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Dr Judy Thomas

Senior Lecturer

Department: Arts

Dr Judy Thomas describes her practice as that of an Artist Facilitator.

Working with creative practitioners, teachers, professionals from the cultural sector and students from schools and universities, her research explores collaborative practice within the context of artist-led learning programmes. Current activities focus on the evaluation and professional development for the Paul Hamlyn Foundation funded programme Create Aspire Transform with Berwick Visual Arts.  Judy completed her practice-based PhD at Northumbria University in 2014, with her area of study concentrating on the Artist Facilitator role.

As Senior Lecturer, Judy teaches across the Arts Foundation and BA Fine Art undergraduate programmes. Judy has been actively involved in establishing postgraduate routes for qualified art teachers through the MA Fine Art and Education (2010-2016) and MA Contemporary Arts and Education programmes (2016-18) both in collaboration BALTIC, Centre for Contemporary Arts, Gateshead.

Drawing upon an extensive cultural network Judy shares these contacts and partnerships with students and colleagues. In recent years she has worked in a freelance capacity as Cultural Enterprise and Skills Coordinator for Museums and Archives Northumberland at Woodhorn, leading the Northumberland Creative Employment and Northumberland Strategic Capacity Building programmes. She also worked at Tyneside Cinema as Learning and Participation Programme Producer – Art, supporting The Factory, Tyneside Cinema's Young Peoples’ programme, Random Acts and leading on resources and interpretation for the Tyneside Cinema Gallery. She is a member of Mortal Fools theatre, drama and creative learning charity working as Creative Producer on Future Ready, a programme that uses theatre production as a vehicle to develop confidence, aspirations, social and emotional skills of young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) to prepare them for the transition from education into adult life.

Her previous roles include Learning Manager at Creativity, Culture and Education, Learning Manager at Waygood Gallery and Studios (now BALTIC 39) and Programme Manager (Learning and Inclusion) for Liverpool Biennial. Between 2004 and 2007 she was Acting Head of Education and Public Programme for BALTIC. She worked at BALTIC for four and a half years, with a specific focus on Formal Education. This followed a stint as secondary school teacher of Art and Design, a role that has informed her practice as gallery educator and her interest in learning through questioning and the creation of teaching resources.

Judy is an experienced subject focussed and chief External Examiner in UK Universities of programmes in Art Education including Liverpool John Moores University (2010–2014), Institute of Education: University College London (UCL) (2014–2018) and Goldsmiths University, Department of Educational Studies and Centre for Arts and Learning (CAL)  (2014–2019).

Judy Thomas

Research Themes and Scholarly Interests

My research advocates the role of the Artist Facilitator: exploring the development and practice of this position as mediator, mentor and catalyst. The research draws upon authentic relationships of working within a variety of contexts; partnering with a range of experts in particular fields of practice, drawing on my professional experience, including contemporary art education, gallery learning, cultural management and creative production in an applied theatre situation.

Ongoing fieldwork explores the impact of creativity on facilitated experiences, exploring new models of understanding, relating and application. This includes a focus on mutual and symbiotic relations between artists and communities: with particular interest in ethnographies of arts practice including artist-led environments, artist residencies and collaborative learning within a networked community.

This research investigates and identifies the measurement of artist-led approaches in situations of learning, with an interest in alternative methodologies, curriculum challenges and creative, cultural education. It tests and evaluates experiential approaches towards innovative pedagogy that stimulate critical dialogue and positive interaction, and draws on the importance of reflective practice and arts production to challenge aspiration and promote individual development.

Key Publications

  • Please visit the Pure Research Information Portal for further information
  • (Disruptive) Transitions, Thomas, J., Wakenshaw, S. 25 Jun 2021, The regional Three Rivers Learning and Teaching Conference 2021
  • Create Aspire Transform | North Northumberland Schools Cultural Education Leadership Programme: Final Evaluation, Thomas, J. 28 Feb 2020
  • And Shift! A Review of Approaches That Support Transition from A-Level Art and Design to Fine Art Undergraduate Study, Thomas, J. 2 Apr 2019, In: Arts
  • CREATE ASPIRE TRANSFORM: What is the Impact and Value of Creative Cultural Learning for Primary and Middle School Teachers?, Thomas, J. 8 May 2019, Cultural Education Research Initiative (CERI)
  • Unlocking the Gatekeepers: Building teacher confidence to engage in artist-led activity in schools, Thomas, J., Tobiass, V. 6 Nov 2019, Engage Conference 2019
  • Create Aspire Transform | North Northumberland Schools Cultural Education Leadership Programme: Phase 1 Evaluation, Thomas, J. 30 Aug 2018
  • How does the Artist Teacher find breathing space in a complex climate of change and challenge?, Thomas, J. 28 Jun 2018, NSEAD ANNUAL CONFERENCE 2018
  • Collaborative Dialogue: Connecting, conducting..., Thomas, J. 24 Mar 2017, National Association for Fine Art Education Annual Conference 2017
  • How do we change the system?, Thomas, J., Coles, S. 24 Mar 2017, National Association for Fine Art Education Annual Conference 2017
  • BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art and Northumbria University – BxNU Institute Of Contemporary Art, Thomas, J. 6 Jun 2015

Professional Activity

  • Please visit the Pure Research Information Portal for further information
  • Invited talk: Care-full/Care-less? 2021
  • Consultancy: Voice of the Creative - consultancy work - Celebrating Curiosity and Creativity in Central Northumberland 2019
  • Participating in a conference, workshop, ...: BXNU Symposium: In Need of Education 2018
  • Consultancy: Mortal Fools - Future Ready programme - consultancy work - Romeo and Juliet working with Collingwood School 2018
  • Other: Create Aspire Transform - PHF funded project activity with Berwick Visual Arts 2018
  • Organising a conference, workshop, ...: Let’s Meet in the Middle ...SymposiumLet’s Meet in the Middle ... 2018
  • Consultancy: Mortal Fools - Front Street Theatre - consultancy work - Melva 2017
  • Consultancy: Mortal Fools - Future Ready programme - consultancy work - The Tempest working with Collingwood School 2016
  • Consultancy: Mortal Fools - Future Ready programme - consultancy work - Hamlet - working with Collingwood School 2015

PGR Supervision

Elaine Robertson What are the key challenges for art and design students when required to generate new ideas in the early stages of the creative process? Start Date: 01/03/2020


  • Fine Art PhD July 15 2014
  • Fine Art MA June 30 2005
  • Education PGCE June 30 2001
  • Fellow (FHEA) Higher Education Academy (HEA) 2016
  • Associate Fellow (AFHEA) Higher Education Academy (HEA) 2014

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