Production, Faculty of Media and Communication Bournemouth University 


Yes or no?

From surviving the PhD to surviving post-doctoral academia. An imperfect and subjective guide on what to say yes to and when to (maybe) say no.


Dr Evi Karathanasopoulou is a Principal Academic in Audio Production at Bournemouth University, UK. She studied classical music in Athens-Greece before moving to the UK to gain a 1st class (Hons) BA in Media Production: TV & Radio from the University of Sunderland (2006) and an MA in Radio from Goldsmiths College (2007) with an AHRC scholarship. She won an Award for excellence for the best Short-form Radio Report from the Broadcast Journalism Training Council (BJTC) for her MA work (2008). She gained her Ph.D. in 2015 at the University of Sunderland, researching radio as an intimate medium. Her latest theory outputs include a chapter on podcasting and the elicitation of emotion in The Bloomsbury Handbook of Radio, an interdisciplinary journal article on atmosphere in radio and architecture, and a book chapter on Radio, Web-Radio, and Podcasting in Greece. Her next output, a co-authored interdisciplinary article on podcasting, gender studies and quiet activism, is set to be published in the Radio Journal in May 2023. Her latest practice output was an audio installation artwork created for an international collaboration with the Goethe-Institut. Read more about her research and practice


O. Matthew Gansallo, curator and PhD Researcher Curatorial Conundrum with the Collision of the Digital when Curating in Britain and Africa

Wednesday, 8 February 2023, 4-5pm

Methods and models of curating worldwide have so far been western-dominated. When curating exhibitions in Britain, curators take into consideration the building of the museum/gallery (mostly with white walls) and in large museums, the impressive spaces to showcase art. Other key considerations are the audience, with the intent to educate, inspire, and intellectually stimulate them, then the subject matter of the exhibition and the choice to present the exhibition chronologically, thematically, or historically to enhance the impact of interpretation and experience. The emergence of new media and the digital revolution have made western curators reconfigure the relevance of exhibitions in the digital space. 

While these western curatorial models and methods have worked in Britain, they have largely failed in most parts of Africa, and especially post-colonial countries in West Africa, owing to various reasons that range from the transition from the colonial to the post-colonial and neo-colonial condition in art production and exhibition to the imposition of Eurocentric patterns of curating and exhibiting. 

When curating in West Africa, the curator is faced with new sets of ‘problems’, challenges, and complexities of identity, identities, intention, relevance, localisation, nationalisation, and globalisation. Perceptions and misconceptions have led numerous art historians, critics, and artists to attempt to define the meaning and purpose of Art in Africa and African Art as defined in the diaspora and the global market. The profession of curating itself is yet to find a stronghold in most post-colonial West African countries.

The digital and new media as applied to art, curating, and exhibitions have brought both Britain and most post-colonial countries in West Africa to address new audiences and reconsider new concepts, values, interpretations, and practical models of curating exhibitions that will collide, conflict, contradict, and communicate with each other’s patterns and with multiple audiences.          

Photographic image of the Market Place,Ejigbo, Lagos Nigeria          

Image credit: Matthew Gansallo, Connecting the Collections exhibition, the Market Place, Idimu, Ejigbo, Lagos Nigeria 2021            


Lothar Goetz – Dance Diagonal at Towner Gallery Eastbourne: The Impact of Public Art on a Community

Associate Professor Fine Art, Faculty of Arts and Creative Industries, University of Sunderland.

Dance Diagonal, artwork by Lother Goetz, covering the Towner Gallery

Image credit: Lothar Goetz, Dance Diagonal at Towner Gallery EastbournePhoto: Michael Franke.

Wednesday 7 December 2022, 4-5pm, via Teams

This presentation of the work Dance Diagonal at Towner Gallery Eastbourne follows the journey of an artwork from sketch to artist’s artefact to community ownership and the unexpected impact an abstract painting can have when placed into the centre of a town. The mural, which covers the entire outdoor wall space of Towner Gallery, was an open competition, The Brewers Towner Competition, and was originally planned to stay for one year. In covering the entire building, it did turn Towner Gallery into an architectural sculpture placed in the centre of Eastbourne and accessible to every passerby. Due to the extent of its impact and response from the community of Eastbourne, its lifetime got so far extended to five years. The presentation will focus on some of the surprising community responses.


