Workshop Training with MIMA, Tees Valley Nature Partnership, Borderlands & Teeside University

On Friday I went to Middlesbrough for an exciting workshop based around the conservation of nature. I spent a training day at MIMA where we explored ‘The Council of Beings’, a drama and arts led workshop to make individuals think about their impact on the environment as humans.

Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art, part of Teesside University, is moving forward with the civic of reconnecting art with its social function and promote art as a tool for changing the world around them as a ‘useful’ museum.

It was interesting to see the workshop constructed in this manner, helping participants view perceptions from nature. An eye opening experience too with so many types of arts practitioners with different backgrounds.

Looking forward to seeing how this pilot develops and which areas/ groups would be connected.

Art Matters Now – Home Away From Home

I was commissioned by Art Matters Now to create artwork around the theme of migration. I explored the many ways of transport immigrants can take, the landmarks of Sunderland and the hopes and dreams people have. Adding the flower of the area in blooming across hands reaching out for one another.

Reflected on my own history as a child constantly translating, dealing with racism and finding my own way to communicate through art.

You can read the description of the artwork below from https://artmattersnow.org.uk/home-away-from-home/

‘The idea for the ‘Home Away from Home’ publication project emerged from my experiences navigating a new identity as an immigrant in the UK. They were formed against a backdrop of a global pandemic: worsening xenophobia, little real-life contact and the further marginalisation of minoritised people. In these testing and precarious times, I am eager to create a collaborative platform for artists and writers from a minority ethnic or diasporic background—like myself—to connect with each other and communicate through creative expression. I hope that this can be a place where we can define the terms in which we wish to be seen and heard.

I was fortunate to be awarded Sunderland Culture’s 2021 Creative Development Fellowship, which enabled me to commission work from artists and writers as part of this publication. The project has evolved over time and now manifests in two forms: a physical publication and a digital VR exhibition that both presents and extends the ideas through multimedia works.

The first edition of ‘Home Away from Home’ looks into the fluid notion of ‘home’ and narratives surrounding it—from frustrations to contentment, shared vulnerabilities to collective hopes. The publication brings together artworks and texts by five contributors who have made Britain their home. These individuals are Claudia Obag, Dovile Lapinskaite, Marga RH, Sofia Barton and myself.
Readers are invited to reflect on how the ideas raised might relate to their own experiences of belonging and their sense of home. Is ‘home’ defined by a location? Or is it defined by people? Is having a home a right? Or is it a privilege?

— Christie Chan’

Unite – Sofia Barton

New Matchbook Series

I’ve always wanted to draw a matchbook in contrast to the matchboxes I do. This design was the first to pop out of my head as it were. The shy bairns get nowt print was quite popular lately so I’ve used the saying again, this time adding a LIT match and of course the Geordie icon – the magpie sitting right next to it.

To buy this print see my Etsy shop https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/SofiaBartonArt or to commission a design get in touch via the contact form.

Holly & Co Ad Break with Royal Mail Business

Super excited to be the winner of the independent ad break on the Holly & Co podcast sponsored by Royal Mail Business.
You can listen to this weeks Conversations of Inspiration with Holly Tucker podcast with Sir John Timpson by going to the link here with Holly & Co

Passion, pain and perseverance: the highest highs and the lowest lows. Hear the powerfully honest conversations and life lessons of those brave enough to make the break and do what they love. As well as gaining hard won wisdom from the nation’s favourite founders, creatives and entrepreneurs, you’ll also discover the most incredible stories behind the UK’s best loved brands — from Innocent and Boden, to The Body Coach and The Mobo Awards.
Since launching notonthehighstreet in 2006, and then Holly & Co in 2017, Holly Tucker MBE has dedicated her life to empowering small businesses and bringing colour to grey. So each episode is filled with a kaleidoscope of fascinating experiences, delivered with wit and warmth.


I loved sharing my story, and recommend listening to the podcast for some positivity and boosts of motivation.

