Brought up in York, her first degree was History of Art at University of Manchester followed by a qualification in Museum and Art Gallery Studies. Joanna has been a curator of many temporary exhibitions at The Bowes, including Royal Style: The Queen Mother’s Wardrobe (1992), Wedding Dresses (2003), and Fine & Fashionable – Lace from The Blackborne Collection (2006). She is married with two grown-up sons both now pursuing their own careers.
Luxe people >>
I think it would have to be Sonia Delaunay. I remember writing to her when I carried out research for my Art History thesis, citing her as a much neglected artist only portrayed in the shadow of her husband, so it’s wonderful to see her properly celebrated in her own right with a major exhibition. I saw the show in Paris and plan to see it again at Tate London, where it runs until early August.
Milliner Stephen Jones is one of the nicest people and a treat to work with. He’s worked with some of the world’s most prominent fashion houses and designers including Jean Paul Gaultier, Vivienne Westwood, Christian Dior, John Galliano and Giles Deacon. He loaned a selection of his fabulous hats for an exhibition we had at The Bowes Museum three years ago.
Luxe places >>
For a weekend > Edinburgh if I’m in the mood for a city break, or the Northumbrian coast for relaxing.
A long holiday > Italy. I love its culture, arts and architecture, plus the food never disappoints. I love Sicily too, for all the same reasons – history, landscape, food.
A treat > the South of France, particularly Villefranche and Cassis, where we’re going later in the year; it’s so chic and sophisticated. The weather is good, as is the food and the art.
Luxe relax >>
Best food > Eating fresh fish in a good restaurant overlooking the harbour in any coastal town, but especially at the above.
Best wine > Champagne
Favourite restaurant > In the winter I like Blagraves in Barnard Castle, but in the summer I love eating outside at the Ship Inn in the village square at Newton by the Sea.
Perfect weekend > Would be having family and friends at home, spending time and/or eating in the garden and then walking to a pub in Teesdale.
Downtime means > Finding time to relax in a chair in the garden while someone else did the weeding would be perfect.
Best telly > I don’t have time to watch a great deal of TV, but I do like light entertainment shows such as W1A and Frasier.
Best book > Kate Atkinson, Behind the Scenes at the Museum. We attended the same school, albeit in different years. She described York exactly as I remember it.
Best sounds > Among my favourites are Otis Redding, Stevie Winwood and Paul Weller, but I was brought up on jazz so I love Gilles Peterson’s playlist on BBC Radio 6 on Saturday afternoons.
Luxe shop >>
Best shopping city > I like Newcastle, especially Fenwick, plus I enjoy shopping in London with my sister-in-law Denise, where Folk is my favourite shop.
Favourite shop > I’m not really a ‘one-shop’ woman, although I do like Folk and Comptoir de Cotonniers. However, I’m happy in any shoe shop!
Luxe retail treat > The experience of having my own personal shopper. I was dressed by The French Salon, Fenwick, for the VIP Preview party for Yves Saint Laurent which was just fabulous.
Best buy > A beautiful dress in silk fabric from Toast; the pattern is so lovely. I don’t buy clothes online, I have to see and feel the fabric.
Luxe party >>
A memorable night out > We went to the Hoochie Coochie Club in Newcastle for my husband Nick’s birthday, where we had our own booth and personal waiter. We really enjoyed it and would love to find the time to go more often.
Perfect party > I enjoy being with young people, so it would be dancing to a good live soul band with friends and family.
Best dress: A simple navy blue dress from Folk, which can and has been worn on many different occasions.
Dinner date > Dinner with my husband Nick, my brother Paul and sister-in-law Denise is always a treat. Paul & Denise know the best places to eat both in London or France.
Your luxe thing in life >>
My family – my husband Nick, my two lovely sons who I’m so proud of, who currently live in Newcastle and Bristol. Working with the team at The Bowes Museum; it’s been so exciting to work on the Yves Saint Laurent exhibition and to see the interest it’s generated regionally, nationally and internationally.