Ben James Beyond the White Cube and the Black Box. The exhibition space as a matter and method in the documentary filmmaking process.

Ben Evans James

Image Credit:  Ben James and Emma Charles.

Filmmaker, curator and AHRC PhD candidate, Faculty of Arts and Creative Industries, University of Sunderland.

Wednesday 23 November 2022, 4-5pm, via Teams

Both mapping and documentary filmmaking offer us strategies relating to and representing space, of offering subjective translations of a reality. This online session posits that both processes share analogous methods of production that allows the application of the spatial language of mapmaking, to filmmaking. Immersing the film process within the language of mapmaking can then act as a bridge into the spatial practices of the gallery environment, into curatorial practice, and exhibition design. The presentation defines this two-step process by the term film-mapping.  

To develop a language and process around the idea of film-mapping, the presentation puts forward alternate methods developed through a series of practice-based projects realised at transmediale festival in Berlin, Germany and South Kiosk in London. These methods are developed from and anchored within a cannon of (artist) documentary films that engage with themes of landscape and sense of place. One film theorist Dara Waldron describes it as “a category pertaining to films that occupy the space between documentary, understood historically as an imparting of factual and objectively accumulated knowledge, and “art” when thought of as an object that seduces and orientates the senses toward the personal (and) subjective” (Waldron, 2018: 25). Focussing on the link between landscape and artist film, Martin Lefevbre describes the relationship as one in which landscape determines film form, “in the domain of art, landscape is not so much the result of a work; rather, it is the work itself which is the result of the landscape” (Lefevbre, 2007).  


Hybrid Research Seminar – Professor Kim Fox, American University Cairo, “Scholarly Research on Black and African Podcasts” 

Professor Kim Fox

Monday 28 November 2022, 5-6:30pm, David Puttnam Media Centre, Room 233, Sunderland, SR6 0DD.

This paper will draw on Prof Fox’s framework for a “Curriculum for Blackness: Podcasts as Discursive Cultural Guides, 2010-2020 “and also address how Egyptian female podcasters shape feminist identities. Her research focuses on podcasters from diverse backgrounds and typically from a qualitative perspective. 

Kim Fox is a professor of practice in the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication (JRMC) at The American University in Cairo (AUC) in Cairo, Egypt. She primarily teaches Audio Production and other journalism courses. PodFest Cairo, Egypt’s first podcasting conference was founded and organized by Fox in 2020. Nearly 100 podcasters converged on AUC’s Tahrir Cultural Center for a keynote address and many sessions on podcasting along with a podcast pitch competition. In 2016, she accepted a short-term fellowship at Ohio University to conduct an audio bootcamp for students interested in audio and radio. Since then she has facilitated audio-related workshops in Beirut, Lebanon; Budapest, Hungary; Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, and more. She has been a consultant on numerous audio-related projects including the HUSSLab, an organized research lab, on the AUC campus as well as for the Enterprise Egypt podcast “Making It.” As the executive producer of the award-winning Ehky Ya Masr (Tell Your Story Egypt) Podcast, a narrative nonfiction podcast about life in Cairo, Egypt, she works with young freelance producers, many of them former students, writing and editing audio content. Kim Fox | The American University in Cairo (aucegypt.edu).


Postgraduate Research Symposium on Research Methodologies

9 November 2022, 3-5pm 

Abstracts and bios 

Sam Lucas 

Same, same but different: A creative investigation through ceramics into the hidden condition of a neurodiverse population and the embodied/disembodied experience, which can result in issues such as disordered eating 


The aim of this practice-based investigation in ceramics is to research and make seen the unseen, with regards to neurodiversity and disordered eating. Qualitative research methods and material investigation will explore personal relationship to an individual’s own body and agency and investigate whether the haptic creative process and material properties of clay (which emulate visceral bodily qualities) can develop a more embodied experience and positive body awareness. The development of artwork and novel multi-methods will create new perspectives for navigating and understanding neurodiversity and disordered eating. The research questions are: 

  • What leads people with neurodiversity to experience distorted body awareness and eating disorders?  
  • Can the haptic creative process with clay develop a more embodied experience in neurodivergent people who experience distorted body awareness and disordered eating?  
  • How might a transdisciplinary approach to neurodiversity and eating disorders be used as a model for others in the field? 


