Better the Devil You Know? Meeting our Movers and Shakers.

Dr. Laura Sillars, Dean of the School of Arts and Creative Industries and Director of MIMA, shares her thoughts on students who join us part-way through a degree course.

Every year students switch to study with us moving from where they began their studies to one of our undergraduate degree courses. I asked them how it had been and what we could learn from the experience of these brave movers who shake things up by taking a bold step and shifting institutions midway through their course.

Let me begin with a caveat – there are many amazing places to student creative subjects across the UK and beyond. While we all want to promote our own unique institutions, we do not want to do this at the expense of our valued colleagues labouring elsewhere. Education, particularly creative education, is an eco-system and most of us know each other and care about each other! Nevertheless, each place has its strengths. A series of discussions with students who have moved to study on our creative courses midway through their studies in their second year or third year gives them perspective on the differences between institutions. It has helped me understand some of the inherent qualities that our courses, location and institution can offer.

Here’s what I learned that our students valued:

  1. I see you …

Some of the very large providers can be great for gregarious, self-starters who don’t mind being in big groups and who can forge their lives very independently from their University life. Don’t get me wrong, we have many outgoing, self-starting students! However, I’ve learned that we are also a great place for quieter students. For those people, big impersonal environments can make them feel lost and they feel anonymous.

The overwhelming feedback our movers and shakers gave me was that at Teesside University they felt seen and heard. They were not remote from their teachers but were connected and coached. Their ideas could come through and they developed projects that genuinely helped them find and grow their creative voice. Treated as a unique individual they felt seen and heard.

  1. Staff
Associate Professor Richard Sober talking to a student

Linked to the point above, a third-year graphic design student fed back that even in his first meeting with an academic staff member he had the most meaningful and useful conversation of his higher education experience to date. Our staff listen to their students and are great at tuning in to what makes them interesting and special. Gently and carefully our staff challenge them to produce their best work.

This nurturing and creative care-taking is visible across all of our courses. It shines out in student module feedback and our student surveys, but it’s a value that is easy to miss or misunderstand. In short, our staff are particularly good at helping creative students become uniquely their best selves. This links to the students’ ability to get into the career of their choice – they stand out.

  1. Students
Students working with staff in the printroom

The safe-space studio culture that is developed in our school across all subjects means that movers and shakers can quickly make friends. Everyone I talked to had been made to feel welcome. They felt like they were a positive addition to the group rather than a latecomer interloper.

Also, while many creative universities have large inner city campus venues in high value real-estate locations, one of the huge benefits of our locations is that we have spacious facilities. This means that students can enjoy an environment which isn’t under too much pressure from other groups. There is dwell space and students can drop in and use facilities out of class time. Our movers and shakers really enjoy this capacity and it’s not standard provision across the sector.

Because students are focused on being their best creative selves, the working environment feels supportive rather than competitive. This is really important to our movers and shakers who reported feeling anxiety due to competition in other settings.

  1. Smaller groups
Staff and student in our Graphic Design studio

Even when we have larger groups, our students are predominantly taught in small studio groups and work together on projects. For some students who love the scale and energy of a massive studio culture this would not matter. For others, however, they feel that the calmness and connectedness of a smaller group can allow them to create their best work. This was a theme throughout.

Movers and shakers enjoyed being in an environment where they knew the people that they were working alongside. They noted times when they’d worked with the support of their peer group and had gained useful advice and feedback.

  1. Space and Facilities
Film and TV Production facilities

We have brilliant facilities. This is something that is easy for us who are immersed in the place can take for granted. Movers and shakers love the access to our wood and metal workshops, fabric printing, paper workshops through to green screens and high-tech studios. They also love working with our specialist technicians who helped them develop their wackiest of ideas.

There are many other reasons to study one of our creative courses, these conversations really helped put into perspective what we offer both new starters and movers and shakers. I have learned a lot from the conversations with this group of students about what makes our learning community and environment work for students. Thank you to those who spent time talking with me.


Find out more about courses available in the

School of Arts & Creative Industries

Undergraduate Study:

Art & Design    

Media & Journalism 

Music Production

Postgraduate Study:

Art & Design

Media & Journalism



Booming Film and TV industry in the North East

Charlotte Nicol is Associate Dean, Enterprise and Knowledge Exchange in the School of Arts & Creative Industries – here she talks about the wealth of opportunities in our booming North East film and tv industry 

Charlotte Nicol

If you’re studying film and TV at the moment in the North East – great work! Now is the time to be studying this course, congratulations on choosing a booming industry and an incredible place to live

Studying TV & Film Production

The BBC has made its biggest investment in the North East for decades as part of a new partnership with the region, and will be spending a minimum of £25m over the next five years to fund network TV production, talent development and support for the creative sector.

