Personal profile


I am an art historian interested in the relationship between political activism and art. Looking at challenges to art’s institutions, the role culture plays in conflict, and the politics of gender and sexuality in the art world, my research examines the politics of art’s production.

My monograph, Pain and Politics in Postwar Feminist Art: Activism in the Work of Nancy Spero (Bloomsbury, 2023) considered how emotional metaphors were used by artists as part of protests against war and patriarchy, focusing on the work of American feminist artist Nancy Spero to think through how representing pain could visualise political dissent and demand action from the viewer.  Looking at the anti-war practice of the late 1960s in the U.S. and the beginnings of the feminist art movement, I examined how Spero's practice acts as a model for representing how politics feels.

Building on this work, my project undertaken as British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow at the Courtauld Institute of Art - which I held before taking up the role at Northumbria - examined the development of the women’s liberation movement in the arts, focusing on New York to consider how artists challenged the art world through collective work, protest, and feminist institution building. This forms the basis of the book Feminist Art, New York: Collectives, Actions, Agitations (currently in progress). At Northumbria for my Vice-Chancellor’s Fellowship, I am beginning a new project entitled ‘Art in the Troubles: Community, Culture, and Conflict’ which examines the relationship between arts spaces, artists, critics and communities in late twentieth century Northern Ireland.

I have published my work in The Oxford Art Journal, The Irish University Review, Courtauld Books Online, Muße, and The Journal of British and Irish Innovative Poetry.

Research interests

Modern and contemporary art; Irish and Northern Irish practice; American art, feminist, queer and anti-racist art, history and theory; collective and collaborative practice; artistic activism; museum and gallery studies

Further Information

I also have an independent curatorial practice working with Sarah Kelleher in the partnership Pluck Projects. Our recent projects include a public programmes series for the RHA, Dublin including 'From Pride in Diversity to Standing Fast: Exhibiting Queer Culture in OutArt, 1996-2001' which focused on OutArt, a series of exhibitions which foregrounded queer practice in Ireland in the period after the decriminalisation, and 'Women, Artists and the Institution' which focused on the experience of women artists and feminist arts-activism in Ireland. We were also curators-in-residence at the Cork Midsummer Festival 2019-2022.  

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Education/Academic qualification

History of Art, PhD, Nancy Spero: Pain and Politics, 1966-1976, University College Cork

Award Date: 1 Apr 2016

History of Art, MA, Modern and Contemporary Art History, University College Cork

Award Date: 1 Sept 2010

Theatre and Performance Practice, BA (Hons), Theatre, Dartington College of Arts

Award Date: 1 Jul 2001


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