Staff profile

Dr Jo Ray


Senior Lecturer in Design

Jo Ray University of Derby academic standing by wall


Art and Design


College of Arts, Humanities and Education





I am a Senior Lecturer in Design, and programme lead for MA/MDes Design, with an interest in the potential of design practice at the intersections of disciplines.

Teaching responsibilities

My teaching is primarily in Postgraduate Design, working with students across Graphics, Illustration, Interior and Spatial, Product, Fashion and Textiles. I lead core modules that integrate studio practice with theoretical and critical learning and co-ordinate a range of Design Labs which give students experience of varied approaches to, and contexts for, design practice. I also contribute to Undergraduate design disciplines in studio and context modules. 

Professional interests

I have a background in site responsive art practice which has led to varied professional and industry experience relating to places, and people, and I'm interested in the qualities and politics of everyday experience. As a freelance practitioner, I have worked with public realm consultants, architects, art collectives and communities, on a range of creative projects exploring the economies and ecologies of place, resulting in creative heritage interpretation, design interventions and education/participatory programmes. Notably, I was an associate artist with Grit and Pearl LLP in Newcastle and Art Gene in West Cumbria. 

I've made numerous solo commissioned interventions in 'meanwhile' spaces in cities and sites across the UK and continue to work in ways that explore lived experience and interrogate our relationship to places, institutions, and situations, and have exhibited works in the UK and internationally. 

Research interests

My research brings art-practice led methodologies to a range of contexts relating to people and the diverse ways in which we make sense of our world(s). With a focus on contingent, playful and emergent processes, spatial practice, and the sensory and affective, I have undertaken research into children's experiences of school, enthusiast clubs, self-organising communities and spaces of education.

My research includes site responsive practice, co-creative methods, lens-based works, creative ‘re-activations’ of archive materials, and exhibition making. 

My doctoral study (2020) explored how we might consider art practice led ‘re-activations’ of historical, or ‘dormant’ scale models as a form of critical practice, allowing us to reckon with our own past(s) and possible future(s). This research is available to view on Sheffield Hallam's research archive.


Recent conferences

International experience

I've undertaken creative residencies in Prague, in Copenhagen as Christianias ‘Researcher in Residence’. I also delivered a major commission for the 5x5 public art festival in Washington DC, where my work ‘Spoken For’ was part of a wider project ‘Magnificent Distance’ curated by Dr Richard Hollinshead. 

Additional interests and activities

I am neurodivergent and this informs my experience, scholarship, modes of practice, and concerns. 

I love working with people and materials in spaces of process and practice. I'm interested in the idea of the 'undercommons' and in knowledge and experiences that may be overlooked in existing hierarchies. 

Recent publications