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Personal profile

Academic Biography

Prof Sarah Perks is an internationally renowned curator specialising in interdisciplinary relational curatorial strategy based at Teesside University’s UK-leading contemporary art gallery and museum MIMA. Sarah leads the Centre for Culture and Creativity, a cross-school research centre that unites disciplines to focus on place-based challenges across the creative industries, environmental issues and inclusion. Sarah uses relational curatorial strategies to build engagement and empathy for nature recovery and other challenges, designing collaborative and future visioning projects for inclusive creative social action. These new curatorial methodologies combine creative practices (contemporary art, performance, creative writing and filmmaking) with science- or humanities- based explorations (ecopsychology, quantum physics, artificial intelligence, history and heritage) to investigate equitable and non-hierarchical human and non-human partnerships.


One of Creative Review’s 50 Creative Leaders in 2017, Sarah has led major participation, performance and curatorial projects with international artists including AL and AL, Rosa Barba, Judith Barry, Phil Collins, Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige, Stanya Kahn, David Lynch, Rachel Maclean, Noorafshan Mirza & Brad Butler, Rashid Rana and Qasim Riza Shaheen. Previous group exhibitions included The Return of Memory exploring the post-Soviet ‘New East’; La Movida responding to 40 years since the first elections in Spain; Imitation of Life: Race and Melodrama in the 21st Century, co-curated with Dr Omar Kholeif. Developing her career in education at Cornerhouse, Manchester, she became the inaugural Artistic Director (Visual Art) of HOME and Professor of Visual Art at Manchester School of Art in 2014. Current projects include Tomorrow exhibition with Freedom Women Collective (August 2023, Hull), The Ignorant Arts Schools (British Art Network Research Group), and Natural Futures, researching inclusive creative nature recovery with Borderlands, Tees Valley Nature Partnership and Natural England.


Sarah has published extensively including setting up the experimental HOME Publications for new forms of exhibition catalogue combining creative writing and cultural theory. A specialist in art and experimental film, Sarah was co-editor of Artists Moving Image in Britain Since 1989 with Dr Erika Balsom and Dr Lucy Reynolds (Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art & Yale University Press, 2019); co-founder and director of Feature Expanded with Leonardo Bigazzi, a trailblazing development programme for visual artists making feature films, and programme advisor for BFI London Film Festival. Sarah is a trustee of Alchemy Film & Arts and Art Post21, and editor of the Engage Journal (the international journal of visual art participation and engagement).


In the School of Arts and Creative Industries, Sarah co-leads MA Curating (Curator Apprenticeship and Advanced Practice routes) and MSc Art Psychotherapy (Arts Therapist Apprenticeship), both the first and only programmes of their kind currently. Sarah supervises multiple PhD students and is currently creating a Professional Doctorate in Curating with regular collaborator Dr Paul Stewart.   


Summary of Research Interests

  • relational curatorial strategies
  • interdisciplinary and collaborative practice 
  • creative social action and inclusion
  • artist moving image


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