All of the local authorities and the combined authorities in the region have supported this financially (which, having come from a local authority I know is no mean feat, particularly as there’s 12 of them!)  The North East Screen Industries Partnership will jointly invest £11.4 million, over a five year period to deliver a new Screen Industries Development Programme, maximising opportunities for significant growth within the screen industries sector and developing a thriving and sustainable ecosystem.

Creative Cities Convention at Teesside University

My experience of speaking to industry partners mirrors this – at the Royal Television Society awards, I sat next to a colleague who told me that the number of entries had grown exponentially in the past few years.   The region held the Creative Cities Conference at the Boilershop in Newcastle, and Teesside University hosted the Creative Cities Convention masterclasses.  Our guests included ITV Signpost, the BBC, Chanel 4, Middlechild, and gaming company Ubisoft. Our students even had the opportunity of meeting Johnny Moore, the Chief Executive of Fulwell 73 Productions, possibly the most in demand man of the moment to speak to our students.  A couple of weeks ago I also had the pleasure of meeting the most down to earth and lovely Franc Roddam, acclaimed film Director, businessman, screenwriter, television producer and publisher, best known as the creator of Auf Wiedersehen, Pet and the director of Quadrophenia (check out our scholarships here).

Franc Roddam scholarships for Film & TV Production students

My biggest take away from all the interactions I’ve had with people from this industry has been that not only do students need to be connecting with these amazing industry opportunities (first have a look at North East Screen) anyone hoping to enter this industry needs to build their soft skills as well as screen skills.

After reading ‘Tools of Titans’ which outlines the routine of super successful people, my favourite question to ask successful industry partners is ‘what do you do to make your life manageable?’ (I once asked Tony Hall from the BBC this when I met him and he told me he loved to garden and that’s what kept him going!)

In the film and TV industry it seems that resilience is absolutely key.   The wisdom that partners have shared with me is that any students considering going into the film and TV industry need to get thick skin and get it quick!

At Creative Cities I spoke to a screenwriter who told me about a very detailed morning ritual that involved getting up at 5am, exercising, having a cold water shower, and meditating.  I spoke to Franc Roddam about his experience of failure and he said ‘fail, fail harder and fail faster’, Franc said he had developed such resilience from all the rejection he received.  Charlotte Broadley at Channel 4 said that the best piece of advice she got was to be yourself be authentic and not to be afraid of getting things wrong.

Creative Cities Convention at Teesside University

It’s quite easy to talk about but hard to put into practice, the combined wisdom of all of our industry partners was that you can’t learn to fail if you don’t try things, get it wrong, and try again. 

Interested to find out more about our courses in Film and Television? Further information at the links below:

BA (Hons) Film and Television production

MA Producing for Film and Television

Chefs you’ve got 2 minutes: 5 lessons from the Master

Dr Laura Sillars, Dean of the School of Arts & Creative Industries, reflects on discussions with Franc Roddam about opportunities in the Film and Television production industry.

Renowned for cult-classic Quadrophenia, Auf Wiedersehen Pet and MasterChef, film maker, director, producer and one-time Norton-born Franc Roddam is a titan in industry. He is also known for his work capturing the complex lives of individuals who break the mould, such as the story of Michael ‘Mini’ who tried to burn down his own house as a child.

Scholarship Celebration Event (Laura SIllars, Franc Roddam, Charlotte Nicol, Lauren Bradshaw, Joanne Bulmer)

Franc generously supports a scholarship programme for Film and TV students at Teesside University and recently  returned to meet some of those he supports as well as a wider cohort of students from every level. Each session involved coaching and mentoring. Franc was honest, engaging and insightful drawing on his experience of working inside institutions such as the BBC or industrial systems such as Hollywood. Below, I’ve tried to capture the questions our students asked and our shared learning …

Question.1: How do I get my first job?

It’s a question that many students have when thinking about their first steps in the industry. From day one, our courses demystify the process of working in the creative industries, but nevertheless, jumping out of uni and into the world is daunting.

Franc says: Do the Hustle

Franc focused on the reality that hustling – for work, for your project to be commissioned, funded, developed, repeated – is a reality throughout your career. Developing hustling skills is central to all creative industries. That doesn’t mean you have to holler like a market trader. Hustling is about building relationships, pitching in small and larger ideas to other people’s project, always having your pitch up your sleeve and getting involved. In the early days, really, you’re pitching yourself – can I work on this film? Is there a role I can progress to? If this seems off-putting, think of it like this, if you’re always working in the service of a film or tv project, then you’re offering to serve not to self-aggrandize.

The more experience you have the better service you can contribute to the community. So, keep up with the hustle! And don’t let rejection put you off. You’ll be hustling throughout the whole of your career in any career, so get started now! Hustle your tutors for extracurricular opportunities, or people you’d like to hear from in class who aren’t yet on the speaker list; attend the early career sessions run by the North East Screen agency and make sure they know you’re up for opportunities; hustle your local film festival to create a student slot … whatever it is don’t wait for something to be delivered on a plate … be proactive, go and ask for it

Question 2: How do I find the area that will suit me best?

