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Alix Collingwood-Swinburn BA (Hons), MA 

Curator, Contemporary Art 

Telephone: +44(0)191 3345670 



Alix is Curator of Contemporary Art, managing the University’s art collection and leading visual arts programming. She combines a specialist understanding of modern and contemporary art collections with an expertise in developing exhibitions and participatory art programmes, building partnerships with artists, communities, and organisations.  


Holding a BA (Hons) in Visual Culture from the University of Brighton and an MA in Art Museum & Gallery Studies from the University of Newcastle, Alix was previously Curator and Acting Senior Curator at the Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art (MIMA) providing curatorial expertise and knowledge for the organisation's nationally and internationally respected exhibitions and collections. Alix played a significant role in Art Fund International, a £1 million funded programme to acquire and commission artworks by international artists, specifically North and Latin American post-WW2 drawing, developing a specialist knowledge and expertise in Latin American drawing to further expand the collection.

Whilst at MIMA, Alix oversaw the development of the institution’s first collection database platform, supported a major Arts Council redevelopment transforming a storeroom into a public research space and sat on the Visual Arts Steering Network for Middlesbrough and the Tees Valley. As a socially focused art museum, a large part of her role involved using creativity to engage and support community groups, including mental health groups, homeless charities, and refugee groups; supporting the notion that creativity should be embedded into everyday learning as a tool for research, education and change.

As Curator of Contemporary Art at Durham, Alix is responsible for the management of art owned by the University - including artwork displayed within colleges and departments - utilising the collection to support and underpin research, teaching, and engagement. She leads on the development of contemporary visual arts programmes across the university and across the region, often working collaboratively with regional partners.  Working closely with estates, college and department colleagues, Alix oversees the movement, installation and display of artworks across campus, including public sculpture, and advises and supports university colleagues in aspects of art programming. Alix works closely with the University Library & Engagement Team, regional partners and arts education networks in developing community and secondary education sessions linked to the art collection.

Since joining Durham in 2016, Alix has initiated the University’s annual Student Art Prize, Art Prize Art School and student Art Socials programme as part of the Wider Student Experience Enrichment offer. She has led on the development of a city-wide arts festival and overseen its growth to into a platform showcasing visual arts across the city. The diverse programme comprises exhibitions, tours, film screenings, workshops and talks for all ages, engaging and connecting academics, students, artists and communities via the University’s collections.

Alix is also heavily involved in the development and delivery of undergraduate and postgraduate teaching and research at Durham, teaching on modules and supervising student research across visual art, visual culture and curating.  

Alix is an Arts Council Accreditation Mentor; a Non-Exec Director of Changing Relations (a C.I.C. using the arts to challenge and transform the way people think about gender stereotypes and relationship behaviours); Non-Exec Director for Pink Collar Gallery (a C.I.C supporting working-class women who work in the arts to develop their practice); a Trustee of Alington House Community Association; and sits on the Centre for Visual Arts & Culture steering group.

Research interests

  • Social/participatory art
  • Feminist creative practice
  • Artists/creatives working in and around the Northeast
  • Art Education
  • The contemporary role of the curator
  • Access to arts/collections


Selected exhibitions include:

  • 'Pushing Paper: Contemporary Drawing From 1970 to Now', 29 February 2020 - 5 September 2020, Oriental Museum. Co-curated with Isabel Seligman, Alison Cooper, Katy Freer, Andrew Parkinson.
  • 'The Good Books: an installation by Sofia Barton and Lady Kitt', 27th July - 14th Aug 2022, Cosin’s Library, Palace Green Library – Shortlisted for the Aesthetica Art Prize 2023
  • 'Norman Cornish: The Sketchbooks', 16 November 2019 – 23 February 2020, Dennyson Stoddart Gallery, Palace Green Library.
  • '#Visible Women: Revisiting Durham University’s Art Collection', Palace Green Library, June 2019.
  • 'Fay Pomerance: Redemption', 4 August – 24 September 2017, Ushaw College
  • 'Opening the Door', Oriental Museum and Bishop Auckland Town Hall; 2016
  • 'Winifred Nicholson: Liberation of Colour', 22 Oct 2016 – 12 Feb 2017, MIMA. Co-curated with Jovan Nicholson.
  • 'Centre for Social Making: Middlesbrough Collection display', 19 Feb – 31 Dec 2016
  • 'Margaret Harrison: Accumulations', 23 Oct 2015 – 24 Jan 2016, MIMA
  • 'Pia Camil, Pablo Helguera, Pedro Reyes', 5 Jun – 6 Aug 2015, MIMA. Co-Curated with Kiki Mazzucchelli.
  • 'Stephen McKenna: Perspectives of Europe 1980 – 2014', 6 Feb – 7 Jun 2015, MIMA
  • 'Chance Finds Us', 2 May – 4 Sep 2014, MIMA. Co-curated with Anne Vibeke Mou and Nick Kennedy.
  • 'Art and Optimism in 1950s Britain', 21 Feb – 29 Jun 2014, MIMA. Major survey exhibition with multiple national loan partners.
  • Juan Pablo Echeverri, '¡VAMOS!', 4 Jul – 19 Sep 2013, MIMA
  • 'Ben Nicholson: The Intimate Surface of Modernism', 22 Jul – 13 Nov 2011, MIMA

Festivals & Events

  • Draw Durham festival 2017
  • The Bailey Gallery art tours 2017, 2018, 2019
  • Art Durham festival, 2018
  • Summer in the City arts festival 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023
  • Student Art Prize, Art Prize Art School & Art Prize exhibition 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023
  • ART HUNT @ Riverwalk, 2020, 2021

Research Projects

  • Re:Imagine, Pink Collar Gallery & Las Illuministas, 2022. Feminist research collaboration seeking to challenge and change the narrative on femicide. ACE funded and supported by Durham University and University of York.
  • Framing Social Art in Collections, Lady Kitt 2021-22. ACE funded project researching how socially engaged art is acquired by, cared for and contextualised in collections. Led by Lady Kitt, in collaboration with artists Sarah Li, Sofia Barton and Dan Russell and organisations Arts & Heritage, Durham University Art Collection and Warwickshire County Records Office.
  • Working Class Women Artists, Pink Collar Gallery, 2021. ACE funded project highlighting female (under)representation within the arts and researching working class women artists in the North East, their challenges and how the industry should change to fit their needs. Supported Durham University, featuring DU collections. Pop-up exhibition throughout Riverwalk shopping centre.
  • Let’s Talk About Sex, Changing Relations, 2021. Collaborative research project with Changing Relations, Durham University, CRiVA, Northern School of Art, Bishop Auckland College to challenge harmful sexual attitudes and behaviours, and facilitate open conversation, knowledge and healthy intimate relationships via a Student Social Action Group model.


  • Collingwood-Swinburn, A, ‘Student Art Prize 2022/23’, 2023, Durham University
  • Collingwood-Swinburn, A, ‘Identity’ in Seligman, I, Pushing paper: Contemporary drawing from 1970 to now (British Museum 2020)
  • Collingwood, A, (MIMA); Dawson, Barbara (The Hugh Lane); Fraser Jenkins, D. ‘Stephen McKenna, Perspectives of Europe 1980-2014’ (MIMA)
  • Collingwood-Swinburn, A, ‘Preface in Kennedy, N, & Vibeke Mou, A, ‘Chance Finds Us’ 2014. Edited by Collingwood-Swinburn, A, Kennedy, N, & Vibeke Mou, A.


  • Clore Leadership Pulse fellow 2023/24
  • Institute for Leadership & Management level 5 2012