Curating – what’s it all about?

Straight from latest issue of the  School of Arts & Creative Industries Magazine , we’re sharing extracts from an interview with MIMA’s exhibitions and collection curator, Helen Welford, who tells us a little bit about her job.

Helen studied BA (Hons) Fine Art in Manchester. Following graduation she moved back to the region and set up a studio. Keen to further her learning she undertook an MA Art Museum and Gallery Studies and began curating at Newcastle University, as well as getting involved with Saltburn Artists Projects. Helen’s role at MIMA has changed over the years. Beginning as a gallery assistant, she moved up through the ranks from assistant curator to exhibitions and collections curator

“My favourite thing about being a curator is working with artists to develop ideas for shows. I love working on commissions and helping artists develop new work. My job is incredibly varied and every day is different. From studio visits to planning an exhibition to designing the gallery’s look and feel, it can be very creative.”

The School of Arts & Creative Industries at Teesside University offers an MA Curating as well as a Degree Apprenticeship in Curating, which awards an MA Curating along with the apprenticeship qualification. The degree apprenticeship offers an excellent opportunity for individuals in a curating role to gain a masters level qualification in their specialism whilst discovering the benefits of networking with other like-minded curators, studying part-time in our international art gallery and museum MIMA (Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art), whilst still working and earning.

Helen’s advise for anyone considering a career in curating – “I recommend that you see as much art as possible. Read magazines and websites and soak it all up. Go to as much locally as you can but also try and go further afield. Art online has really advanced during the pandemic and it can be a great place to come across new artists. Go to openings and meet people. Ask for support and mentoring, people are happy to help. Middlesbrough is a great place to be in the art world and make things happen.”

Find out more about our Curating Degree Apprenticeship (MA)



2022 Graduate Showcase – a Sneak Peek!

May is the month of the Graduate Showcase in the School of Arts & Creative Industries and with just two weeks to go, we’re so excited about the incredible work that we have seen, that we just can’t help but give you a sneak peek…

P.S. Shout out to Becky Thomas, 3rd Year Graphic Design & Illustration student, for the fabulous Graduate Showcase promo artwork! 🙌

Each year, students from the School of Arts & Creative Industries submit their finest pieces of work, the culmination of three years of study, for inclusion in THE event of the year. This year’s Graduate Showcase opens on Monday 16th May and is open to anyone who wishes to come along to see the work of our students. Check out the full programme of events here.

Unlike the 2021 Degree Show which was all online, this year we’re thrilled to be opening our doors to students, families, friends, employers, schools, colleges and local organisations that wish to come along to applaud the achievements of our final year students.

A full printed programme showcasing student work will be available for visitors, along with a showcase of our film and media work on a digital platform. But you don’t have to wait – here’s a taster of what’s in store for you! For each course we’ve randomly selected just one amazing piece of work to show you, to help whet your appetite for more!

BA (Hons) Comics & Graphic Novels

Student Sophie Poole








BA (Hons) Fashion

Student Grace Goodfellow-Lovlo






BA (Hons) Product Design

Student Scarlett Bonas




BA (Hons) Graphic Design 

Student Jue Shuen Soh




BA (Hons) Fine Art

Student Amelia Curry








BA (Hons) Interior Design

Student Lauren Bailey


There’s much, much more to see when we open our doors on 16th May AND watch this space for information about where to find work from students of our Music & Media Production Courses, which will be available to view on our TUxtra platform. You’ll see some incredible work from students on the following courses:

Hope you enjoyed this sneak peek and look forward to welcoming you during Graduate Showcase week, 16th – 20th May.

MIMA and Me

Clare Varga talks about the decision to return to university to study for a journalism degree as a mature student and the internship opportunity this opened up for her

At the ripe old age of 35, I decided it was about time I got the degree I had been promising myself since I was 18, so I studied Media and Communications BA (Hons) degree at the School of Arts & Creative Industries.  I have always been interested in the media and the arts and after graduating I was given a really exciting opportunity to work at MIMA gallery as an intern for 3 months. I have learned a huge amount in that three months.

My role focusses on supporting the communications manager with activities both in MIMA gallery and with the School of Arts & Creative Industries.  As well as being passionate about media in of all its various forms I am an appreciator of the arts, so I feel incredibly lucky to be working in such a fantastic environment, surrounded by such creativity.

I’ve always enjoyed art. I love the way that everyone interprets works in their own individual way, and also how a piece of art can evoke such strong emotions.  I’ve really enjoyed learning about how a gallery is run and I have been working on social media plans, public relations and have been contacting the media, both local and national about events and activities going on at MIMA Gallery.

I have also been witness to the flurry of excitement and activity that goes on just before a big exhibition opening. Chemical City opened on 25th November, and in the days and weeks beforehand, MIMA was a hive of activity. This culminated in an opening night event, which I had the privilege of not only attending, but also helped at the event. Seeing the gallery change from one exhibition, to an empty space and then filled with a whole new show was fascinating. I really had no idea how much work went into staging an exhibition and that the planning takes place a year or two beforehand, there’s a lot involved in putting on an exhibition – as I have learned! I was also privileged to have a sneak peak of the exhibition with a guided tour from Helen Welford, curator at MIMA, before it was opened to the public.

