An ex-designer and ex-southerner currently hiding out amongst academics in Leeds.
I trained as a media theorist and practitioner in Portsmouth (BA Media Studies and Entertainment Technology, 2009, 1st Class), before starting my own Graphic Design practice in 2011. A series of personal and intellectual curiosities in creative entrepreneurship led me to postgraduate study at the University of Leeds (MA Culture, Creativity, and Entrepreneurship, 2012, Distinction), and eventually to my current Doctoral Research, also in Leeds. My current research is supported and funded by the School of Performance and Cultural Industries, University of Leeds. I've conducted creative and cultural industries related fieldwork in Bristol and the South West, right across Pakistan, and now here in Leeds.
I learned to play piano as a teenager, and through having family in the industry, found myself in a professional band in Bristol aged 17. We played countless gigs across the city, released singles and EP’s, supported notable artists, and gathered a small following in the area over the years that we were active. We rehearsed in the basement of The Louisiana; an esteemed small capacity venue just outside of the city centre. The cellar under the ‘Louie’ was a space for creative expression, musical experimentation, writing, listening, and collaborating. Touring the city, playing notable stages and grungy unknown ones, and immersing myself into entirely new worlds within the Bristol I had always lived in, is where my interests in both creative working and creative cities emerges.
To fund my way through my undergrad degree, and perhaps as a way of flexing my creative muscles a little in the post-music days, I started freelancing as a graphic designer. My client list and portfolio slowly grew, and ultimately, I was designing print materials for clients globally. From city-central coffeeshops, the comings and goings of the public, the shuffling of daily papers, and the dim hum of traffic outside, became the backdrop for innumerable hours of art working. My interest in the contexts of creative work, operating not within formal workspaces but as part of the social and cultural fabric of the city, emerges in those coffeeshops. My interests in 'scene' emerges here too, specifically the informality and sociality of connections that combine to build a cities creative scene.
Over the last couple of years, I have hiked and scrambled in almost all of the national parks in the UK. These have been immensely sensate and emotive experiences, where body and mind are jointly exposed to sight, sound, smell, and touch, in deeply immersive and personal ways, and where the cyclical emotional shifts between excitement, trepidation, exhaustion, and awe, inspire a whole host of inward reactions to the environment. My research into the relationship between walking and thinking in cities stems from harsh conditions atop mountain ridges. The mobilisation of thinking, physical exertion, and traversing of emotive terrains, has been central to my enthusiasm to try and bring mobility and on-foot thought processes into my urban research environment.
I've backpacked throughout South East Asia, road tripped across central and Eastern Europe, and stayed with friends up and down West coast USA. I've worked in Pakistan, conferenced in Belgium, and am heading to Chicago, Gothenburg, and Copenhagen later this year. I'm an active member of the Couch Surfing community, hosting backpackers from all over the World in my home, sharing travelling stories whilst introducing them to my favourite spots in Leeds. Whether floating down the Kwai in a houseboat, trying my luck in Vegas, or getting lost on mountain roads in Austria, I've always had a deep love for travel. My next big trip, which I'm hopefully going to be writing a lot about over the next year or so, will be a 20,000KM train journey from the Highlands in Scotland to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam.
I’m currently providing weekly lecturing, seminar, and study support on MA Culture, Creativity & Entrepreneurship, as well as supervising research projects. Projects I’ve supported include, amongst others: Creative city strategies in London and Milan; Cultural policy and prosperity in Scotland; Digital music streaming and cultural value; Film inspired tourism in China and the UK. Lecture and seminar topics have included, amongst others: Bourdieu and Cultural Production; Public Art and Social Inclusion; Creative Entrepreneurship; Precariousness and Sustainability in the Arts; The Creative City; and Urban Interventions and Creative Citizenship. Additionally, I also supervise fellows on the PGCert in Arts Fundraising and Philanthropy, supporting students through placements at esteemed arts venues and organisations nationally.