Northern Expressions Community Open Studio

In November 2023, Scarborough Museums and Galleries and Crescent Arts invited artists to apply for Northern Expressions. A creative development programme for emerging artists who live in Yorkshire and the Humber region with no formal arts education. This programme offers the opportunity to develop their arts practice and exhibit as a group in January 2025.

We recruited 8 artists from around the North in February 2024 with the aim to empower their practice by engaging with other artists and professionals to build a creative network.

The programme is investigating ways of strengthening a visual arts community through research visits, one-to-one supported sessions, studio space to create work, financial aid and workshops focused on topics that build expertise and centre around solidarity, collaboration, community, and identifying Northern talent.

The Northern Expressions 2024/2025 artists are:

  • Alice Kin
  • David Kenney
  • Donna Flynn
  • Estar May
  • Graham Williamson
  • Jenny Sutton
  • Miriam Hemingway
  • Mouse

Artist Statement

With only a few remaining fears, Kin lives alone in alone in a woodland. Utilising foraged & found materials, her physical body and a mobile phone, she tells us stories of a place where humans and nature intersect.

Kin’s eye for the erotic, poetic, absurd and mundane, bring alive narratives of growth and decay.

Of nature, Kin says, we have more in common than that which divides us.

Image: Where I Come From, Alice Kin (2022) Digitally Manipulated Performance

Artist Statement 

David Kenney paints, makes sculpture and writes.

David uses hard-edge painting, primarily with acrylics, to explore shadow and light in architectural forms. His paintings consist of many layers, adding and removing paint using a variety of methods and tools to achieve realistic textures.

His sculptural work explores similar themes to his paintings, with recurring motifs of basic architectural forms included throughout. David uses cast and mould to create precise, geometric forms in Jesmonite, using acid to remove surface layers to produce a concrete-like texture; often using coal, rusted iron and moss to create variation.

In all of his visual work, David pays particular attention to texture, shadow and light to give the pieces a feeling of past use and interaction; surfaces worn by the passing of time and human intervention occupy seemingly timeless landscapes; liminal spaces devoid of human presence.

A constant theme of worldbuilding runs through David’s work, with every piece having a place in a drafted story set in a fictional universe. Each painting or sculpture has a written counterpart; a chapter or scene that contributes to a grander narrative.

Upcoming Exhibitions

  • Municipal – 50MV, Liverpool – 4th – 8th May 2024
  • Look if you want – The Peckham Pelican, London – 2nd – 25th May 2024
  • Ferens Open Exhibition – Ferens Art Gallery, Hull – 28th June – 22nd September 2024

Why I applied to Northern Expressions 

I grew up in a working-class family in a mining village in East Durham.
I excelled in art at school and loved drawing as a child, but a career as an artist was not something which was seen as viable, and I was steered towards a career in architecture.
In my thirties I started to explore art as a means of self-expression; trying my hand at small cast sculptures and painting – as well as attempting creative writing. I realised over the space of a few years that Art was my ‘calling’, and teaching myself techniques and learning as much about the industry as possible while making as much art as possible, has been my main focus ever since.

The Northern Expressions programme will allow me to develop the knowledge, skills, time and space that will allow me to create larger, more ambitious work. Work which can be collected together to visually communicate the narrative I have planned in my writing.
I hope to gain the confidence to explore new techniques and take risks in my practice, without fear of being able to source more materials if a risk doesn’t pay off. I will be able to embark on creating exhibitions and experiences, rather than standalone work.

Image: Hobson and Morton © David Kenney

Artist Statement

I want to tell a story or hint at a narrative without giving the plot away. I use traditional materials: oils, canvas, linen board in response to things that happen both to me and people around me. I have a library of personal imagery and motifs to play with, while I walk a line somewhere between abstraction and depiction, the real and the the imagined, control and freedom. Sometimes I pull it off, but sometimes I don’t. I try to learn from things that don’t work.

Instagram | @jennysutton99

Upcoming exhibitions


‘Eye Shadows’
Tuesday 14th May – Sunday 19th May
Fronteer Gallery, Orchard Square, Sheffield

Exhibition of painting: Jenny Sutton, Ruth Heaton and Alison Edmonds

Joining Northern Expressions

I joined Northern Expressions because I want to get better and I needed something different to be the catalyst for this: meeting other artists, having conversations, trying out different things, being challenged. My thinking, practice and view of myself as an artist is changing because of this wonderful opportunity.

Artist Statement

I’m a mixed media collage artist from North Yorkshire. I use both physical and digital collage, layers, textures, and poetry, to explore ideas of memory, energy, and identity.

I like the in-between, the liminal, and the uncanny. I am drawn to the idea of thin places, stone tapes, sliding doors – our place in time. I enjoy playing with words, and pairing them with images – static and moving, through (iphone) camera lens or surface mark making. I’m also fascinated by intimacy and connection in the digital age, how we foster relationships, see each other, project our quietest thoughts, and imagine ourselves within online spaces. In tandem, I like to explore in my work the things which anchor us, tuning in to and layering up cultural touchstones, alongside my own memories.

I picked up my paint brushes (and trusty pritt stick) in 2020 – like many who turned to art to make sense of the unusual times we found ourselves in. Built into my work, figuratively and literally as a collage artist, is an exploration of purpose. As a woman without children, my work allows me to consider notions of creativity, nurturing, and care outside of motherhood.

You can see some of my work over on my digital sketchbook (aka instagram!): @mimwahey

Why I applied for Northern Expressions 

I applied to Northern Expressions to push myself – a vote of confidence in my abilities and a challenge to take a step beyond my comfort zone. Not having had any formal arts training or a fine art degree behind me, it can feel like ‘being an artist’ is something other people do. I hope to prove to myself I can, I am, and create something extraordinary together with my fellow Northern Expressions artists. With immense gratitude to Scarborough Museums and Galleries and Crescent Arts for the time, space, and opportunity!

Artist Statement

I am a video artist whose work explores how memory, belief and folklore underpins and defines communities. I like to combine elements of drama, documentary, performance and music to create a kind of moving collage, using interviews and workshops to make a democratic, rather than didactic, finished piece. My inspirations include long walks through the suburbs, vague childhood memories and obscure old newspaper clippings. Previous work includes Where the Stone Dropped, a documentary about the communities on the former industrial peninsula of South Gare, and The Commons, a five-minute short on the unexpected connections between mushrooms, fairy myths and the internet. Political views: anarcho-Swiftie.


Why I applied for Northern Expressions

I’m looking forward to creating new work that’s both personal and informed by meeting new people with new ideas in a new place. It’s already been an adventure, and has pushed me into doing things I wouldn’t have thought of otherwise.

Image: The Commons, Graham Williamson

Come and use our community open studio space
One of the most valuable tools for an artist’s development is a space to create. This is a part of the process most audiences do not get to see. We welcome other artists to use this space, as often studio space can be challenging to find. We ask that you leave the space as you find it and share as part of our Northern Expressions Community Open Studio.

The Studio is open Monday – Friday, 9am – 5pm and Saturday, 10am – 4pm until Saturday 29 June 2024.

Northern Expressions is an ongoing project and forms part of Scarborough Museums and Galleries and Crescent Arts’ shared aim to support artists and provide opportunities to pursue a career in the visual arts. Northern Expressions seeks to build aspirations and raise the benchmark for visual arts in the North.