In 1990, Sam Lucas graduated from the BA in Ceramics programme at Cardiff School of Art and received an MA in Ceramics in 2018. Lucas won a one-year graduate residency at Fireworks Clay Studios in Cardiff and shortly after that was selected for the Rising Stars at New Ashgate Gallery in Farnham and New Designers in 2019. Lucas was selected for the headline exhibition AWARD at the British Ceramics Biennial 2019. This led to being noticed by curator Brian Kennedy and exhibited at Art Geneve 2020 with Taste Contemporary Gallery. Lucas was also selected for the Crafts Council Hothouse Artist Development Programme in 2020. 


Inga Hamilton 

Methodological evolution: How did I get here?  


Inga Hamilton’s research challenges the human-exceptionalist’s position toward nonhuman-animals’ sculptural intelligence. Beginning as an artistic, linguistics-based PhD, it was a successful, self-proposed Northern Bridge Consortium Studentship application. Methodologies were chosen and aligned with those of Dr Tracy Hayes’ creative methodologies. However, two months in, pre-existing research became apparent. Everything was re-evaluated and the research evolved into a practice-based PhD.  

Art, multispecies studies, and animal sciences’ ethology all offered established quantitative methodologies, but mostly continued the long tradition of animal as subject. Animal behaviourist, Traci Warkentin’s methodological attempt to give all voices in her research equal weight changed the course of methodologies used in this research.   

This presentation will follow the evolution of this research’s methodologies as they aim to de-anthropocentrise and decolonise, ultimately breaking from all previous methodologies to become post-qualitative.   


Inga Hamilton is a PhD researcher and maker blending the spaces between species with her art jewellery and inhabitable sculptures. Hamilton’s international career as a sculptor and BA Hons in Ceramics, Jewellery and Silversmithing, Ulster University, provide a wide understanding of materials and processes that feed her practice-based PhD researching  ‘The Things That Nonhuman Animals Make’. Hamilton is a member of CARCuos in the Faculty of Arts and The Creative Industries at the University of Sunderland and a Northern Bridge Doctoral Candidate in the Arts funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council UK. In 2014, Hamilton was chosen as one of Ireland’s leading textile artists.  


Professor Peter Smith 

What makes a good rock performance? 


I am a retired academic who is fascinated by rock music. I have attended 2000+ concerts over the past 50+ years and have started to question what is so special about a rock performance. This has led to me producing a series of papers discussing the subject (see reference list). Is it about the artist, the music, the venue, the relationship between the artist and the audience/individual, or other factors? Is it spiritual? Is it religious? In order to explore this, I have used a mix of methods including narrative accounts, reflection, auto ethnography and published methods for performance analysis (e.g., Auslander, 2008). I don’t think any of these quite fit! I have also kept a record of my performances in the form of a music blog (see below). I consider this a piece of art practice which I am using to explore music performance! I am enjoying navigating the strange experience which is rock performance. 

Reference list 

Smith, P (2013). ‘Ladies and Gentlemen, the Greatest Rock ‘n’ Roll Band in the World: Reflections of the Rolling Stones in Concert,’ in Staubmann, H. (ed) The Rolling Stones: Sociological Perspectives. Lexington books.  

Smith, P. (2015). ‘Holidays in the Sun: The Sex Pistols at the Seaside’, Popular Music and Society, vol. 38, no.4, pp. 1-13.  

Smith, P. and Smith, L. (2022). Rock Concert Performance from ABBA to ZZ Top. Rowman and Littlefield.  

Music blog.


Peter Smith is an experienced author having written over 300 articles and six books including student textbooks and books on popular music. Smith is a retired academic and an Emeritus Professor of the University of Sunderland, a member of the Society of Authors, a Fellow of the British Computer Society, the Royal Society of Arts, the Institute of Engineering and Technology, and the Chartered Management Institute. Smith is a Chartered Engineer, a Chartered Scientist, a Chartered Manager, and a Chartered Statistician, holds a BSc in Science, a PhD in Mathematics, and was recently awarded an Honorary Higher Doctorate by the University of Sunderland.