It’s important to know what you want, where you are trying to get to – but how do you find this out in the early days of your career?

Franc says: ‘Know thyself’

Franc asked the group, are you a ‘top down’ person who is great with ideas and likes leading a band of creatives? Do you want to focus on writing/directing? Or are you a ‘bottom-up’, skills-based person who seeks to perfect an aspect of the craft (camera, sound, light, editing)? Yes, to make it work, you might need to become both for a time! But, if you have a sense of your direction, you can build the bank of evidence that you need to share with potential supporters (employers, commissioners, funders). This will also help you focus. Franc suggested to the group that they think about the areas that they naturally like doing, ask their classmates, ask their tutors where they seem to excel.

Apply self-reflection skills. What do I like doing? What am I naturally good at? Think broad here. Are you the one who makes tea and solves conflict?  Producer! Are you the one who can problem solve the camera/screen/computer? Editor/Camera/Technical! Are you the one who goes behind the scenes and gets the props, costumes sorted? Art director! There are so many roles and routes, but finding one that connects to your inherent personality will let you thrive and enjoy your job. It will likely mean that you can excel.

Franc Roddam Scholarship students Jack Simmons and Louise Strike meeting Franc

Question 3: How do I build my career direction while making a living?

Your career will be long and rich and yes, you need to keep afloat and make a living.  Most successful people had their own challenges in the early days.

Franc says: Take calculated risks!

Things have changed now, but when Franc started he faced the chicken and egg problem that you needed be in the right union to get a job, and to get into the right union you needed to have a track record. So, instead he joined an advertising firm. He explained that as well as being a junior advertising executive he would also need to gain production credits. When he was offered a role at the BBC for a 9-week contract, he resigned from his well-paid advertising job and took a risk. This was the flip he’d been waiting for – the move from making a living while building skills to making a career. Note here the hustling, the self-awareness, but also, the risk taking.

If you want to be a director/writer you need to keep making things even as you’re making a living. This can be challenging, so think carefully about which skills you seek to develop to make your way. Focusing on skills such as production (from runner to catering) might be better than going for the technical areas where it can take years to build up the skills. If you’re a technical skills-based specialist by nature, you will need people to feed back on your work so you can progress. Ongoing specialist technical mentoring through experienced members of your field is invaluable, so look out for people who will give this to you.

Question 4. What about when things go wrong?

The students talked about the fear of making an error, or how to come back from a rejection or having genuinely made a mistake.

Franc says: We all have moments when we fail, get a kicking or have to take feedback. Learn to listen and reflect … move on and learn.

Failure is part of learning. This does not mean that you fall flat on your face and can never get up again. It might be learning that a certain shot doesn’t work, that you’ve invested in a scene that falls apart because of the weather, the equipment, the actors, the camera, and you didn’t have the tool kit to sort it out. Franc talked about some of his early experiences in Hollywood where he wanted to make auteur-led, politically charged films that changed the world. He was, he realised, in the wrong place. In Hollywood, you do what Hollywood wants. He talked about getting great reviews and dreadful ones, often written by the same critics. Developing a thick skin and not defining your success by external markers.

Yes, criticism stings, but learning to fail better is about learning to work out what you can extract from the feedback you’ve received … however brutal it might be. Get back up. Dust yourself down. Collect your friends around you. Take a deep breath. Keep going.

No. 5 – How do I stand out from the crowd?

There are so many people who seek to work in this field and our students wanted to know how they could make themselves distinctive.

Franc says: Don’t we all want to be special?

Don’t worry about standing out. Work in service of the film or project that you’re ushering into the world. You might rise into the spotlight or become one of the many thousand of brilliant people who contributed skill and excellence to make something happen that is bigger than all of you put together. Find satisfaction in being part of the bigger whole: the film, the industry, the community.

Franc had been reading a book by the art editor of The New Yorker magazine Adam Gopnik on turning ideas into reality in The Real Work. Gopnik notes that there are masters everywhere – not just the celebrated names, but swathes of people. You might become a well-known person in your field, but this might not translate into fame that goes beyond that field. This does not mean that the work you’re doing is not important. Far from it, excellence depends upon a community of professionals dedicated to excellence. So, don’t chase fame, chose instead to seek solid, meaningful experiences of contributing to projects that excite you and which will live in your imagination for the future. If you can tell a great story about your contribution to a project, that is a marker of success.

To conclude, our sessions with Franc were inspirational. I watched first year students have their concepts coached and creatively challenged by a master in the field. I heard second year students critically reflecting upon their productions. Final year students talked positively about the next steps in their career, and masters students spoke confidently about how they could influence change in their sector. I heard our students talking about their work, their careers and their collaborations with each other. They were just amazing.

I left feeling enormously hopeful about the future of film and tv!

