Dr Jenna Ashton

Lecturer in Heritage Studies

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email: Jenna.Ashton@manchester.ac.uk 

I write, curate, perform, and make ...

Dr Jenna C. Ashton is an artist and curator, and Lecturer and Programme Director of MA in Heritage Studies, with 15 years’ experience as a curator, arts manager, museums educator, and social practice artist. She has a PhD in Art History and Visual Studies from the University of Manchester on contemporary art, memory and childhood. Jenna works extensively with various groups and individuals, and has developed productive partnerships with external organisations on key themes of social and ecological justice, and feminist creative practice as research and pedagogy. In 2017, Jenna was awarded an internationally competitive visiting Global Cultural Fellowship with the Institute for International Cultural Relations, Edinburgh University, working with thirty global curators, artists and policy makers exploring the value of cultural exchange for addressing issues of human rights. She holds a number of advisory and trustee roles in the UK and internationally. She is the founder and Creative Director of the arts and heritage organisation Digital Women’s Archive North (DWAN), and in 2019, in collaboration with women artists, she co-founded CIWA, the Centre for International Women Artists, a collective artist studio and gallery in Manchester, UK.

She is currently leading the project, "Community Climate Resilience through Folk Pageantry", funded by the AHRC and Met Office, and part of the UK Climate Resilience Programme (2020-2022).

Jenna teaches across critical heritage studies theory and practice, heritage policy and management, natural heritage, intangible cultural heritage, heritage and conflict, art curation, and museums studies and practice.

Trustee, Advisory and Consultant Appointments & Directorships

  • Co-Founder and Co-Director, Centre for International Women Artists (CIWA), UK (2019 -)
  • Advisor, Kosovo Heritage and Creative Industries, Bogujevci Family Foundation, Kosovo, (2019 -)
  • Advisor, North Regional Advisory Board, National Trust, (2018 -)
  • Research Consultant, National Trust, National Public Programming, (2017-)
  • Trustee Treasurer, Delia Derbyshire Day charity, an arts commissioning and education programme celebrating the archive and work of electronic musician Delia Derbyshire, (2015 -)
  • Project Committee, "Transitions & Mobilities: Girls growing up in Britain 1954 - 76, PI Prof Penny Tinkler, Sociology, UoM, ESRC, (2017 - 2020)
  • Trustee and Chair for Public Engagement and Arts Programming, Victoria Baths Trust, (2015 - 2017)
  • Founder and Creative Director, Digital Women's Archive North CIC, (2015 -)

Memberships of Academic and Professional Bodies:

  • Association of Critical Heritage Studies (International)
  • The International Committee for the Conservation of Industrial Heritage - TICCIH (International)
  • Valuing Nature Network (NERC)
  • Arts and the Artist in Landscape and Environmental Research Today Network (AHRC)
  • Manchester Urban Institute (UoM)
  • Green Research in Education Group (UoM)
  • Race, Roots, & Resistance (UoM)
  • Manchester Environment Education Network (Regional)

Areas of research include:

Marginalised cultural heritage and arts practices

Spatial practice and creative geographies

Art under conflict and creative resistance

Creative reuse of industrial sites

Arts and craft of industry

Local memory and industrial heritage

Curatorial activism

Ethics of care

Affect and heritage

Making, play, storytelling

Material archive/ object cultures

Arts methods

Creative Ethnography




  • PI: Partnership Development in Kosovo: “Empowering victims of war through art and culture: developing a museum of war, peace and memory in Kosovo”, GCRF - HEFCE Partnership Development Pump Priming, 2019-20, £25,990.


  • Co-I: “Creative Methods for Representing Lived Experiences across Audiology, Deaf Education and Speech Therapy”, combined across Social Responsibility Fund, UoM, Wellcome ISSF, UoM, Ewing Foundation, Starkey Hearing Technologies, SEEChange Social Entrepreneurship Do It Award UMIP, UnLtd, HEFCE, Centre for Higher Education Research, Innovation, and Learning (CHERIL), UoM, 2015-19, £61,950.


  • Co-I: Project: “Green Infrastructure and the Health and Wellbeing Influences on an Ageing Population (GHIA)”, NERC/AHRC/ESRC Valuing Nature Fund: ref NE/N013530/1, funded value £726,905. https://ghia.org.uk/


  • PI: National Trust Commissions: “Women & Power” / “People’s Landscapes”, National Trust, 2017- 18, £15,000.


