Dr Sarah Key

Senior Lecturer

Digital, Tech, Innovation & Business

Graduating from the University of Derby in 1999 with first class honours, I consolidated my painting practice for a year at Banks’s Mill studios, before heading to London to study MA: Painting at Wimbledon School of Art, with support from the Arts and Humanities Research Council. My first teaching post in Higher Education began a year later and ran through to me taking up a full time research bursary to study for my PhD at Loughborough University in 2003. Completed in 2008, I had already moved back into teaching part time to support and inform my studio practice. Since 2008 I have been regularly exhibiting in solo and group shows, both nationally and internationally, with works held in international public and private collections.


Academic qualifications

PhD ‘Grids, Painting In A Dialogue With The Digital,’ 2008, Loughborough University

MA Fine Art: Painting, 2001, Surrey University (Wimbledon School of Art)

BA (Hons) Fine Art, First Class, 1999, University of Derby


I am a practicing artist, arts professional and academic with particular expertise in contemporary painting and related theory.

Research interests

My research is in the visual arts, specifically in contemporary painting and related theory. Work since 2008 has evolved a body of work through uses of acrylic paint, working in layers - that explores aspects of human ethical codes and modes of behaviour through uses of anthropomorphic imagery. One-person exhibitions have tailored the work through particular focal points of research, to include working from taxidermy collections, photographic images of Victorian children and colonial hunters. I am currently researching medieval imagery and ornament towards pictorial devices within painting and as an extension of my interest into questioning the very basic human ideologies relating to wealth, ownership and accepted socio-political structures. Research activities over the past decade have attracted funding from the Arts Council, the British Council and the Arts & Humanities Research Council.


Level 6 and the fine art degree show

Supervision of postgraduate research including practice led PhD supervision.

Level 4 & 5 teaching: drawing workshops, theoretical readings and tutorials.


2015: Contemporary British Abstraction, London

2013: Speaking In Tongues, Airspace, Stoke-On-Trent

2012: Creative London, Space K_Seoul/ Space K Gwangju/ Space K Gwacheon, South Korea

2012: Where I End and You Begin, Derby Museum & Art Gallery, UK

2012: Ostrale’12, Dresden, Germany

2011: Threadneedle Prize, Mall Galleries, London, UK. ISBN 978-0-9560219-4-6

2011: Mostyn Open, Oriel Mostyn Gallery, Llandudno, Wales

2010: Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, London, UK. ISBN 978-1-90571199-4

2010: Supermarket, Kulturhuset, Stockholm, Sweden

2009: Ostrale'09, Dresden, Germany

2009: Walters Attic, City Gallery Leicester, UK. ISBN 978-0-9554095-6-1

External profiles

in the UK for Quality Education

Sustainable Development Goal 4, Times Higher Education Impact Rankings 2023

for Career Prospects

Whatuni Student Choice Awards 2023

for Facilities

Whatuni Student Choice Awards 2023

for Social Inclusion

The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2023

of Research Impact is ‘Outstanding’ or ‘Very Considerable’

Research Excellence Framework 2021

of Research is “Internationally Excellent” or “World Leading”

Research Excellence Framework 2021

Four Star Rating

QS Star Ratings 2021