Find out more about our  courses:

BA (Hons) Film and Television Production

MA Producing for Film and Television


MIMA Great Create Finalists revealed

We received over 90 incredible entries to this year’s MIMA Great Create competition, with some outstanding creativity expressed on our theme of the wonderful world of books. Difficult as it is to choose finalists from such an outstanding pool of creativity, our judging panel have decided upon the following 5 entries to go through to the finals on Saturday 18th March.

(finalists listed in numerical order of entry)

Entry number 25, by Hayley Harris

My illustration is inspired by Frances Hodgson Burnett’s book, The Secret Garden. I feel a strong connection with the book and characters, having lost a parent and being surrounded by wildlife and nature has helped to heal, give guidance and comfort. The scene that I chose to encapsulate is when the robin shows the way to the door and sadness is given some light and healing through nature. In my illustration, one side represents the four seasons in black and white, to show sorrow and grief. This gradually transforms into colour where nature heals the pain and shows light again.

Entry Number 25, The Secret Garden

Entry number 45 by Megan Keedy

I have created a photography piece relating to the books of the Twilight series. I have taken photographic images to inspire a dark setting with roses and gore/blood. Additionally, I have displayed my piece with dark red lights and more flowers . It relates to the book, by the end of the last scene with the fight of the vampires and the Voltari, and also the black and red robes.

Entry number 45, The Twilight Series

Entry number 53 by Rebecca Fletcher

This oil painting is based on the autobiographical book ‘The Bell Jar’ by Sylvia Plath. I was inspired to create a piece representing Esther’s descent into depression and regression into madness, to encapsulate the feelings in her book that could not be described. I intended to capture her breakdown, the horror and tragedy of her life and the societal expectations placed upon her by imprisoning the face with fingers. The possessive hands gripping onto her and confining the face were used as symbolism for the entrapment, anxiety and isolation that Esther felt at her lack of freedom.

Entry number 53, The Bell Jar

Entry number 61 by Tony Hamill

This is my entry for the book “Diary of a Young Naturalist” by Dara McAnulty. The book is written from the author’s perspective of an autistic young adult and is replete with scenes told from a unique perspective full of wonder and magic. This image is of grasshoppers and dragonflies in the undergrowth and is intended to capture the scene through the author’s eyes.  It was digitally created, allowing me more control over the process of layered objects and background details.  I used a process of pen and eraser to get a strong depth to the vines and undergrowth and make them appear intertwined.

Entry number 61, Diary of a Young Naturalist

Entry number 81 by Ayebabeledaipre Sokari

The illustration is for the book titled, Notes on Grief, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. The scene is portraying the author writing down her thoughts in phases. It hopes to capture the forlorn moment of her pouring out all she felted about the death of her late father. The window representing a reflection of the past and present where she stays in-between thoughts. “Grief is forcing new skins on me, scraping scales from my eyes…. I cage my thoughts, I torque my mind firmly to its shallow surface alone. I am unable to quiet myself until I look away.” She speaks.

Entry number 81, Notes on Grief

A huge thank you to all entrants – the submissions were quite outstanding, making the judges jobs incredibly challenging. Our finalists’ work will be displayed in a pop-up-exhibition in MIMA (Middlesborough Institute of Modern Art) along with a showcase of all the 20 shortlisted entries from Saturday 18th March, when the overall winner will be announced at 4pm. If you would like to come along to the finals event from 3pm – 5pm please contact us on 

Take a look at our courses in the School of Arts & Creative Industries


Art & Design Courses

Media & Journalism Courses

Music Technology Courses

Performing Arts Courses


Art & Design Courses

Media & Journalism Courses

An Artist in Venice

Our partnership with the British Council Venice Biennale Fellowship programme opens up a unique opportunity for  students in the School of Arts & Creative Industries to apply for British Council Fellowships. Fine Art student, Leah Roberts tells us all about her fellowship in Venice

Rialto Bridge, Venice

The Venice Biennale, La Biennale de Venezia, is recognised as one of the most famous and prestigious cultural institutions in the world, standing at the forefront of research and promotion of new contemporary art trends – the Art Bienelle is a world leader in contemporary art exhibitions with over 86 countries represented.

The legendary canals

Being given the opportunity to apply for a fellowship was incredible – the Fellowships programme is there to enrich the biennale exhibition, and Fellows are given the opportunity to spend a month in Venice during this phenomenal cutlural event, all supported with a grant to cover travel, accomodation and living costs.  For me personally, I wanted to be part of it because I knew that Sonia Boyce was exhibiting – I love Sonia Boyce and everything that she stands for as an artist, but also as a black female.

Photo from Leah’s Degree Show project

I ended up applying at the last minute and stayed up the night before the deadline, completing my application form, so I was shocked when I found out that I had been awarded a Fellowship.  During my time as a Fellow I received training on invigilation and public engagement in exhibitions and worked as a steward around the British Pavillion, helping to guide visitors and conducting tours to explain the work on display.  It was an incredible opportunity to develop a creative and professional network and I was fascinated to find out about different artists that I had never seen or even heard of before, and observing their perceptions of the Milk of Dreams.

