Miscellanea Encyclopaedia

Cosin's Library, Durham University
A creative artists-in-residency project discovering, sharing, and celebrating four centuries of un(der)told stories for Bishop Cosin’s Library. 

Image of a book case in Cosin's Library

Book case in Cosin's Library

Book case in Cosin's Library

Artwork created by student in workshop with Sofia Barton. Image of a face drawn by a child. The face is brightly coloured, with one eye that has the word artist written above it.

Artwork created by student in workshop with Sofia Barton

Artwork created by student in workshop with Sofia Barton

Welcome to Durham University's Cosin's Library artists-in-residence project.

Photo of Bishop Cosin's coat of arms above the front entrance to Cosin's Library

Bishop Cosin's coat of arms above the front entrance to Cosin's Library

Bishop Cosin's coat of arms above the front entrance to Cosin's Library

Over the past year our resident artists have been busy engaging with the public and creating new collaborative artworks.


What is the Cosin's Library Project?

Durham University's Cosin’s Library is one of the earliest public libraries in the North East of England. Hidden in the heart of Durham, the library was founded in 1669 by Bishop John Cosin to give local people access to ‘good books’. Over the last few years, the library has been closed for conservation work, but it is about to reopen. With funding from Arts Council England, we want to make sure that the library and its collections are more accessible and enjoyable than ever before. 

Photo of the inside of Cosin's Library, a room filled with book cases, and a wooden chair

Inside Cosin's Library

Inside Cosin's Library

Meet the Artists

Artwork by Sofia Barton, showing round portraits of Bishop Cosin in four brightly coloured boxes

Credit: Sofia Barton

Credit: Sofia Barton


Sofia Barton and Lady Kitt are Cosin's Library artists-in-residence. Although nationally and internationally renowned, both are based in the North East of England.

Sofia and Kitt share a curiosity about how art can be used to build communities and enhance understanding.

Keep scrolling to read our artists own introductions, hear about their work for the Cosin's Library programme and find out about other projects they are working on.


Join Alix Collingwood-Swinburn, Curator of Contemporary Art at Durham University, as she chats to Sofia Barton and Lady Kitt about their residency.

Hello, I'm Sofia!

I am a multidisciplinary artist from Newcastle-upon-Tyne. I love creating bright artwork which is heavily influenced by nature and heritage. My work consists of 2D painting, designing sculptures for Wild in Art as well as digital content. 

A huge portion of my work is inspired by matchboxes and vintage packaging. I love re-designing these to the background and context of places, merging the traditional with contemporary imagery. 

This rich influx of diverse cultures with retro postcards, railway posters and Victorian matchbooks portrays a careful study more reflective of a modern society.

Credit Sofia Barton, Just Keep Writing. ID: Just keep Writing: A Victorian matchbox in regal red, light blue and cold with a calligraphy pen. Writing reads ‘just keep writing’ to promote expressionism and writing 

Credit Sofia Barton, Just Keep Writing. ID: Just keep Writing: A Victorian matchbox in regal red, light blue and cold with a calligraphy pen. Writing reads ‘just keep writing’ to promote expressionism and writing 

Credit Sofia Barton, Just Keep Writing. ID: Just keep Writing: A Victorian matchbox in regal red, light blue and cold with a calligraphy pen. Writing reads ‘just keep writing’ to promote expressionism and writing 

Credit: Sofia Barton, Sarah Parker Remond. Sarah Parker Remond : An Important figure in history. She was an American lecturer, activist and abolitionist campaigner. International activist for human rights and women's suffrage. She visited England to gather support on a 3 week journey by boat. Image shows portrait of Sarah Parker Remond in luxurious reds, purples blues and gold. 

Credit: Sofia Barton, Sarah Parker Remond. Sarah Parker Remond : An Important figure in history. She was an American lecturer, activist and abolitionist campaigner. International activist for human rights and women's suffrage. She visited England to gather support on a 3 week journey by boat. Image shows portrait of Sarah Parker Remond in luxurious reds, purples blues and gold. 

Credit: Sofia Barton, Sarah Parker Remond. Sarah Parker Remond : An Important figure in history. She was an American lecturer, activist and abolitionist campaigner. International activist for human rights and women's suffrage. She visited England to gather support on a 3 week journey by boat. Image shows portrait of Sarah Parker Remond in luxurious reds, purples blues and gold. 

