Tom O'Sullivan

Tom O'Sullivan


Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

I am interested in supervising practice-based PhDs that engage with the context of contemporary art practice and theory. I have a particular interest in contemporary art practice as research and how this can translate into the academic context.

Personal profile


I am a senior lecturer at Northumbria and teach into the Fine Art programmes at both undergraduate and post-graduate levels. Currently I am the module lead for ‘Theory into Practice’ at level 5 of the BA Fine Art. . I also supervise, and am an internal examiner, for practice-based PhDs in contemporary art practice and theory at Northumbria.

 I have considerable experience as a visiting lecturer at a number of higher education institutions across the UK and Europe, as well as experience as an external examiner on Fine Art programmes at undergraduate and post-graduate levels.

 Previous to my appointment at Northumbria (20011), I was a Research Fellow at Grays School of Art at the Robert Gordon University (2003 – 2011) and a lecturer at Cumbria Institute of the Arts (1999 – 2003). 

 I am a 0.5 appointment and I also work as a professional contemporary artist.

Research interests

I have been working in a collaborative art practice with Joanne Tatham (Royal College of Art) for over 25 Years. Our practice thinks about the forms and languages of contemporary art as a way to consider how meaning is produced. The work is often a configuration of temporary, sited ‘sculpture’ together with constructed texts, performances and images. Taken together, these elements produce spaces for audience reflection on particular contexts and the meanings art might have in these places. 

Recent work has responded more explicitly to the conditions of contemporary art’s instrumentalisation in the public sphere and the possibilities for art to enable renewed civic engagement. Other recent projects have involved fiction writing as a device to re-consider and re-position art histories. 

Recent projects include The Bitter Cup, a novella produced with Book Works, London in collaboration with Hospitalfield, Arbroath (2019).

Does the iterative fit, a project for Rostockgata Sculpture Park at Kuntshall Oslo (2019), which repositioned an earlier commission for Kings Cross Projects.

A Proposal To Ask Where Does A Threshold Begin & End, a project for MIMA in Middlesbrough (2018).

A Successful Proposition for the Great North Exhibition, a commission for The Great Exhibition of the North at BALTIC (2018).

I am also involved in the collaborative practice of Neuschloss, a group of artists and curators working at Northumbria University, who are interested in experimental curatorial and collaborative art practice.

Education/Academic qualification

Fine Art, MFA

1 Sept 19921 Jul 1994

Award Date: 1 Jul 1994


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