Her research interests are in nineteenth-century British landscape and genre painting, with a particular emphasis on the representation of the poor and the relationship of art to its social and political context. She has curated exhibitions at the Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, the Djanogly Art Gallery, University of Nottingham, Penlee House Gallery and Museum, Penzance, the Barber Institute of Fine Arts, University of Birmingham, the Fine Art Society, London, and the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge. With Juliet McMaster, she was co-curator of a new display at Tate Britain, James Clarke Hook and Painters of the Sea (16 December 2006 – 17 February 2008). She worked with Dr Janette Kerr, PRWA, on an exhibition, The Power of the Sea: Making Waves in British Art 1790-2014, which was held at the Royal West of England Academy, Bristol, April-July 2014, and with Stephen Jacobson and Gemma Brace on a further exhibition at the same venue: Air: Visualising the Invisible in British Art, 1760-2017 (June-September 2017). She is co-curator, with Victoria Partridge, of a new exhibtion at the Higgins Bedford: A Walk in the Woods: A Celebration of Trees in British Art, which opens on 30th September 2017.
Christiana's current research project is on the role of trees and woodland in British and American landscape painting: see http://www.christianapayne.com/blog.