Some projects I’ve worked on recently are: 

  • GemArts ‘Narivad’ (Feminism in Sanskrit): A talk and online exhibition of artwork for the Masala Festival, around female minority suffragettes in the early 1900s.
  • Delivering workshops to reduce isolation and increase community wellbeing. Maintaining and creating connections and in groups to aid mental health. East Durham Creates ArtHit: Creating a fun workshop video around how to make and share your own doodles on postcards.
  • GemArts Hyem Programme: Delivering 8 weeks of workshops around diverse narratives of hope, kindness and home. 
  • Baltic Centre of Contemporary Art: Making a fun art trail map for Baltic Family Days.
  • Navigator North: Celebrating Hidden Middlesbrough. Street Art Matchbox installations to celebrate heritage.
  • Wild in Art: Designing two imp sculptures for the Lincoln Imp Trail celebrating the diverse history of the city.
  • Exhibitions have included:  Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, ‘Doctor Death’ (Open Submission 2021), Felton Gallery 45, ‘Selection’ (2020-2021), Dockside Gallery, ‘Dollhouse Series’ (2020), Love of the North ‘Northern Dreams’ (2019), Spilt Milk Gallery ‘Members Show’ (2019). 

Image credit Lou Brown, 2019, "Social Works? Live" Manchester Metropolitan University  ID:  colour photograph, interior. Kitt, a white, shaven headed human sits at a table with a black table cloth. On the cloth are large, white, rounded letters reading "Social Practice Surgery". Kitt smiles wide. In both hands they hold a black clipboard with the same white text.

Image credit Lou Brown, 2019, "Social Works? Live" Manchester Metropolitan University ID:  colour photograph, interior. Kitt, a white, shaven headed human sits at a table with a black table cloth. On the cloth are large, white, rounded letters reading "Social Practice Surgery". Kitt smiles wide. In both hands they hold a balck clipboard with the same white text.

Image credit Lou Brown, 2019, "Social Works? Live" Manchester Metropolitan University ID:  colour photograph, interior. Kitt, a white, shaven headed human sits at a table with a black table cloth. On the cloth are large, white, rounded letters reading "Social Practice Surgery". Kitt smiles wide. In both hands they hold a balck clipboard with the same white text.

Some of my recent projects are: 

  • The creation of an international feminist art magazine for, and by, children https://www.smallbutfierce.org/ 
  • An interactive online exhibition about consent (“Spaces of Consent” Newcastle University and Gender Research Group in collaboration with Dr Tina Sikka 2020-21 https://www.lladykitt.com/spaces-of-consent
  • A tool kit for organisational policy development through collaborative craft (enSHRINE, 2020-21 https://www.lladykitt.com/enshrine).
  • I am a recipient of an Arts & Heritage 2021-22 “Meeting Point” award, one of nine “Constellations” artists with UP Projects & Flat Time House (London, UK) and currently working on an AHRC funded project researching the potential role of collaborative creativity in organisational policy development.
"In my experience, this socially engaged way of  working is physically, conceptually, socially, emotionally, joyfully messy. The mess is where the most fun, interesting, useful stuff happens; where people can use creativity to make connections, forge understandings and enthusiasms, solve problems, and create change. Finding ways to “tidy up”, make sense of, and value this mess is a huge part of my work. " 

Hia, I’m Lady Kitt! 

I’m a maker, researcher and Drag King based in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne. Through my practice, I advocate for...

“mess making as social glue and the idea that making a mess can be a fantastic creative and social tool”

My work is driven by an insatiable curiosity about how the stuff that gets called art can be useful. I use performance, crafting, and chatting to create events and exhibitions. I focus on the processes of working with people and am particularly interested in how making art together can support people to share knowledge and understandings. 

The work that develops through these projects can be shown in physical and digital spaces, including traditional visual art venues. I’ve recently exhibited at Atlanta Contemporary (USA, “I am Very busy indeed”, 2019) and Saatchi Gallery, London (UK, “Cash is King” 2019). As well as a bus in Newcastle (“Socially Awkward”, 2019), a garage in California (“Rulers” 2018) and a gallery on my own head (“Plenty up Top Gallery”, 2017-on). 

WORTH colour photograph, interior. Portrait of Prof Charlotte Roberts, Archaeology professor at Durham University e cut into a genuine £50 bank note. The portrait has been created by cutting a series of 89 tiny heart shapes from the note. Next to the bank note is a small glass vial with a cork top. In the vial are the 89 cut-out hearts. The note and vial have been mounted onto black card.

Lady Kitt, 89 Ways You Are Worth More To Me Like This (2018), Durham University Art Collection - WORTH colour photograph, interior. Portrait of Prof Charlotte Roberts, Archaeology professor at Durham University e cut into a genuine £50 bank note. The portrait has been created by cutting a series of 89 tiny heart shapes from the note. Next to the bank note is a small glass vial with a cork top. In the vial are the 89 cut-out hearts. The note and vial have been mounted onto black card.