Leah’s art
Leah’s art








Without doubt the experience has really helped me to develop my dissertation and my degree show project. I feel that I have grown as an artist as I’ve been able to see first hand people who create work like myself. I’d like to think that the experience will also help me moving forwards, to communicate my ideas to a more diverse and international audience. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I’ll always remember it as the thing that I have loved most about my time at Teesside University.

Leah telling us what she has loved most about her time studying at Teesside University in our “Have a Heart” competition

Find out more about Leah’s course, BA (Hons) Fine Art here

Find out about our MA Fine Art here

Follow Leah on Instagram @Leah_roberts99

Ordinary People

Whilst writing this blog post, I’ve had to stop several times to recognise and reflect on the theme of Ordinary People on International Holocaust Memorial Day. Ordinary People were involved in all aspects of the Holocaust, Nazi persecution of other groups, and in the genocides that took place in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur. Ordinary People were perpetrators, bystanders, rescuers, witnesses – and Ordinary People were, and still are, the victims.

Angela Lawrence, Associate Dean, School of Arts & Creative Industries

I recently returned from a trip to Southeast Asia which included several days in Cambodia, one of the most beautiful countries I have had the privilege to explore. I’m repeatedly asked the question “how was your holiday?”, but in all honesty it didn’t feel like a holiday – more a kind of fascinating but sobering history field trip. Our feet barely touched the ground. We travelled over 22,500 miles across Vietnam and Cambodia in 21 days, by aeroplane, bus, car and tuk tuk, and we walked over 65 miles. We hitched up our backpacks and boarded the overnight sleeper buses that the locals use. We visited UNESCO World Heritage sites such as Halong Bay and the Angkor Wat temple complex. We shared meals and had conversations with lots of Ordinary People that we met along the way, from Cambodia, Vietnam and all corners of the world.

Streetside conversations
Halong Bay, Vietnam
Sunrise at Angkor Wat, Cambodia

We visited the famous Angkor Wat temple site, rising at 4am to catch the sunrise over the temples – I climbed to the top of Angkor Wat and looked down on the stunning canopy of Cambodia before going on to visit the Bayon temple and the Ta Prohm Temple, where Tomb Raider was filmed. We swam beneath huge waterfalls and laughed and danced with the barefoot local children. We visited Hoa Lo Prison, aka the Hanoi Hilton, and learned of the appalling lives of the political prisoners who had the misfortune to be incarcerated there.

Ta Prohm Temple
Swimming beneath waterfalls in Cambodia

But by far the most moving site we visited was the Cambodia Landmine Museum. A tiny, outdoor collection in an area no bigger than the ground floor of your average 3-bedroomed house, which cost just $5 to enter (yes, the dominant currency in Cambodia is surprisingly USA dollars, although you’ll often get your change in Cambodian Riel). Here we learned of the atrocities of the Cambodia genocide and of the grim legacy left by the Khmer Rouge; the thousands of unexploded landmines still littering the rice fields, roads, and back yards of this war-ravaged country.

Cambodia Landmine Museum
Mr Aki Ra

We were humbled and honoured to meet the founder of the museum, Mr Aki Ra – an orphan of the Khmer Rough regime before he was even 5 years old, he became a child-soldier whose role was planting these terrible weapons that still today injure and kill dozens of civilians. In 1987 he defected from the Khmer Rouge and joined the Vietnamese army. Knowing so much about land mines and having trained with the United Nations at the end of the war, he became a deminer and spent over a decade clearing mines before opening the land mine museum. The museum was not only a place to tell the story of the Cambodia genocide, but also a home for many children, Ordinary People, who were orphaned by landmines or landmine victims. Mr Aki Ra estimates that he has probably cleared over 50,000 mines and unexploded ordinance (UXO) in his lifetime, yet there are still many more to be found.

Tuk tuks

We weren’t brave enough to visit the Killing Fields, but we felt the impact of the Cambodia genocide in conversations with tuk tuk drivers, market traders, barefoot children, street food vendors, and many other Ordinary People that we met during our travels.  It was a sobering reminder of just how privileged we are to live the lives that we live, in the peaceful countries that we live in.

If I could wish one thing for this incredible country, it is that more of us choose to experience its beauty and contribute towards its ongoing development. The loss of tourism since Covid lockdowns has hit them hard and they are desperate to share their country and their story with visitors – the story of Ordinary People like you or I whose lives have been devastated by the brutality of war.

Beautiful children, Cambodia



The future of curating at MIMA

The School of Arts & Creative Industries at Teesside University, welcomed its first cohort of  Curator apprentices recently and is looking forward to growing numbers on the unique programme. Professor Sarah Perks and Dr Paul Stewart comment on the success and popularity of this groundbreaking new apprenticeship

Teesside University are the first university to launch the Curator apprenticeship, leading the way with a highly experienced professional team and building on the reknowned work of MIMA (Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art), an international art gallery and museum that sits at the artistic heart of the School of Arts & Creative Industries on the Teesside University campus.

