Jo Spicer


Subject Leader
Senior Lecturer
t: ​02920 415578




Specialist Subject Areas

Illustration, Drawing and Play


MA Distinction Manchester Metropolitan University
BA (hons) Illustration Stockport College
PGCE Bolton Institute


Joanna is the current Level 4 Subject Leader and encourages students to play and explore as an integral part of locating their own personal visual language. With a background in commercial illustration for editorial, book jackets and advertising, Joanna turned her practice around after undertaking an MA in Illustration at MMU.

The initial starting point was simply to ‘draw dance’, an idea which evolved through childhood memories of dreaming of being a ballerina. Looking at traditional and contemporary dance, she made connections between drawing, the body and dance and attempted to convey movement and document ‘traces of dance’. Her working method began to transform from being formulaic and tight, as it had been, to more fluid and unpredictable. She began drawing ‘off the page’ and using more tangible and tactile materials. Her perception of ‘what’ drawing was or could be shifted. The discovered that I ‘meaning’ could be created through drawing and creative writing has uncovered a very personal narrative thread throughout.

This culminated in her drawings and poems, being used as a stimulus for Year 10, GCSE dance students at Fallibroome Academy in Macclesfield. The dancers become the drivers to ‘illustrate’ her work, and transformed its’ meaning to become their personal interpretations. Joanna understand from her own experience that in order to learn you have to trust yourself, allow yourself to be vulnerable, ready to collaborate and open to the unexpected.

Current research

Her work was recently shown as part of ‘Lullabies in Lockdown’ exhibition at Sunny Bank Mills Gallery in Leeds, which gathered together stories of motherhood during the pandemic through drawings, prints and comics, other artists included Pia Bramley, Nele Anders, Isabel Greenberg and Matthew Hodson.​

Principal Publications, Exhibitions and Awards

Varoom Magazine (2021), Illustration & London Interview and featured work in the annual issue.

Twins Trust Magazine (2021) ‘Multiple Matters’ Summer Edition. Interview and featured work in the quarterly issue.

Visceral Realism Issue 1 - A Visceral Response to the ballet ‘Tree of Codes’, Manchester International Festival, July 2015. - February 2017

Interview for Contemporary Manchester magazine publishing creative writing, art, criticism and all things literary.

Wigan, M (2009) Basics Illustration: Global Contexts. Ava Publishing.An image was used to illustrate an aspect of this book.

A.O.I Images 29 Two images were selected to feature in the Association Of Illustrators Annual and also featured in the travelling exhibition in London.


En​semble – Staff Show, Stockport War Memorial Art Gallery, September 2017

Images & Archives - Manchester Metropolitan University, October 2015. As part of a group show, in response to a selected item from the Special Collections archive

Ill-us-tra-shun –Stockport Art Gallery – September 2004 Three images of mine included in an exhibition to celebrate the breadth practitioners involved in the Illustration Course at the college alongside work by Ian Pollock, Chris Corr, Ian Whadcock, Ian Murray and Mario Minichiello.

An exhibition of work by a variety of illustrators about their experiences of having babies during lockdown.

MA Show – Manchester Metropolitan University, October 2016.

Online Portfolio: mashow/joanna-spicer

The Ken Stradling Collection – Drawings of objects from the collection, ‘The Makers of Tomorrow’ June 2019

The Ken Stradling Collection – Drawings exhibited as part of ‘The Art of Play’, June 2023




Visual Languages, In Contexts, Collaborate and Concept.