Lady Kitt, 89 Ways You Are Worth More To Me Like This (2018), Durham University Art Collection - WORTH colour photograph, interior. Portrait of Prof Charlotte Roberts, Archaeology professor at Durham University e cut into a genuine £50 bank note. The portrait has been created by cutting a series of 89 tiny heart shapes from the note. Next to the bank note is a small glass vial with a cork top. In the vial are the 89 cut-out hearts. The note and vial have been mounted onto black card.

Image of map of County Durham from Palace Green Library Archives and Special Collections

Credit: Durham University Library and Collection

Image of map of County Durham from Palace Green Library Archives and Special Collections

Credit: Durham University Library and Collection

Our residency aims

1. “Miscellanea Encyclopaedia: Four centuries of un(der)told stories from Bishop Cosin’s Library”

Exploring ideas about what a library is, has been and can be in our imagined futures.

2. Local stories (historic & contemporary)

Telling the stories that have been previously unexplored or untold about Durham and its residents, creating a 'historic library for the 21st century'.


3. Civic Centres to Past, Present and Future

What do the stories a library holds tell us about who is invited and welcomed into a space? Investigations into parallels between ableism, sexism, classism and racism of the 1600s and now. Highlighting our belief that these are directly at odds with imagining and developing 'Civic Centres to past, present and future'.

What's been happening so far

Photo of Bishop Cosin's coat of arms above the front entrance to Cosin's Library

Bishop Cosin's coat of arms above the front entrance to Cosin's Library

Bishop Cosin's coat of arms above the front entrance to Cosin's Library

Using art to discover, share and explore, Kitt and Sofia have been working alongside local community groups, schools and creatives.

New Branspeth Revellers Marching Jazz Band

    Image Credit: New Brancepeth Revellers ID: Black and white photograph, exterior. 10 white young people dressed in military inspired marching band uniforms with heavy brocade detailing on the front. 9 stand, of those 7 hold drums and two hold large cymbals. Seated on the grass in front of them is the smallest young person, in front of them are a variety of trophy cups. All are smiling.

    Image Credit: New Brancepeth Revellers ID: Black and white photograph, exterior. 10 white young people dressed in military inspired marching band uniforms with heavy brocade detailing on the front. 9 stand, of those 7 hold drums and two hold large cymbals. Seated on the grass in front of them is the smallest young person, in front of them are a variety of trophy cups. All are smiling.

    Image Credit: New Brancepeth Revellers ID: Black and white photograph, exterior. 10 white young people dressed in military inspired marching band uniforms with heavy brocade detailing on the front. 9 stand, of those 7 hold drums and two hold large cymbals. Seated on the grass in front of them is the smallest young person, in front of them are a variety of trophy cups. All are smiling.

    The New Branspeth Revellers is a marching band comprising of children aged 5 upwards and adults from New Brancepeth and the surrounding areas. Working as a co-operative, the band teaches respect and discipline, alongside how to play musical instruments.

    2020 is their 50th anniversary as a group!

    Practising weekly, they compete up and down the country, as well as organising a yearly carnival in the village of Brancepeth.


    Lady Kitt has been looking at three stories from Durham. One group Kitt has been working with is the New Branspeth Revellers Marching Jazz Band, a group that Kitt remembers from their childhood. Collaborating with the group, Kitt is facilitating the telling of their story in connection to Durham. With historic and contemporary elements, the final works will be displayed as portraits alongside two other collaborations with local people.

    "Walking in to that church hall, that village hall was just like it's a massive hug of community and family."
    In-conversation with Lady Kitt and Sofia Barton, 2021
    Image Credit:   Lady Kitt, 2021 ID: colour photograph, exterior. New Brancepeth Revellers take a break from rehearsals. Village hall car park, a number of packed cars and trees in the background, in the distance a row of small terraced houses. 12 adults, one wearing a blue face mask, stand in a close group smiling towards the camera. In the corner two children walk off towards the right of the image, deep in conversation.

    Image Credit:   Lady Kitt, 2021 ID: colour photograph, exterior. New Brancepeth Revellers take a break from rehearsals. Village hall car park, a number of packed cars and trees in the background, in the distance a row of small terraced houses. 12 adults, one wearing a blue face mask, stand in a close group smiling towards the camera. In the corner two children walk off towards the right of the image, deep in conversation.

    Image Credit:   Lady Kitt, 2021 ID: colour photograph, exterior. New Brancepeth Revellers take a break from rehearsals. Village hall car park, a number of packed cars and trees in the background, in the distance a row of small terraced houses. 12 adults, one wearing a blue face mask, stand in a close group smiling towards the camera. In the corner two children walk off towards the right of the image, deep in conversation.

    Image Credit:   Lady Kitt, 2021   ID: colour photograph, exterior. Close up of 5 pairs of feet in various footwear including trainers and sandals next to two piles of giant jazz band / cheerleading, hand held pom poms. One pile is white, the other bright blue and orange.