Dr Christopher McHugh From Sunderland to Seto: Ceramics as an Archaeology of the Contemporary Past

Wednesday 19 October 2022, 4pm-5pm, via Teams

Lecturer in Ceramics and Global Engagement Lead at Belfast School of Art, University of Ulster, Visiting Research Fellow in the faculties of Health Sciences and Wellbeing and Arts and Creative Industries, University of Sunderland.

This paper will discuss several examples of McHugh’s practice-led research, focusing on recent work investigating the figurine manufacturing industry in the ceramics centre of Seto, Japan. Seto is known as one of Japan’s six ancient kiln sites and pottery has been produced there since at least the fourteenth century. From the early twentieth century, manufacturers in Seto began to diversify into the production of bisque dolls for the export market. This accelerated rapidly after World War II, when the city reinvented itself as a centre of ceramic figurine production, exporting a vast range and volume of novelty figurines to the United States and Europe. While vestiges of the novelty industry remain, Seto now faces similar economic challenges to those experienced by other centres of ceramics production. The unique material culture and tacit knowledge associated with this industry is at threat as factories close and land is redeveloped. McHugh’s research adopts an art-archaeological methodology to raise awareness of this important, yet largely neglected chapter in Japanese design history. This will be placed within the context of recent archaeological approaches to the contemporary past. The research will also be related to earlier work undertaken in Sunderland as part of McHugh’s collaborative doctoral project based at the University of Sunderland and Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens.


Publishing Art and Design Research

Online event: Wednesday, 6 July 2022, 4-5pm

Book launch: Wednesday, 6 July 2022, 5-7pm

This will be held at the Northern Centre of Photography, David Goldman Informatics Centre.

The University of Sunderland had significant success in the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021, with Art and Design research outputs identified as a particular strength within the institution.

We are delighted to invite you to dive into a core area for Art and Design research and join our interactive seminar Publishing Art and Design Research. We invite you to consider the opportunities and challenges that new and established researchers must navigate in a rapidly evolving publishing landscape.


Emeritus Professor of New Media Art, Dr Beryl Graham and Lecturer in Digital Arts and Enterprise, Dr Suzy O’Hara will launch To Fit the New Art: 7 Years of Curating Art After New Media (2022). This co-authored, online publication celebrates seven years of collective insights and experiences from international curators, as they share emerging new media art practices and discuss how curators can best fit their practices, so that audiences can engage with this exciting art.

Associate Professor of Photography and Digital Media, Dr Alexandra Moschovi will present her monograph, A Gust of Photo-Philia: Photography in the Art Museum (2020). Published by Leuven University Press, this book—part institutional history, part account of shifting photographic theories and practices—tells the story of photography's accommodation in and as contemporary art in the art museum.

AHRC Northumbria-Sunderland Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) students, Dena Bagi, Helen McGhie, and Georgia Smithson will present the collaborative publication A Book for Research that is Art (2022). With contributions by Dena Bagi, Dr Crystal Bennes, Ben Evans James, Theo Harper, Laura Harrington, Helen McGhie, and Georgia Smithson, the publication demonstrates how artists and makers are redefining the conceptual core of their practice as they create forms, motion, and spatial emulations that are directly informed by technology.

These three short presentations will be followed by an informal discussion led by Professor of Visual Art, Dr Mike Collier.

Research Seminar

Research Seminar – Participatory methods, interactive and ideological issues pertaining to the construction and success of offline and online digital communities - Dr Helen Thornham and Dr Joanne Armitage.

Online and In-Person 

Date/Time: Monday 30 January 2023, 5-6:30pm, room 233 Media Centre.

Dr. Helen Thornham is Assoc Professor of Digital Cultures at the University of Leeds

My research centres on issues of gender and digital technology and my main research interests are around gender and digital culture; digital and data inequalities; feminist new materialisms and STS. At the moment I am working with Dr. Joanne Armitage and a number of activist groups exploring technology and social justice issues in the UK and across Latin America through UKRI-funded projects. I lead an EPSRC-funded Network+ (2022-2027): INCLUDE+ (INCLUsive Digital Economy network+), which explores how social and digital environments can be built, shaped, and sustained to enable all people to thrive. You can find out more about INCLUDE+ here. I teach across the Digital Media Programmes at undergraduate and postgraduate levels and am currently leading the MA module Feminism, Identity and Media. I am Deputy Postgraduate Admissions Tutor, which means I also deal with PhD admissions.

