Changing Relations

Changing Relations C.I.C. delivers education to schools, businesses and communities, using the arts to transform the way people think about gender stereotypes and relationship behaviours. Their innovative work breaks down gender barriers, fosters healthy relationships and transforms lives.

I was honoured to be selected for a commission for their ‘Let’s Talk About Sex’ campaign and created some images after collecting thoughts from students with Durham University. These images will be distributed as a zine in the coming summer.

To find out more about Changing Relations go to https://changingrelations.co.uk/

Metro Fleet Art

Alongside three other amazing artists I have won a unique commission to create major works for the interior of the Tyne and Wear Metro’s £362m new train fleet.

Metro will be the first urban transit system in the world to feature permanent art inside trains when the new fleet enters service next year, thanks to a project led by operator Nexus and funded by Arts Council England through its National Lottery Project Grants programme.

Four artists have been chosen following an open call for submissions, and each one will go on to create a major new work to cover the full height and width of carriage end walls, right through the fleet of 46 trains being built for Metro by global train manufacturer Stadler.

Nexus is sharing a video introducing the artists and exploring more about the project which you can view here:

Nexus received more than 120 submissions from around the world, in response to an open call for artists to respond to the theme of ‘place’ in North East England. The final four artists were chosen by a panel bringing Nexus employees from train operations and the fleet project with community arts professionals from the region. 

The four works the Metro artists create will be reproduced onto the train walls by Stadler as part of the manufacturing process at its factory in St Margrethen, Switzerland.   The first new Metro train is set to arrive in North East England at the end of this year and will enter service in autumn 2023 after rigorous testing.

Nexus has ordered 46 trains from Stadler which will transform reliability and the customer experience, cut Metro’s use of high voltage power by at least 30% and allow a higher frequency service across the system.

Two works of art will appear on each train, at each end of the open-plan layout of carriages, with each work appearing 23 times across the whole fleet as a result.

I’m really looking forwards to the final design and have been researching key figures of the North East’s rich history to document on the illustration.

The commissioned artists from left to right:
Sofia Barton, Sarah Gibbeson, Hazel Oakes AKA Nocciola the Drawer, and Bryony Simcox

Be Canny Wild & Free

Delighted to have been asked to be part of Love of the Norths Exhibition in Spanish City.

I’d been noticing spring emerging and various insects emerging. After a little bit of research (and a wander down the local nature reserve ) I’d found out about various butterfly species that frequent the North East Coast. Can you spot and name them ?

Originally inspired by a design of a trio of butterflies on a vintage matchbox, these butterflies were displayed on fresh spring green leaves with a bright pink background. I’ve made this a little different to what I’ve illustrated in the past with a smaller font and a singular border. This one off A2 canvas will be available to buy during exhibition starting tomorrow 4th April 2022

Details:

https://www.fortheloveofthenorth.co.uk/

Producing Place Artist in Residence

Pleased to announce I’ll be the first Producing Place Artist in Residence for Monkfish Productions. 📣

The residency explores the area around the Victorian bandstand in Saltwell Park in the communities that live and visit there. Through community workshops, which will be open to key groups and the public.

I drew this little illustration of the bandstand after a visit last week. I used to live in Bensham (near Saltwell Park) a few years ago and was a frequent visitor. It is interesting to think about how many people pass, take shelter and sit under this bandstand. The collective stories and experiences around this landmark would be fascinating to learn about.

My idea for the bandstand is like the illustration, getting individuals and groups to draw or write about their experiences in the area and create a vine that wraps itself around the bandstand. Reflective of the wild life around it. A symbol perhaps of how people have used the park during lockdown, and how the perceptions of parks has grown more important with the need for outdoor space.

I’ll be updating the blog as I go along in the project, doing lots of workshops and of course displaying the artwork on the bandstand itself at the end.

Here is a link to Monkfish Productions CIO and information on the brilliant work they’re doing http://www.monkfishproductions.org/

Unfortunately the projects on a little break at the moment, but will resume in July 2022 with a weekend of wonderful workshops to create the beautiful creates and vines around the bandstand.

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

NE1 Christmas Window

NE1 have had a great selection of Christmas Windows across Newcastle for 2021. Delighted to have been able to design this one for Northern Pride for the occasion.

View it at Groat Market in Newcastle upon Tyne where the old Evening Chronicle buildings are located. If you take a selfie be sure to hashtag #wearenorthernpride

Merry Christmas everyone!

Photo of a selection of NE1 Christmas windows at Old Evening Chronicle Buildings, Groat Market, Newcastle upon Tyne
Close up of The Northern Pride Christmas Window designed by Sofia Barton

Many thanks to Northern Pride for commissioning me and NE1 for all the Christmas windows across the city spreading cheer 🎄🏳️‍🌈

Artist for Bay Create

Since August I’ve been lucky enough to work with Whitley Bay Big Local and Barnardos the Base in delivering workshops around the mindfulness of mandalas. After a ‘dragons den’ style interview where the participants interviewed me in June I started work on planning this participatory art project straight away.

Working with age groups from 12-90 years of age, and introducing co-creation amongst them has been a worthwhile experience. To many of the participants this was an opportunity to emerge from isolation, and the negative effects of Covid-19 on their mental health. To be able to speak to them and provide a safe environment to create was key with Whitley Bay Big Local and Barnardo’s The Base.

The variants of experience and personal stories has been profound. They all contributed to the final outcome of artwork, constructed together like their many narratives in the Whitley Bay community. This cross generational team all blossomed week after week, with different ideas and experimentation of techniques.

Dependent on what the group wanted to do we explored themes like : sustainability, recycled materials, natural inks (we looked at blackberry picking and using spices), mandala making, geometric symmetry, using leaves and flowers, stencils, Stamp making, designed post cards, used acrylics and watercolour pens in our sessions. On taking feedback from what the groups wanted I would create worksheets and bring materials in for them to explore the following session. As it was a drop in session too the groups evolved with different dynamics as time went on.

August- December flew by. At the end of the project I had four large canvases 1m by 1m ready to display at Whitley Bay Library. One solely by Marsden Bridge Middle School Art Club. Alongside the group work with Jason Eason and the documentary photos in the middle – it makes a great exhibition. On view now in Whitley Bay Library for a month 🙂

See the Matterport link for a 3D rendition: https://my.matterport.com/show/?m=AoP6iKhNciQ

Many thanks to the amazing staff involved who are so supportive :

Jason Eason was the Bay Create artist working alongside me exploring photography and collage. Helen and Sarah, who managed the project & are all around amazing human beings.

Thanks to all the amazing groups involved:

Whitley Bay Big Local

Barnardos The BASE Young People’s Center

Marden Bridge Middle School Art Club

1st Forest Hall Guides

North Tyneside Carers Centre

Unity group at the BASE

Funday Friday group at The BASE

Caitlains programme group at the BASE

4TH Monkseaton Guides

Eothen Residential care home

Eastbourne Residential care home

Whitley Bay Big Local drop-in participants

Mind map
Three mandala canvases. All shapes were made my multiple participants across the project. From left to right: constructed into mandala shape by the Barnardo’s the Base Group, Whitley Bay Big Local Group and Marsden Bridge Middle School Art Club

The project was funded by spiritof2012hq and carries on to another year with new artists in 2022.

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/