Dr Saskia Warren PhD


Research Fellow

School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences

Saskia Warren

Contact details

School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT


Dr Saskia Warren is a Cultural Geographer currently working on a large three year AHRC-funded project entitled Cultural Intermediation and the Creative Urban Economy. The research investigates governance, community engagement and practice-based interventions in the creative economy, with a focus on Birmingham and Manchester. It is a multi-disciplinary and cross-sectoral project that draws together the expertise of academics, policy-makers, cultural organisations, artists and community participants.


Ph.D. Cultural Geography, Department of Geography, University of Sheffield

MA Art Gallery and Museum Studies, School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies, University of Leeds

MA, English Literature and Language, University of Oxford


Dr Saskia Warren is a Cultural Geographer, who works on the intersections of social science and the arts. She has a particular interest in cultural production and consumption, with a specialism in contemporary art practices. Her Masters dissertation utilised qualitative methods to analyse the English for Speakers of Other Languages programme at the British Museum (AHRC award). In 2012, she completed a Doctorate in the Department of Geography, University of Sheffield, entitled Audiencing Artscapes: encounters between art and audience at Yorkshire Sculpture Park (AHRC award). From 2011-12 she worked as a research assistant on an exhibition and exhibition catalogue at the Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture (FADA), Kingston University, London.


Dr Saskia Warren has taught Undergraduate courses on Qualitative Methods and Urban Regeneration and has accompanied Masters-level Social and Cultural Geography fieldtrips within the UK. She leads the Human Geography teaching and assessment of the A2B outreach scheme (2013; 2014). In 2013-14, she is lecturing on Level 1 and 2 Contemporary Human Geography courses.


Birmingham Surrealist Laboratory

I am leading a project (together with Stephen Forcer, Department of Modern Languages, University of Birmingham) funded by the Communities and Culture Network+ (EPSRC). The seed research project is the first stage in a feasibility study that investigates the ways in which new digital facilities can help unlock complex issues of cultural heritage and cultural sensitivity in a diverse city. It will use multi-touch digital facilities at the Digital Humanities Hub, University of Birmingham, to test the ways in which Surrealism translates to multi-cultural community groups recruited from Balsall Heath, the locale of the Birmingham Surrealist Group (1930-1950s) and proposed site of a dedicated surrealist heritage museum.

Cultural Intermediation and the creative economy

I am currently working with Dr Phil Jones, Dr Beth Perry and Dr Paul Long, alongside a wider team, investigating processes of cultural intermediation in the creative urban economy. Funded under the AHRC Connected Communities initiative, the research is a joint project between the University of Birmingham, University of Salford, Birmingham City University, Liverpool John Moores University, City University and the University of Bristol.

Audiencing artscapes: encounters between art and audience at Yorkshire Sculpture Park

My doctoral research tailored a combination of qualitative methods – archival, visual and ethnographic - to different typologies of audiences (workers, local residents, visitors, volunteers), in an exploration of the meaning and value of art in different people’s lives. The notion of ‘audiencing’ (Fiske 1993) is appropriated to an arts context, whereby audiencing informs cultural production and consumption, and the development of art, landscape and a cultural institution. Particular contributions are made to the understanding of: the public, public art, and public space; eighteenth-century - contemporary landscape practice; consumption and audiencing.

Other activities

(2013) In conversation with artist Simon Pope, Vivid Projects, Birmingham.


(2012) Consultant on representation and democracy report, Bradford College Student Union/National Union of Students, BD7 1AY (Awarded Further Education Student Union of The Year 2013) www.nusawards.org.uk

"In February 2012 Bradford College SU embarked upon a research project to underpin our first strategic plan.  Our goal was to break the cycle of decline at the Union and build a sustainable organisation delivering for its members.  We engaged two PhD students from Sheffield University to carry out our research and produce the report."

(2012) Research Associate and assistant curator, Art, Performance & Activism in Contemporary Japan
Pumphouse, Battersea, London, 19 Jan – 26 Feb 2012.