Dr Joanne Armitage is Lecturer in Digital Media at the University of Leeds.  My research is concerned with understanding digital technology in culture and society. The broader questions that frame my work speaks to the politics of digital technology – who produces it, how it is produced, and how it shapes different practices. I employ participatory, digital, and empirical methods to examine technologies in the context of environmental justice and (in)equality. With this, I work with expert and non-expert groups to develop (new) technologies and infrastructures to examine the ways in which they facilitate different practices and forms of political agency. I lead the AHRC networking grant Sus_NET: Sustainable Marking for Feminist Action which examines technological practices through the lens of sustainability and equality. I have lectured in Digital Media at the School of Media and Communication, University of Leeds since 2016.

I have contributed to a large number of public-facing projects such as Machine Learning Imaginations where participants explore machine learning as an embodied, lived and reconfigurable technology. Similarly, Automation and Me brought together a group of international artists and academics to explore and respond to automation as a critical issue in society through a feminist lens. In 2018 I participated in a coding cultural exchange between Yorkshire and Tokyo funded by Arts Council England, British Council, Daiwa Foundation, and Sasakawa Foundation.

Alongside my work at Leeds, I am Research Associate in the Department of Sociology, University of Cambridge. Here I contribute to the AirKit proof of concept project as part of the Citizen Sense research group led by Prof Jennifer Gabrys.

Alongside my academic work, I am an algorithmic producer and musician and currently produce music for the Bloomberg series ‘Art + Technology’. My work has been featured in The Times, Guardian, BBC Radio 3, BBC Radio 5. I have received Sound and Music’s Composer-Curator fund (2018) and am a resident at Somerset House Studios. Recent commissions include environmental soundscape Collision Grounds with video artist Anya Stewart Maggs.


Gaming Festival  Media and Culture

Date/Time: Friday 24 June 2022, 12-9pm

The University of Sunderland is to host its first Gaming festival at the Prospect Building on St Peter's Campus.

The festival will be a chance to connect the community of Sunderland with the amazing work happening locally in the games industry.

Students will showcase their work, visitors will be able to see and play on exclusive footage of games currently in development, and local developers will be able to connect with the local community and upcoming stars in games development.

With the announcement that Sunderland will be home to a multi-million pound esports centre, it is time to connect the local community and our students with a booming industry. 

The University of Sunderland's Esports network will be hosting a tournament throughout the day. There will also be a raffle with prizes including games, and merchandise.

Developers and games artists from across the north east will take part in our festival, giving students and the public a chance to network and learn about our growing games industry. There will be the chance to speak to developers, see exclusive content and ask questions of the leading games industry experts. Taking part are:

Tanglewood Games an established games development studio based in the north east of England.  As a friendly team of Unreal Engine experts with long careers based at the forefront of this technology, we have a proven track record working with well-known AAA publishers on some of the biggest Unreal Engine titles to date, such as Fortnite, Sea of Thieves, and Paragon.

Atom Hawk Since 2009 Atom Hawk  been working with movie studios, game developers and product designers to help realise their visions and bring ideas to life through world class visual development and design. 

Cardboard Sword – a growing independent games company that has worked on games such as Forza Horizon 3. 

Radical Forge – have pushed, grown and succeeded since their formation to become an established name within the game development industry as a place of creativity, innovation and adventure. Handling many projects across multiple platforms including PC, Xbox, PlayStation, Oculus Quest, iOS, Android and Nintendo Switch. They have several years of experience on a vast range of indie and externally published titles as well as tirelessly working away on our first original IP “Bright Paw”. 

Nosebleed Interactive – a multi-award-winning independent studio based in Newcastle upon Tyne, in the heart of the North East of England. Nosebleed have worked with some of the world’s biggest companies, brands and content providers such as Channel 4 and Sony Interactive Entertainment. At our core, we're all gamers, passionate about playing and making great games and entertainment software. Named as one of the Top 50 creative companies in the country by Creative England. Nosebleed Interactive also won the PlayStation Mobile Pioneers competition, as well as best small to medium business in the Newcastle Business Awards. Alongside this the company was one of the first handful of companies to receive support from the prestigious UK Games Fund.

The festival will provide an opportunity to speak to some of the biggest names in the game industry, and to see the wonderful media work being created in our region. 