Apprentice Curators at MIMA

The Curator apprenticeship is embedded into the MIMA programme, allowing apprentices access to all resources and also for students following the non-apprenticeship route  to contribute to a range of events, projects and exhibitions as part of their learning. It benefits from a knowledgeable and vastly experienced team leading sessions, including our Professor of Curating, Sarah Perks, Dr Paul Stewart, Elinor Morgan (Artistic Director at MIMA), Helen Welford and Dr Pippa Oldfield – all based within the school. Tutors for the first module include Daniella Rose-King (Tate) and independent curator, George Vasey, with guest speakers including Emily Pringle (Tate) and Sophia Hao (Cooper Gallery, Dundee).

Apprentices in the MIMA Gallery

Professor Perks said

“Starting the first Level 7 Apprenticeship in Curating has been such a fabulous journey for myself and my colleagues in the school and MIMA, we have been so excited during the design and implementation of the course and to be able welcome the first cohort to Middlesbrough has made it very real.

We have an even larger cohort for the next intake and a whole new module focused on access, inclusion and working with collections (of all types), with a large group joining us from the National Trust, as far away as Penzance!

We’re getting more and more enquiries from outside of museums and galleries which is really exciting. It’s also helping our research into curatorial strategies too, where we are very focused on activity with local communities and nature recovery.”

Taking part in an intensive study week

The Curator apprenticeship benefits from an intesive block delivery model, with apprentices required to attend 3 one-week blocks of learning across each year of the 2-year course. On completion of the apprenticeship the award of MA Curating is received alongside the Curator Apprenticeship.

Dr Paul Stewart leading a taught session

Dr Stewart comments

“It was a fantastic experience to work with such a diverse and passionate group across multiple areas of curating, from galleries to archives across collections and public programming. The course has really developed a fantastic peer group and solidifed the need to further establish new ways of learning and teaching across the arts and curatorial sectors that support new and multiple entry points.

The apprenticeship builds on the work MIMA already does, connecting art, people and ideas to empower creative lives and positively contribute to the community.”

Apprentices in the MIMA Gallery

Further information about the Curator Apprenticeship

in the School of Arts & Creative Industries at

Teesside University can be found here

From MIMA to Milan for Modern Artisan, Emily

Since graduating from Teesside University with a degree in Fashion Design, life has been a whirlwind for designer Emily Dey. A graduate programme was followed by the opportunity to take part in a once-in-a-lifetime Modern Artisan training programme, giving her the confidence to launch her very own fashion brand. Emily tells her story here…

I began the Modern Artisan programme in London, September 2021. I’d applied for the programme a couple of months previously and waited till the final day before the applications closed as I couldn’t stop swapping and changing my CV and portfolio until the last minute. When I got an interview I couldn’t believe it and rehearsed for hours what I was going to say.

The whole application and interview process was rather intense and very competitive, so when I finally found out I’d secured a place on the programme I was beyond ecstatic.

Before the programme I had just taken part in one of the Teesside University Graduate programmes. I worked for 3 months between the University and MIMA helping curate a sustainable materials library alongside different innovative fashion items. This was all part of the award-winning Chemical City Exhibition shown at MIMA (winner of the Best Exhibition category in the NE Culture Awards). I think that having this experience with the university and being able to curate all the knowledge of sustainable and innovative fabrics really enhanced my chances when applying for Modern Artisan, as that is really what the programme is all about… a sustainable, ethical and innovative future for the fashion industry.

Emily Dey, Sewing machine, Fashion
Emily Dey designing her branded fashion collection

I had heard about the Teesside University Graduate programme from my previous tutor, Lynne Hugill as I’d studied Fashion Design at Teesside University, graduating with a First Class Honours in 2020. Before applying to do Fashion Design I had very little experience on a sewing machine and zero experience pattern cutting – I just liked clothes and designing. Everything I know about creating garments and sewing began at university and I fell in love with it straight away. I have Amanda Jobling and Vicky Wake to thank for teaching me everything about sewing and pattern cutting. They set me on the path to being a Modern Artisan, where I refined all I was taught at university.

In October 2021, The Prince’s Foundation and YOOX NET-A-PORTER unveiled the new artisans in training for the second edition of the responsible luxury training programme at the pre-COP 26 event hosted by the UK Government’s Department for International Trade in Milan. This year’s programme brought together eight artisans, four British fashion and textiles graduates, along with four Italian graduates from the leading Italian design school, Politecnico di Milano. Us artisans embarked on a collaborative ten-month paid training programme, with design training guided by experts from YOOX NET-A-PORTER and industry mentors, and training on small batch luxury production and heritage craftsmanship skills to help build capacity in the UK delivered by The Prince’s Foundation.