  • PI: “The Travelling Heritage Bureau of Displaced, International Women Artists”, Heritage Fund, Aug 2017 – Jan 2019, £48,200. https://jcashton.com/thb


  • PI: “Feminism in Heritage Discourse,” combined across Arts Council England, Ida Carroll Trust, Heritage Fund, HEFCE UnLtd, Wellcome ISSF, Digital Humanities Fund (UoM), £24,700.


Other research outputs: 


  • Lindley, SJ, Ashton, J et al (Jan 2020), Nature and Ageing Well in Towns and Cities: Why the natural environment matters for healthy ageing, Available at http://www.ghia.org.uk
  • Ashton, J (Jan 2020), “Consultation Report Development of a museum of memory, peace and human rights in Kosova”, for the Bogujevci Family Foundation, Kosova.
  • Ashton, J (Sept 2019), “Women and Power 2018: Research Report”, for the National Trust.

Audio-visual media (Film, Exhibitions, Installations, Performance)

  • Co-Director and Producer, “Still I Rise”, Filmmaker and Director, Angelica Cabezas Pino (2019)
  • Co-Curator & Artist, “The House of Opposites”, Dean Clough Mills (Feb - April 2020).
  • Curator, “Deaf Education & Audiology: a journey through artefacts, archives and creativity”, Manchester Central Library (14 Oct - 14 Dec 2019).
  • Curator, “Who Cares? Urban Nature” residency & exhibition, Manchester Museum (Mar 2019 - Jan 2020).
  • Curator, “The Mothers of Tiananmen: 30th Anniversary of Tiananmen Massacre 1989-2019”, CIWA Gallery (5 June - 31 Sept 2019).
  • Curator, “The Travelling Heritage Bureau”, HOME Mcr (Refugee Week, June 2018).
  • Curator & Producer, “Still I Rise”, Manchester Art Gallery (JFI, October 2018).
  • Curator, “A Room of One’s Own”, Zellij Arts (Aug 2017 - Sept 2018).
  • Co-Producer & Co-Curator, “Thread Bearing Witness”, Whitworth Art Gallery (Sept 2018 - April 2019).
  • Curator, “Hearing Loss and Social Isolation in South Asian Communities”, Levenshulme Inspire Community Gallery (Dec 2016 - Feb 2017).
  • Curator, “Telling Tales: speech communication disorders”, Manchester Central Library (Oct - Nov 2015).
  • Artist, “In Memory of Chroma”, multi-sensory performance with Dr Frank Mair, Manchester Science Festival (26 Oct 2013) & “Dark Matters” exhibition, Whitworth Art Gallery (19 Nov 2011).


Selected Talks and Presentations:

  • Kumu Art Museum, Estonia. Invited Keynote, conference, Women Artists 
in Baltic and Nordic Museums, March 2020.
  • University of Manchester. Co-Investigator Keynote, Nature and Ageing Well in Towns and Cities (final research project event for GHIA: https://ghia.org.uk/), Jan 2020.
  • Leibniz University of Hannover, Germany. Invited presenter and workshop participant, Developing Cultural Heritage Practices and Collaborations: Manchester & Hannover, Oct 2019.
  • Newcastle University, Contemporary Art in the Heritage Experience Conference, invited paper on artists as heritage-makers in post-war Kosovo, 29 & 30 July 2019.
  • Kosovo National Library, invited keynote, symposium, Kosovo, 20 years on, 29 March 2019.
  • Oxford University and the National Trust Women and Power conference, invited presentation on behalf of NT on Methods of Unlocking Resonance and Relevance through National Creative Programming, 7 March 2019.
  • National Archives & RLUK national conference DCDC18: Memory and Transformation, invited paper on the Travelling Heritage Bureau: addressing displacement and memory, 21 Nov 2018
  • Valuing Nature Network (NERC) annual conference, invited paper on Participatory Arts and Creative Archiving for Valuing Urban Nature, 14 Nov 2018
  • NWCDTP conference on Digital Humanities, Human Technologies, invited keynote on Digital Heritage, 11 Oct 2018
  • British Society of Gerontology conference 2018, Averil Osborn Symposium, invited paper on participatory research practices, 6 July 2018
  • Feminism and Museums Live! at Wonder Women Festival, invited keynote on book publication, People’s History Museum, 24 March 2018



visual culture, arts, feminism, museums, heritage, human rights, memory studies, conflict, archives, childhood, home, collecting, storytelling, affect, emotion, place, space, activism, migration, diaspora, craft


Related information


Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Research output: Book/ReportBook

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

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