Register via Eventbrite


Research Seminar Art and Design

From Sailing the World to Saving the World:  How bast fibres could help high street fashion become more sustainable' by Naomi Austin

Date/Time: Wednesday 29 June 2022, 4-5pm

The event will be hosted online via Teams and is internal only. For further details on how to join externally, please contact alexandra.moschovi@sunderland.ac.uk

Bast or bark is the fibrous material found inside certain plants sandwiched between the woody core and the outer layer. Bast fibres include flax (linen), hemp, kenaf and ramie, all which have been used by humans for thousands of years for everything, from building materials to sails and ropes to clothing. These fibres are known to be the most environmentally friendly out of all fibres, with a fineness, strength and flexibility which surpasses many other fibres; therefore, offering great potential as sustainable alternatives to the dominance of cotton. However, since the 1960s, consumption of garments made using bast fibres is very low compared to other textiles. This presentation will offer an insight into the reasons for this and what can be done to help increase consumers’ and manufacturers’ interest in these fibres.


Research Seminar Art and Design

'The Introduction of New Media Art Practices in Greece in the 1970s and 1980s' by Stamatis Schizakis, Curator of New Media, Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens, GR; Ph.D. candidate University of Sunderland
Wednesday 16 March 2022

This presentation focuses on the discourse and practice of new media art produced and presented in Greece from the early 1970s to the early 1990s, for the first time through a new media art scope. It aims to throw light into the aims and methods of new media artists and organisations active in Greece during the period in question. The content of the presentation originates in a doctoral project with the same title and subject, which resulted in a new chronology of new media art in Greece, an evaluation of the role of institutions and public support, an account of the efforts of certain new media artists for connecting to a global network and market, as well as a mapping of common characteristics of the works produced and presented during this period.  

Pantelis Xagoraris  Computer drawing in ink

Pantelis Xagoraris
[Computer drawing in ink], 1973
Ink on paper
31 x 27 cm
National Museum of Contemporary Art Athens, Inv. No. 428/02,
donated by Zafos Xagoraris, 2002 

Research Methodologies in the Arts and Creative Industries

Postgraduate Research Symposium - Art and Design
Wednesday 9 February 2022

13:00   Introduction, Dr Alexandra Moschovi, Associate Professor of Photography and Digital Media and Dr Kevin Yuill, Associate Professor of American History

13:30   Welcome, Prof. Kevin Petrie, Head of the School of Art and Design

13:10   HOME, Janine Sykes

13:30   Casting Self Reflection: Three-Dimensional Mirrors within Contemporary Glass Art Practice, Joanna Manousis

13:50   Don’t Deny Your Past, Andy Mellors

14:10   Discussion

14:20   Preview of the research publication A Book for Research that is Art, Dena Bagi and Helen McGhie

Abstracts and biographies

Research Seminar - Art and Design

'Sustainable Ceramics: An Exploration of Some Conceptual and Professional Factors' by Visiting Professor Dr Wendy Gers
Wednesday 16 February 2022

What are the issues behind developing ethical and sustainable ceramics practices? Who are the pioneers in this field? What are the milestones involved in becoming a more sustainable ceramics artist? Is it enough to develop an engaged practice, with an environmental policy and action plan? This presentation surveys international art practices that have moved beyond environmental advocacy and are actively engaged in reducing their environmental impact. 

Dr Wendy Gers, Visiting Professor

Professorial Lecture Series

‘Songs of Time and Place’ by Professor Mike Collier
Wednesday 2 February 2022

Front cover of book 'Songs of Time and Place'

Games, Culture, and Identity: The MultiPlay Conference 2022 - Media and Culture

Wednesday 19 January 2022

Games, Culture, and Identity: The MultiPlay Conference 2022 is a multi-disciplinary conference which brought together a range of academics and practitioners across different fields. It also launched the new academic network MultiPlay, committed to a multidisciplinary approach to video games. The conference was hosted online.

The MultiPlay Conference 2022 is a conference supported by the University of Sunderland’s Centre for Research in Media and Cultural Studies and the Participations Interdisciplinary research Network.