King Charles and Emily at Dumfries House

In January 2022, all eight artisans came together at The Prince’s Foundation’s Dumfries House headquarters in East Ayrshire, Scotland. We lived and worked here for six months of intensive training in luxury small batch production. Throughout our time at Dumfries House, we gained the skills to handcraft the entire collection to the highest of standards.

Emily meets the now King Charles

Over the course of the programme, we also had industry visits in the UK and Italy and received ongoing mentorship from YOOX NET-A-PORTER, The Prince’s Foundation and brand partners, initial brand mentors include Gabriela Hearst, Giuliva Heritage, Nanushka, VIN + OMI, Johnstons of Elgin, Tiziano Guardini, Flavia La Rocca and ZEROBARRACENTO.

On the 3rd of November 2022, YOOX NET-A-PORTER and The Prince’s Foundation announced the launch of our responsible ready-to-wear luxury womenswear capsule collection. Available exclusively on NET-A-PORTER and YOOX, 50% of the RRP is donated to The Prince’s Foundation, to support its innovative training programmes. For the first time, Highgrove Gardens, adjacent to Their Majesties The King and The Queen Consort’s private residence, served as an inspiration for a fashion collection. The programme and capsule reflect the initiative’s commitment to advance sustainability in luxury fashion and preserve heritage textile skills. We also demonstrate the shared ambition of YOOX NET-A-PORTER and The Prince’s Foundation to preserve the planet for future generations. It is the first collection to align 100% with the Infinity Product Guide, its sustainability and circularity design guidelines, and its first ever carbon neutral collection.

Each piece is embedded with a Digital ID through YOOX NET-A-PORTER’s partnership with EON, leveraging innovative technology to create a more circular industry and responsible customer mindset by unlocking unique product insights as well as care and repair and resale services. The Digital ID also shares with customers how YOOX NET-A-PORTER worked with environmental consultancy Carbonsink to minimise, calculate, and compensate for the carbon footprint of each garment. Carbon credits support the Artisans’ chosen certified offsetting project: Kariba Forest Protection, which protects forests and wildlife and supports community-based training and upskilling on the Zimbabwean-Zambian border.

Now that the Modern Artisan programme has come to an end, I have been working hard on my own brand, Dey Studios. It has always been a dream of mine to own my own fashion brand and with everything I have learnt from Modern Artisan, I feel that now is the perfect time to take the leap.

Dey Studios fashion brand

Dey Studios an independent, British slow fashion brand designed and founded by myself, Emily Dey. Every garment is carefully hand-made using sustainably sourced or dead-stock fabrics. All items are made on a pre-order basis to prevent wastage. This means every item is made in a much more responsible way. In the past, clothing was made to last – nobody ever thought to wear something once then throw it away. We invested in clothing we loved and wore it over and over again and if it broke, we’d simply fix it. Dey Studios wants to bring this back to the norm. Every item is lovingly hand-made in the North East of England, and made to be worn again and again. Dey Studios is reminiscent of all things fashion, film and music of the past. Not only were things made to last but they were beautiful  too.

Each garment gives a nod to past decades where ‘fashion’ wasn’t important, as long as you had ‘style’.

When it came to owning my own brand, I needed all the support I could get so when I moved back home to Teesside, I applied to be part of the Launchpad FUEL Programme here at the university. The FUEL Programme is a 7 week Graduate Start-Up Programme where I was able to take part in numerous workshops and mentoring sessions all dedicated to helping founders learn about all stages of starting a business.

Check out Dey Studios’ Insta page @_deystudios

The FUEL Programme has taught me so many aspects of running a business that I otherwise wouldn’t have known where to start. At the end of the 7 weeks, each business founder had the opportunity to pitch to the trustees for grant funding. I was delighted to have been successful in the pitch and have secured grant money to help take Dey Studios to the next level. As well as funding I have also moved into studio space here at Teesside university, which is paramount when running a clothing brand so I am very grateful.

Follow Emily on Instagram at @_deystudios or email Emily on

Find out more about studying BA Fashion at Teesside University

MIMA Creative Week

MIMA Creative Week is firmly set in the calendar for students in the School of Arts & Creative Industries – here’s what’s happening!

The week commencing Monday 24th October 2022 sees the start of our first of two MIMA Creative Weeks of this academic year, a week when we celebrate the diversity of creative subjects. MIMA Creative Week has been developed in response to student feedback, telling us that they wanted more time to develop their creative skills, the opportunity to explore the school’s wide range of facilities, take some time out to focus on their wellbeing and seek out new opportunities.

Victoria Graham, Waterhouse Building print studio

For this MIMA Creative Week we’ve put together an exciting timetable of activities, workshops, sessions and trips developed by academic and technical staff. Students and staff have access to a dedicated site which includes the timetable and a range of on demand content. Most workshops and sessions require booking, so students need to be quick off the mark to reserve their place! 