Autumn Vibes



I created a couple of different vibes for one of the most popular prints on my Etsy Shop. The very first matchbox design I did for Newcastle upon Tyne. The first special edition was the Pumpkin Spice just for October (Brought back by the power of popular demand) and the second is the Cranberry. Both are heavily influenced by the colour palettes of nature and the seasonal changes.

See more on: https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/SofiaBartonArt

Durham University Art School Prize 2020/2021 Heroism

I recently did a talk for Durham University’s Summer in the City Festival Art Prize Art School event talking about the minority suffragettes in British History who helped pave the way to women being able to vote. It was a great few weeks seeing all the different talks and discussing what heroism means to so many people. Super excited about being a judge for the Durham University’s Art School Prize for 2020/2021 too!

The talks (including the one for Minority Suffragettes), workshops & activities can be found here: https://sitcfestival.org/art-prize-art-school/



Fishy on a Dishy

Following the nursery rhyme Dance to your Daddy, sometimes known as “When the Boat Comes In” is a nursery rhyme first published in 1849 in “Songs of the bards of the Tyne” by Joseph Robson. It became popular again in the 1970s when a modern version of the song was used as the theme song for the BBC serial “When The Boat Comes In”, so much that nowadays most people know the modern lyrics of the song.

This is where the inspiration came for this folk song on a fish tin !

BALTIC Open Submission: Exhibition Update

Many thanks the BALTIC and Emily Holmes for these images. As you can see the gallery is being set up for the re-opening of the BALTIC. This will be on 6th January 2021 in the light of ongoing regional and national restrictions. It seems a long wait until next year, but certainly gives us all something to look forward to. Tickets will be available to book online, ensuring your safe visit to the BALTIC.

My painting, amongst many other very talented creatives in the North East will be available to view up close in this extraordinary exhibition. Watch this space!

Baltic 39

Excited to be a part of the Open Call at Baltic 39 in Newcastle and be exhibiting a painting called Death XIII. This was a continuation of work after my co-investigator role at the Newbridge Project. The canvas is 30cm x 30cm, a background diagonally divided into blood red and black, holds a two toned (divided) circle in the centre. In a halo of gold, a plague doctor stares out to the side of the painting. Two sacred hearts, one a watchful eye symbolises the passivism of the media and public. The second sacred heart symbolises action and survival. The figure in the centre is a personal response to Covid-19, how hopeless it feels, and an echo of the earlier history we were taught about Spanish Flu. There are many parallels of what happened in history that are similar to present day. The title ‘Death XIII’ relates to the tarot card, as Death is one of the major arcana and holds a tremendous amount of symbolism, of great change.

This painting will be for sale, and be going on exhibit November 2020 – January 2020. Catch a sneak peak below !

Co-Investigating for the Newbridge Project

Recently I was commissioned by the Newbridge Project to explore the effects of the pandemic and the lockdown.

It raised questions of economic depravity, depression, mental health, capacity for adaptation, and resistance to hardship. Responses were collected via conversations between friends, family and wider communities. These collated findings in a visual study of multiple conversations spanning 4 languages, 40 participants, survey monkey questionnaires with anonymous responses across Newcastle upon Tyne.


Whilst my first response was from the perspective of a documentary photographer (see past projects) I quickly came to realise the responses I wanted weren’t from simply observation on the streets, it was more emotive and through conversations with people. Varied groups of people created a diverse collective of data that I read through, and created illustrations from. I recorded these all in one moleskin sketchbook.

I wanted to explore the differences in each response, but what I found was they were more similar than anticipated. Family was the most important factor to all of the respondents, and though their lives had been impacted negatively by the corona virus one way or another – the outlook was very resilient.

What was interesting about the study was being able to see what my fellow other 8 investigators were doing. This difference in approach, creating and making has really made this approach unique by the Newbridge Project. More to follow on these soon 🙂

Here is the YouTube video showing the illustrations: https://youtu.be/Oi6P3m2tYMs

Dr.Death. Illustration by Sofia Barton (c)


The Newbridge Project:
Website: https://thenewbridgeproject.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thenewbridge…
Twitter: https://twitter.com/N_B_Project