Ive also been really surprised to see how involved with the community MIMA is. From schools to elders, MIMA is at the heart of Middlesbrough. The recently launched Saturday Club, for 13-16 year olds has been a roaring success and I’ve seen some of the amazing work that they have produced.

I will be sad to leave MIMA when my internship is at its end, but I will be eternally grateful to the team for allowing me to join them and learn so much about what they do, as well as utilising the skills I learned during my degree. Anyone who is thinking about a creative career path, I would 100% recommend experience in an arts and culture environment.

You can find out more about creative subjects to study at the School of Arts Creative Industries here

*** MIMA NEWS ***


Fine Art students from the School of Arts & Creative Industries at Teesside University, recently curated their own exhibition with the support of Pineapple Black‘s contemporary arts space in Middlesbrough

The all-female student collective, in the second year of their Fine Art degree course, described their work as being based  upon responding and reacting to the works that they have discovered within their environment.


The exhibition process created an opportunity for the students to experiment with their craft and to find their preferred methods of work. It also allowed them to find faults in their work and correct future pieces – all vital learning for future events as they progress on to employment within the creative industries following graduation.


Identifying the challenges of curating an exhibition as a group was a new experience for the students, who come from a variety of art backgrounds – some studied art in college but for others this was a completely new direction.  Working out how their works were going to be installed, how to complement the space and each others work, and how to find appropriate entertainment to add that something extra to the event were all challenging considerations.

The students also recognised obstacles with their own work, with some pieces taking a lot of physical labour to complete and install, but these were overcome by working effectively as a team, resulting in an inspirational immersive arts experience, Bamboozled.


Lecturers from the School of Arts & Creative Industries supported the students, offering new perspectives to both making and displaying works and working closely with the them to ensure they were fully satisfied with the overall look and feel of their work and the exhibition as a whole.

The installation period was collectively our favourite part of the process

quotes student Leah Roberts,

seeing all of our hard work come together in a much larger space was really enjoyable.”


More of the students’ work can be seen on their Instagram accounts:

The BA (Hons) Fine Art at Teesside University provides studio-based learning that allows students to specialise in painting, printmaking, sculpture, photography and/or new media. Students have open access to all media workshops to develop their personally defined project themes.

Teeside University’s has an Open Day on Saturday June 25th for anyone wishing to explore the facilities, tour the campus and chat with lecturers and students

New product development, who needs a designer?

Mark Beckwith, Senior Lecturer in Industrial Design talks about the changing industrial design landscape. Mark teaches students on the BA Product Design in the School of Arts & Creative Industries

Changing design processes

Product / industrial designers initially conceptualise a new product that creates emotional connections with the end user. Development draws together fit, form, and function, optimising all to create the best possible solution. Designers strive to create visually appealing designs and ensure that the product is manufactured in an economic and sustainable manner, creating a product that can stand the test of time.

When I graduated in the late eighties manufacturing companies would leave industrial design to the end of the engineering lifecycle, or leave out completely often with a new product struggling to find success in consumer-driven markets.

The situation has now changed with designers involved from the initial ideas stage. Designers now must embrace several challenges, as manufacturers face more competition and faster development cycles than ever before. Consumers are becoming ever more discerning in a global market, with design and engineering teams increasingly integrated therein.

The way forward

Within manufacturing industry, there has been much discussion dedicated to the way forward for product design as a profession, especially with its power to impact corporate thinking or influence culture. Design is affecting society on previously unheard-of levels. Apple, for example, is now worth over $3 trillion and has unquestionably changed societies all over the world. And it’s no exaggeration to say that industrial design has played an enormous role in their success.

As long as people feel the need to create, build and manufacture, industrial design will remain vibrant. Just look around, there are many national and international companies that are dedicated to good design and bring awareness of them to the masses.


Product Design at Teesside

The Product Design course at Teesside University equips students with the skills and knowledge for careers across the design industry in roles from consultant to in-house designer, enabling employment with a wide range of employers from small independent businesses to large-scale manufacturers.

Teesside University is ranked 13th out of 71 institutions for Design & Crafts in the Guardian University Guide 2021


Great Creations From Visiting Students

Students from Middlesbrough College and Stockton Riverside College spent the afternoon at Teesside University this week, participating in workshops delivered by the School of Arts & Creative Industries.

The workshops were part of the school’s MIMA Great Create activity days. A range of workshop activities were provided, from 3D modelling to drawing with nature and designing their own T-shirts.

One group of students made use of the university’s Adobe Create Campus status and were provided with guest logins, enabling them to use Adobe Spark. They were taught how they could source royalty-free images to create their own e-zine  

Teachers accompanying the students enjoyed the activities, feeding back to the academic team “great to meet you and love the work the students did”

The School of Arts & Creative Industries is holding one more MIMA Great Create Activity Day on Wednesday 13th April – anyone interested in coming along to experience the facilities on offer can register here


Find out more about our courses:


Five Minutes with Sarah Perks

Sarah Perks is a professor and Head of Department in the School of Arts & Creative Industries.