The schedule includes a range of school workshops, both online and in our studios around the campus, including:

      • Career boost sessions
      • Photography workshops
      • Adobe & Microsoft accreditation sessions
      • Visual Arts sessions
      • Art to Object workshops
      • Belonging banner design
      • Create tomorrow together session

Art & Design workshops throughout the week include:

      • Laser cutting
      • Book binding
      • Turning
      • Cyanotype/Blueprint photos
      • Create your own Album art

Media workshops throughout the week include:

      • Introduction to the TV Studio
      • Camera sessions
      • Lighting sessions
      • Audio creation sessions
      • Editing sessions
      • Sound stage introduction sessions

Students wanting to know details of where to book sessions, check for an email and blackboard announcement titled MIMA Creative Week advising of the schedule, or contact for a schedule to be sent to you.

Take a look at our courses in the School of Arts & Creative Industries


Art & Design Courses

Media & Journalism Courses

Music Technology Courses

Performing Arts Courses


Art & Design Courses

Media & Journalism Courses


Future Communities at Rievaulx Abbey

Rievaulx Abbey in North Yorkshire, an English Heritage site and home of the ruins of one of England’s most powerful Cistercian monasteries, was the venue for a recent Future Communities Journey for Teesside University students.

Students from the school of Arts & Creative Industries spent the day at Rievaulx Abby in North Yorkshire as part of a Global Future Contexts module, culminating in the installation of a temporary artwork on site. The installation comprised students developing constitutions which were displayed on forms designed to represent shelter and community. The forms echoed both simple ‘tents’ and the rooflines of the Abbey which were lost during the dissolution of the monasteries. 

Student installations

Students were encouraged to work in new surroundings and contexts whilst undertaking primary research and the history of the Abbey provided a lens with which to identify and explore contexts relating to community and social organisation.


A comprehensive briefing was provided for the day, explaining that the Journey was to explore contexts relating to time, community, politics, economics, resources and identity. The module theme of People & People was to be discussed through a temporary installation built by the students on site at Rievaulx Abbey. Students were able to consider the history of the site, drawing links with contemporary times in order to present a speculative vision for a future community.

The briefing went on to give context to the surroundings:

As artists and designers we often create forms of visual and material culture that relate to specific people, times and places. This Journey takes place amongst the ruins of Rievaulx Abbey, a Cistercian monastery built next to the river Rye. Founded in 1131, the monastery grew into ‘one of the most powerful and spiritually renowned centres of monasticism in Britain.’ Changing political contexts led to the monastery being violently suppressed and dismantled by order of King Henry VIII in 1538. Now the ruins are a recognised national historic monument cared for by English Heritage.

Students were encouraged to consider historical and contemporary social and environmental contexts including:

      • Community structures
      • Rules and laws
      • Resources and economics
      • Foundation, formation and decline of communities
      • Centralised and decentralised organisation
      • Political repression and censorship
      • Trade, barter and exchange

Working in groups and using their findings from research at Rievaulx and their own prior knowledge, students created the constitution and material culture (artefacts) of a local future community. The constitution was presented in the form of a shelter that was erected alongside the constitutions of other communities. Each shelter displayed:
1. A written constitution outlining community resources, social organisation and ways of being.
2. Symbolism and ideologies expressed as selected artefact(s). (i.e. tools, garments or graphics)

Student groups developing constitutions

Groups were also asked to provide information on social organisation, rules and laws, resources, production and trade, transport and forms of energy use for their community. Once shelters were erected they were then asked to vote for the community they wanted to live in and the best thinking and presentation of idea

Each constitution was drawn onto fabric and suspended in a frame provided.

“Reborn” constitution

Angela Peirson, Education Visits Officer at Rievaulx Abbey said

Staff and visitors alike enjoyed the work created by the students. The linking of the rise and fall of the community of monks with students then setting up their own community constitutions and displaying them as tents gave an interesting visual display as well as plenty of food for thought for us all. 

The workshop was designed and delivered by Senior Lecturer, Charlie Tait, whose teaching practice often involves co-creation with students through learning partnerships. Charlie commented:

English Heritage representatives were really enthused by the unique approach to the site which started with an excellent contextual introduction to the Abbey tailored to the aims of the workshop by site guide Dr Greg Hoyland.

Students worked hard on the day and it was particularly inspiring to see them engaging as teams within the ruins as they set about the creation of their communities 

Putting the frames together
Constitution attached to a frame
One of the constitutions attached to the frame

The Global Future Contexts module is studied in the second year of a 3-year Arts degree and supports students in investigating a range of contemporary social, environmental, technological and ethical issues to inform all types of art and design practice. Students broaden their understanding of creativity as a practice-based form of contemporary social discourse and explore a variety of issues through the development, production and presentation of potential future scenarios.

The module is taught on the following degree programmes:

BA (Hons) Fine Art

BA (Hons) Fashion

BA (Hons) Graphic Design

BA (Hons) Illustration