Dr. Rob Gallagher (Manchester Metropolitan University) Rob Gallaher’s research specialises in examining the relationship between video games and identity, with focus on personal data and posthuman subjectivity, and life narrative games. He is author of Videogames, Identity, and Digital Subjectivity,( Routledge 2019)

“In right-wing NPC memes gaming jargon is deployed to articulate a reactionary critique of liberal democracy, one that contends only some identities should be recognised as valid and only some subjects as fully human; in ludobiographical games by creators like Cassie McQuater and Tabitha Nikolai materials poached from retro videogames and 90s gaming magazines are repurposed in the service of more radical and progressive explorations of identity and subjectivity. Putting these forms in dialogue, this keynote considers how terms, images, concepts and characters drawn from gaming culture are being used to contest and reformulate liberal conceptions of personhood and politics.”

Confirmed speakers

Dr. Poppy Wilde (Birmingham University School of Media) presented research on posthuman subjectivity at play. Wilde is an expert on the use of avatars and the relationship they have to the posthuman. She has published multiple academic articles on the posthuman, from death and resurrection in the online game to the lived experience of gaming.

Daz Skubich is one of the driving forces behind the popular streaming channel Game Assist, a channel dedicated to creating video essays on accessibility and liberation in video games. Their work poses new questions and considerations for academics about our approaches to video game analysis.

Javier Rayón is The Director for the upcoming Dream of Darkness game which explores the true history of Mexico before colonialism whitewashed the nation’s heritage. A leading content creator in the games industry, Rayón also supports the efforts of academics to address history ethically through video games.

Benjamin Carpenter is a visiting Fellow in the School of Politics, Philosophy, Language and Communications Study at the University of East Anglia. He completed his PhD in 2021, writing on philosophical critiques and solutions to the problems of contemporary identity politics. Benjamin’s current research interests are in contemporary online media and identity, with a particular interest in bringing these into dialogue with phenomenology and existentialism.

Adam Jerrett is a lecturer and PhD student in the School of Creative Technologies at the University of Portsmouth. As a games studies researcher, he is particularly interested in pervasive games, and the way games can break out of their “magic circles” to truly affect the lives of their players. His ongoing PhD work explores values like empathy, identity and reflection in order to create games that have personal and social impact.

Stephanie Farnsworth is a PhD candidate at the University of Sunderland. Her research focuses on examining the mutants of Mass Effect, as well as the wider themes of biological manipulation and exploitation in science fiction. Farnsworth is a co-founder of MultiPlay.

Imo Kaufman is a Midlands 4 Cities Researcher in collaboration with the British Games Institute Videogame History: Department of Cultural, Media and Visual Studies University of Nottingham

Dr Ayisi is an early-stage academic researcher and a member of the faculty of the Communication Studies Department of the University of Ghana. Prior to joining the University of Ghana, she taught in several higher education institutions both in the United Kingdom and in Ghana. Her research interests are in the fields of gender and new media, popular culture and digital cultures. Her focus is on issues around identity and participatory cultures and online activism.

Eyram is the co-founder and CEO of Leti Arts. As an experienced game developer, Eyram believes that Africa can make a salient contribution to the world of game development and preserve culture through this. He has pioneered developing the gaming industry in Africa with Leti Arts. Eyram believes preserving cultural diversity through gaming and entertainment is very important and aims to prove this by creating world-class games and comics using African talent. Eyram is an experienced game developer who designs and implements games in most programming languages based on the platform. He's won several awards for his work in the African video game development space, is a frequent speaker at game conferences globally and is an author of the book Uncompromising Passion documenting his Journey as an African video game developer.

Lisa Meek completed her MA in Media and Cultural Studies at the University of Sunderland in 2020. She completed a dissertation researching the creation of space and place in the videogame Animal Crossing: New Horizons (Nintendo EPD, 2020). She hopes to complete a PhD which will continue this research and develop the use of phenomenological geography within media studies, as well as contribute to ongoing discussions surrounding videogame theory. 

Conference schedule

Logo of Multi Play Conference 2022, capital letters M P

Research seminar - Art and Design

'Curating Participation, Curating New Media Art'  by Prof Beryl Graham
Wednesday 15 December 2021

This illustrated presentation showed how artists using net art, interactive video, software art and other 'things that plug in', are changing the ways in which audiences (or is it users, participants and prosumers?) relate to art. Prof. Graham explored how curators and cultural organisations can show this exciting artwork in meaningful ways.