    Image Credit:   Lady Kitt, 2021   ID: colour photograph, exterior. Close up of 5 pairs of feet in various footwear including trainers and sandals next to two piles of giant jazz band / cheerleading, hand held pom poms. One pile is white, the other bright blue and orange.

    Image Credit:   Lady Kitt, 2021   ID: colour photograph, exterior. Close up of 5 pairs of feet in various footwear including trainers and sandals next to two piles of giant jazz band / cheerleading, hand held pom poms. One pile is white, the other bright blue and orange.

    Create a Portrait with Sofia Barton

    Sofia has been working with school groups exploring portraiture as a device for story telling. Working remotely, Sofia has created a series of digital resources to be used in school.

    Credit: Sofia Barton. Who would you pick? A guide to starts in portraiture 

    Credit: Sofia Barton. Who would you pick? A guide to starts in portraiture 

    Credit: Sofia Barton. Who would you pick? A guide to starts in portraiture 


      Get a sneak peak at what Sofia has been up to in the gallery below.

      "It made all of us really happy and beam with pride because all of these children had reacted to this kind of call out for artwork."
      In-conversation with Lady Kitt and Sofia Barton, 2021

      The works have been made by children and co-artists from Yohden Primary School, Ribbon Academy, Hunwick Primary and Esh Church of England.

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      What's Next?

      Photo of Bishop Cosin's coat of arms above the front entrance to Cosin's Library

      Bishop Cosin's coat of arms above the front entrance to Cosin's Library

      Bishop Cosin's coat of arms above the front entrance to Cosin's Library

      Image Credit:   Lady Kitt, 2021 ID: colour photograph, interior. Installation experiments at Kitt's studio  with their children. Room with white walls and green astroturf floor. Two white children help each other to stick a huge torn sheet of bright purple paper to one of the walls. One child is on a ladder. Most of the white walls are covered in purple paper. At various points from the paper bursts/ grows paper objects, including 100s of orange carnation shaped flowers and two large, bright pink jazz band / cheerleading, hand held pom poms. 

      Image Credit:   Lady Kitt, 2021 ID: colour photograph, interior. Installation experiments at Kitt's studio  with their children. Room with white walls and green astroturf floor. Two white children help each other to stick a huge torn sheet of bright purple paper to one of the walls. One child is on a ladder. Most of the white walls are covered in purple paper. At various points from the paper bursts/ grows paper objects, including 100s of orange carnation shaped flowers and two large, bright pink jazz band / cheerleading, hand held pom poms. 

      Image Credit:   Lady Kitt, 2021 ID: colour photograph, interior. Installation experiments at Kitt's studio  with their children. Room with white walls and green astroturf floor. Two white children help each other to stick a huge torn sheet of bright purple paper to one of the walls. One child is on a ladder. Most of the white walls are covered in purple paper. At various points from the paper bursts/ grows paper objects, including 100s of orange carnation shaped flowers and two large, bright pink jazz band / cheerleading, hand held pom poms. 

      In early 2022, to coincide with the re-opening of Cosin’s library, an exhibition of the physical and digital art that has been made is being planned. 

      Some of these artworks have been made by Sofia and Lady Kitt, inspired by the people they have worked alongside and the stories they have discovered , while others have been made by participants and co-collaborators in the project. 

      Some of the stories explored are contemporary, some are hundreds of years old. Some are told by people who have lived in Durham their whole lives, some are by or about people from all over the world, including Poland and Zimbabwe.

      To launch this final stage of the project, a community event is being planned. Open to all, it will celebrate Bishop Cosin's Library as an open, inclusive space for everyone.

      Close up of white wooden door with gold writing on, which reads: Bishop Cosin's Library

      Door to Bishop Cosin's Library

      Door to Bishop Cosin's Library

      Image Credit:   Lady Kitt, 2021 Image description: colour photo, interior. Installation experiments at Kitt's studio. A5 ish sized novel lays open on a large (2 meter wide, 1 meter high) “wave” of pink paper. the book is lit from above with a beam of bright white light throwing shadows over the pink wave  

      Image Credit:   Lady Kitt, 2021 Image description: colour photo, interior. Installation experiments at Kitt's studio. A5 ish sized novel lays open on a large (2 meter wide, 1 meter high) “wave” of pink paper. the book is lit from above with a beam of bright white light throwing shadows over the pink wave  

      Image Credit:   Lady Kitt, 2021 Image description: colour photo, interior. Installation experiments at Kitt's studio. A5 ish sized novel lays open on a large (2 meter wide, 1 meter high) “wave” of pink paper. the book is lit from above with a beam of bright white light throwing shadows over the pink wave  


      Thank You!

      Image of a book case in Cosin's Library

      Book case in Cosin's Library

      Book case in Cosin's Library