(2012) Research Associate and assistant curator, Ernst Eisenmayer: Art Beyond Exile
Austrian Cultural Forum, London, 2 Feb – 23 March 2012; Sayle Gallery, Douglas, Isle of Man, 6 April – 10 May 2012 

(2012) Invited referee, Professor Ian Hay (April 2013) Geographies of the Super-Rich,  London, Elgar.

(2010) Curator of exhibition, Yorkshire Sculpture Park
Living Heritage of Bretton Estate, West Bretton, Wakefield, WF4 4LG

(2009) British Library Certificated for Oral History

(2008) Consultant on ESOL Programme/The British Museum
Great Russell Street, London, WC1B 3DG

(2008) Exhibition Assistant Stanley Picker Gallery
‘International Orange: Ben Kelly in Collaboration, with Graphic Thought Facility,
Michael Marriott, Morph, Peter Saville & DJ Simpson.’
Kingston University, Knights Park, Grange Road, KT1 2QJ

(2007-2008) Curator of exhibition, Henry Moore Institute
Against Nature: The hybrid forms of modern sculpture’ sister show.
The Headrow, Leeds, LS1 3AH

(2006) Publication Assistant, Public Art Agency



Forthcoming 2015 Warren, S. and Jones, P. Creative economies, creative communities: Rethinking place, policy and practice (Ashgate, London)

Peer-reviewed articles

2014 Warren, S. and Jones, P. (accepted) 'Local governance, disadvantaged communities and cultural intermediation in the creative urban economy' Environment and Planning C

2014 Perry, B. Smith, K. and Warren, S. (accepted) ‘Revealing and re-valuing cultural intermediaries in the 'real' creative city: Insights from a diary-keeping exercise’, European Journal of Cultural Studies

2014 Warren, S. (in press) ‘The new town square, the new public sphere: alternatives to neoliberalising cyberspace in India?’, ACME: An International E-Journal for Critical Geographies

2014 Warren, S. (in press) ‘“I want this place to thrive”: Volunteering, co-production, and creative labour’, Area (online early view), DOI: 10.1111/area.12112

2013 Warren, S. ‘Audiencing James Turrell’s Deershelter Skyspace: Encounters between art and audience at Yorkshire Sculpture Park’, Cultural Geographies 20, 83-102.

Book chapters

2014 Warren, S. 'Balsall Heath Biennale and Cultural Intermediation', in Rowe, L and Poolman, C. Balsall Heath Biennale 2013, 49-55.

Forthcoming 2015 Warren, S. ‘The Birmingham Surrealist Laboratory: unlocking community, religion and the avant-garde in a diverse city’ in Zebracki, M. and Palmer, J. (eds) Geographies of Urban Public Art: Spatial Mediations of Art, People and Identities (Ashgate, London)

Forthcoming 2015 Warren, S. and Jones, P. ‘Introduction’ Creative economies, creative communities: Rethinking place, policy and practice (Ashgate, London)

Forthcoming 2015 Warren, S. and Jones, P. ‘Conclusion’ Creative economies, creative communities: Rethinking place, policy and practice (Ashgate, London)

Industry and other publications

2014 Long, P. and Warren, S. ‘Researching communities and the creative economy: a
reflection’, Culture, creativity and communities: reflections on the urban economy, Cultural Intermediation Brochure, AHRC Connected Communities Festival, 7-8.

2014 Birmingham Surrealist Laboratory advert, Balsall Heathan (March)

2014 Cultural Intermediation: Balsall Heath Walking Interviews advert, Balsall Heathan (March)

2014 The Birmingham Surrealist Group in Balsall Heath: an Interview with Dr Stephen Forcer and Dr Saskia Warren, Balsall Heathan (March)

2012 Warren, S. ‘Phantasmagorical monsters in nature: Joan Miró at Yorkshire Sculpture Park’, Cassone (April)

2008 Warren, S. 'An Evaluation and Reimagining of the British Museum English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) programme’, Museums Education Monitor

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