I grew up on a council estate and I was always into anything to do with the arts, from pop music to reading and watching everything. I’m not really sure that I conceived of working in any other arena. I am now a curator, academic and writer. In 2017 I was was one of Creative Review’s 50 Creative Leaders. I’ve led many major projects with international artists.

A highlight of my career was working with the filmmaker and artist David Lynch. My work is about relationships — between artists and audiences and between art forms. It is also political, about the structures at work in society, how they shape our experience, and where there is inequality because of these. I’m currently developing work on how arts can embrace social justice by combining our heritage with futures such as environmental issues, inclusion and technological advances.

Arts and culture inform our world alongside science and technology. They are part of everybody’s experience and our lives depend on creative thinking. Arts and culture enable debate and help people understand the complex and unequal world around us, and be part of designing a better one.

At the School of Arts and Creative Industries we see success as fulfilling your ambitions, whether you are a planning to design the interior of a primary school, create the logo for it, teach the children in it, or work with them to tackle poverty. If you’re thinking of applying to the School, my advice would be choose what excites you rather than what you think you should do. If you stay creative and curious about the world it will never bore you

Our courses:


Students Benefit From Unique Textiles Print Facilities

Vicky Graham is a Senior Technician in the School of Arts & Creative Industries. She talks here about the unique textiles print facilities and life in our school.

The textiles print facilities are unique and accessible to all students across the School, offering open access booking and specialist modules taught in the print facility. The facilities are in the beautiful grade II listed Waterhouse building with a variety of print equipment that is as impressive as the location.

The academic staff have an extensive range of skills and experience in art and design and vast teaching experience. Many of the staff work in the sector, running their own businesses. They are regularly featured in
international exhibitions and are published in magazines and books. The staff have up-to-date industry knowledge, and you can expect these experiences to shine through in their teaching. It’s such a positive and supportive environment and the campus amplifies the sense of community.

If you’re studying at the School of Arts & Creative Industries, I’d recommend taking advantage of all the additional opportunities on offer. Go to all the artist talks, exhibitions and use all the facilities. Three years will go by so fast and you don’t want to miss any of it.

Follow some of Vicky’s work on Instagram

Find out more about our BA (Hons) Fashion


Professor Supports Disability Representation in Animation

Renowned for his work on disability, Simon McKeown, Professor in the School of Arts & Creative Industries at Teesside University, has recently supported the Cinema of Ideas in bringing together a series of short films and talks on disability representation and accessibility in animation.

Simon was approached by Louise M. Milsom, a disabled freelance film curator, who asked if his work All for Claire could be showcased at the event. Louise has been researching the representation of physical disability in animation both on-screen and behind the camera. All for Claire is part of Louise’s Visibly Animated festival and a part of the BFI’s permanent collection.

All for Claire tells the story of Lee, a young man determined to win the heart of Claire, a young woman determined to make life difficult for him. Dancing playfully on her crutches, Claire frustrates Lee’s romantic advances, transporting him away to daunting environments where he’ll need to think on his feet if he’s to win her affections.

Simon McKeown directed the film, working with actor Lee Soar and choreographer Claire Cunningham to create a colourful motion-capture animation which was first broadcast on BBC Big Screens across Britain in 2010. Simon explores themes of power, control and rejection in the work and originally created two versions with different endings for festival audiences to choose from – ‘win’ or ‘lose’?

Visibly Animated showcases a range of animated shorts from the UK, Germany, Australia and Taiwan, all centred around disabled characters which are available to view from 24th March to 6th April





International Collaboration on World Storytelling Day

To celebrate World Storytelling Day 2022 the School of Arts and Creative Industries at Teesside University held a special international celebration of creative storytelling with participation from alumni, partners, our staff and  students. We asked everyone to join us in celebrating World Storytelling Day 2022 using the theme ‘People and Places – Lost and Found’. Participants were asked to tell us what it is like being a global creative student or creative professional, to share their stories about where they live and the people around them., to tell us their stories of people and places in their your way – video, images, words or music.

A digital live 48 hour event was staged across global timezones using our TUxtra platform, to stream and build digital content  sharing live on social media. The resulting 48 hours of streamed and hosted content with participation from our international friends, partners, alumni and our students at Teesside students can be seen below.

The Man Who Wouldn’t Look Up

WECreate Memories

Obama 100 Days

Being an International student at Teesside University

The Deer Rising

In conversation with Feride Cicekoglu

Fashion Students collaboration with Marmara University 

Lonely Planet


Jane O’Neill, Editor at Commercial Interior Design

Being a Global Creative Today

Alice tells her Teesside Story

Study and Life at Teesside University

Jackson remembers Teesside University

A Story of Retired Teachers

Running in the Dark

Fashion Students collaboration with Marmara University – Part 2

From Teesside to Australia

The train to Kherson, Ukraine

In and around the Tees Valley

Photography Students Celebrate World Storytelling Day 2022 


Courses in Art & Design


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