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Art Alumni Biographies

Jessica Bennett

BA (Hons) Fine Art Northumbria Alumna.

Jessica Bennett is an independent curator based between Newcastle upon Tyne and Liverpool, UK. Her current research and curatorial practice seeks to explore how we traverse, and work within the conditions of contemporary society ~ using notions of exchange, collectivity, and connectivity as filters through which to better understand a future built on sustainability and solidarity. Bennett’s practice is rooted firmly within the artist-led; finding solace in spaces that allow for urgent critical questions and ideas to emerge. She is fascinated with alternative curatorial methods, working to understand and examine the exhibition space as an engaging and participatory space for artistic research. This has seen her work with key organisations in the UK, such as the Liverpool Biennial, The Newbridge Project, System Gallery, and recently new Manchester based project PINK.


Annalisa – Gem Arts

MA Creative and Cultural Industries Management Northumbria Alumna.

Annalisa is passionate about cultures and ways to learn different traditions. This led her, after collage to make the decision to move from Italy and to live in Spain for a while, later moving to the UK.

She has a Bachelor Degree in Tourism Management and an MA in Creative and Cultural Industries Management. Alongside her Masters studies, she has done the work placement as Communications Assistant at Tyne and Wear Archives Museum and helped with The Late Shows. She also joined Team Juice and with other young people organised Juice Festival and she volunteered for GemArts at their Masala Festival. Annalisa is currently working as a Project Manager Assistant/Administrator at GemArts and as freelance Project Coordinator at Skimstone Arts.


Jade Sweeting

From studying a BA (Hons) Fine Art at Northumbria University and graduating in 2011, I was awarded with a Graduate Fellowship at Northumbria University in Print Making, specialising in Screen Print. From 2013 I carried out my practice and became co-founder and director of Pulled Print Club specialising in Screen Print services, with a key focus to push the medium placing a strong emphasis on intuition and skill as on DIY ethics and communal practice. I currently work as Print Making Technician situated in the Fine Art department at Newcastle University, in addition to carrying out my own personal practice. My main interests are situated within subcultures, archives and recycling found imagery whilst adapting my individual atheistic as a tool to educate and engage. Process is an important element in my practice, alongside analogue techniques, from traditional printmaking and darkroom photography.


Sophie Crocker

Sophie graduated in Fine Art from Northumbria in 2019. She now works at literature agency New Writing North as a Programme Officer in the Participation and Young People team. In this role she is responsible for the Young Writers’ City programmes in Newcastle and Sunderland as well as a number of other groups and projects. Prior to this she has worked in a number of different roles for The Challenge on the delivery on the NCS programme. Sophie has also worked as a facilitator of visual arts workshops for Headway Arts, and whilst she was a student she undertook two placements with the Newcastle Arts Development Team on their residency programme. Sophie recently performed at Cheeseburn Sculpture Gardens as part of their 2020 programme.

Image Credit: Sophie Crocker performing with Bethan Williams’ work Beatrix and Her Friends. Photographer: Georgia Bates.


Lyndsay Close

I started my degree at Northumbria in 2010 and graduated 3 years later with a BA in Fine Arts. To which I undertook knowing fine well I was not destined to be anything in the art world. 

In the briefest of introductions, I have gone from the mortgage section of a bank, through to making latte art, call centre work and swung it back round to running my own business. My day job consists of a few different tiles. My favourite one being the co-owner of Close Racing Limited. I run a motorsport race team that operates across Europe competing in Mazda MX5 races. My other hats include a motorsport coordinator for a multitude of different championships. I work for the BRSCC Mazda MX-5 Championship, BRSCC Mazda Supercup Championship and now the newly appointed BRSCC CityCarCup. To top it off I was the TV presenter for most of the club sport motorsport racing in the UK for two years before quitting this to become a mother. One thing is for certain a degree defiantly gets you ready to learn how to multitask, deal with deadlines and figure it out - ALONE.My talent was there but I am not ‘great’ and my communication skills left a lot to be desired at that time. There are some very clear people around you that you know ‘they will make it’ but I was okay knowing otherwise. However, art was my passion and I am now known for ‘out of the box’ thinking. I always credit it back to the foundations in which I was taught during my degree.

To be able to use the same methodology in which we were taught to ask questions, understand that there is more than the obvious and to look beyond what is in front of you, has made me a success in a career path that would have seen others fail. So what, motorsports was not a ‘normal’ progression, I question anyone who thinks that a fine art degree is about painting. It’s about changing your mindset. To be able to come up with a solution that otherwise would never have been thought of because the people around you have all been taught the same way out of a textbook, is priceless.


Jonpaul Kirvan

BA (Hons) Fine Art and MA Creative and Cultural Industries Management Northumbria Alumnus.

Orbis Commercial Union House.

Director, Project/Building Manager:

Using my experiences as a practising artist who has worked within many commercial, not-for-profit and cultural organisations, I have spent nine years fostering communities, establishing networks and encouraging creative development within eight floors of Commercial Union House.

Ampersand Inventions/Studios, Praxis Gallery.


I have built and manage a wide range of project/performance spaces, lecture rooms, studios and workshop space for a broad range of creative practitioners (including fine art, craft, and professionals from other creative industries) as well as acting as a conduit for collaboration between these individuals and groups and non-arts professionals and community groups.


Lily Mellor

Lily Mellor is currently the Programme Manager at Liverpool Biennial, the UK's festival of Contemporary Art. She completed her BA (Hons) in Fine Art in 2013, and then her Masters in Fine Art (MFA) in 2015, both at Northumbria University and whilst working at BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art. Lily went on to join the Biennial as a trainee in the Programming team and then a staff member in the Development team. She joined the Hull City of Culture team in 2017 as Assistant Producer on the Turner Prize at Ferens Art Gallery and went on to be Producer at Absolutely Cultured. In this role, she organised ambitious outdoor events, gallery exhibitions and talent development programmes that enhanced place, tell stories and brought people together. As Programme Manager at Liverpool Biennial, she leads the Programming team in the organisation and delivery of the festival and year-round projects.


Nicola Singh

Fine Art PhD at Northumbria.

Nicola Singh is an artist, educator and researcher from Newcastle upon Tyne. 

Her practice is rooted in performance, and she extends ideas of performance (liveness, the chemistry between bodies) to her practices of writing, exhibition making and film.  Singh makes her work in response to context of location and place, encounter and dialogue - and through a critical engagement with contemporary art's relationship to race and feminism.

Singh is Teaching Fellow in Fine Art for Leeds University and holds a practice-based PhD.

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