I am a researcher, teacher, art museum and gallery interpretation practitioner and curator, and am Head of Learning at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts at the University of East Anglia (UEA) in Norwich, where I started working in September 2016.
My PhD is from the School of Museum Studies at the University of Leicester and is entitled Sensory Engagements with Objects in Art Galleries: Material Interpretation and Theological Metaphor. Supervised by Dr Sandra Dudley and Professor Ricard Sandell, it looks at how using objects in creative ways in art galleries might challenge traditional forms of knowledge, allowing for imaginative and sensory responses to collections. Inspiration for this research comes from projects I have worked on in former roles as Interpretation Development Officer at Manchester Art Gallery (such as the Mary Greg project) and reflecting on the use of Object Dialogue Boxes made by artists Karl Foster and Kimberley Foster both there and at Museums Sheffield. I use theological metaphors as a way to explore the relationships between people and objects, and objects and the wider world. Further information can be found on my departmental webpage.
I am involved in another project at the School of Museum Studies, a partnership between India and the UK, Things Unbound. Funded by the British Academy and UKIERI, this 3-year programme seeks to explore what it is that objects in museums actually do, and how we might go about researching this. I have also worked for the Research Centre for Museums and Galleries exploring the impact of museums and their collections on health and wellbeing across the East Midlands.
I have been a freelance museum and art gallery interpretation consultant, and have over 12 years of experience in developing and researching creative audience-led museum and gallery interpretation, curating exhibitions, devising interpretation and interactivity, commissioning artists, working collaboratively with partner organisations, developing participatory projects for young people, managing formal and informal education programmes and establishing digital and social media projects in museums. Following my PhD, I worked as Special Projects Manager at the Royal Armouries in Leeds, managing the highly successful exhibition Warrior Treasures: Saxon Gold from the Staffordshire Hoard which exceeded its visitor target of over 55,000 visitors in 4 months.
I am a Director and Trustee for GEM (the Group for Education in Museums), having been Area Convenor for Yorkshire and Humberside for 4 years from 2010-2014 and I am a mentor for the Museums Association’s AMA.
On this blog, I reflect on my own broadly defined creative research journey, including reviews and responses to museums and galleries, thoughts on conferences attended and articles read, as well as experimenting with methods and theories – and occasionally something entirely other. In fact, more often than not, it is something entirely other. Generally something creative, artistic, musical, often connected with where I live in Sheffield.
Everything though, is interconnected…