CRUMB logo 

Research Seminar - Media and Culture

Organised by FACI Research group and Participations Interdisciplinary Research Network

'How Women can Save the Planet' by Dr Anne Karpf (Professor of Life Writing and Culture at London Metropolitan University)
Wednesday 17 November 2021 

Writer and academic Dr Anne Karpf talked about her recent book's themes: activism, climate, gender and racial justice.
How might practitioners/researchers in the arts and creative industries incorporate such themes in their work? What kind of collaboration between researchers from different disciplines is possible?

Research seminar - Art and Design

'Airs, Phrases and Notes in Neon: The Language of Birds' by Professor Mike Collier
Wednesday 20 October 2021

A short talk about the research behind an exhibition staged for the research gallery at the National Glass Centre in November 2021.
Prof Mike Collier has been assisted in this work by gladd artist Dr Ayako Tani and neon craftworker Bryn Reeves.

As the world went silent in lockdown March 2020, something else happened; for the first time, many people became more aware of the spring sounds of the birds around us.

This talk explored the background and research process involved in creating six circular large-scale neon birdsong pieces that foreground the value of our acoustic environment and will be displayed in an exhibition from November 2021 to April 2022 at the National Glass Centre.

The form of each piece has been drawn from Geoff Sample's sonograms of each bird (Wren; Great Tit; Spotted Flycatcher; Mistle Thrush; Goldcrest and Nuhatch). The exhibition will be accompanied by a series of six poems (called airs) by acclaimed Scottish comtemporary poet, Gerrry Loose. 

Digital drawing of Spotted Flycatcher

Mike Collier, Spotted Flycatcher, digital drawing, 30 inches square 

spotted flycatcher
by Gerry Loose

singer not song
only here here note
now not song now
only singer now not
song now now note
now fly

Launch of Interactive Film - Media and Culture

'Jessica’s Story - Young Parents and Perinatal Mental Health'
Wednesday 13 October 2021

David Puttnam Media Centre Cinema

The Film was followed by Q and A from health educators, actors, Trylife film director and project researchers

The NENC ICS’s Child Health and Wellbeing Network’s (CHWN) have commissioned this Interactive film. You can view the trailer here. Developed by our local phenonium, Trylife, a true CHWN partnership project, the ICS Mental Health funding for this work was secured in partnership with the Perinatal MH Network and was commissioned by the William Howard School in Cumbria.  Clinicians and Youth workers across mental health, Maternity and Perinatal mental health have contributed to this work and a programme board have managed its progress throughout the pandemic. The CHWN has evolved from the ICS and promotes partnership working to enable all children to thrive.  Our episode has been filmed on location in the NENC and focuses on pregnancy in young parents, Mental Health and Perinatal mental health.

University of Sunderland researchers Drs. Rick Bowler, Floor Christie and Amina Razak who have followed and researched the process of the partnership and production will be present at the launch as will Laura North Laura Northmore University of Sunderland Media production student who advised on storylines and acted in the film.

Once launched this resource will be freely available to both children and young people (from 13yrs and above) and professionals supporting them to ‘try life’ and see the impact of their choices in these interactive films on a range of hard hitting topics:

  • Episode 1 Sophie’s Story -  Substance Misuse, Sexual Health and Consent
  • Episode 2 Aaliyah’s Story-  Knife Crime and Drug Misuse
  • Episode 3 Jacob’s Story  - Mental Health and Relationships
  • Episode 4 Avani’s Story - Grooming
  • Episode 5 Shane’s Story - Isolation and loneliness & Covid
  • Episode 6 Jessica’s Story - Young Parents and Perinatal Mental Health

Research Symposium

Wednesday 6 October 2021

This symposium involved advanced postgraduate students doing 10 minute presentations on their projects, the challenges they have faced, and their experiences of prosecuting a PhD.

The purpose of the symposium was to get PhD students used to presenting their ideas in succinct and understandable form, to expose their research to questions and challenges from their academic peers, to inspire and instruct new research students, and to enhance the research culture in our faculty through participation of our academic staff.


1:00   Introduction - Kevin Yuill
1:05   Siouxsie Barber
1:20   Elizabeth Waugh
1:35   Steph Farnsworth
1:50   Dena Bagi

Art and Design Past events

 Art and Design events 2020/21

 Art and Design events 2019/20


CRMCS Past research seminars

 Research seminars 2000-2017