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Meet Our Members: Kate Sully

26th May, 2020

Kate Sully has lived in Sheffield for 28 years, after studying in Cardiff and completing her BA (hons) in Ceramics and Masters in Fine Art. She has been a practising artist since 1989. Early next year, Kate will be exhibiting her new work in a solo exhibition called The Art of Disconnection at darts, Doncaster Community Arts Gallery. Here Kate shares with us her experience during a recent residency at Fremantle Arts Centre in Western Australia.

“I was awarded a Develop your Creative Practice (DYCP) grant from Arts Council England to develop new ideas at Fremantle Arts Centre in Western Australia, to explore creativity and brain patterns whilst submerged in another continent. The residency was for 8 weeks between January to the beginning of March 2020 and I was part of the international residency scheme the centre offers every year to artists to spend time making new work. It was an amazing, life-changing experience; I had the time to take risks and try new processes, which resulted in a whole new way of working. I’m continuing this new approach now I’m back in Sheffield and my practice has really come alive again. 

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My project in Fremantle explored ideas around creativity, brain patterns and art connecting us to the world and a sense of belonging. I am also collaborating with SITraN, the neuroscience research department at the University of Sheffield, and developing ideas around nurturing the brain and links between dementia and lifestyle, exploring whether creativity plays a part in our wellbeing and brain health.

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I am creating new artwork using the ideas and painting/collage techniques I began in Fremantle to produce a series of pieces for a Festival of the Mind event in September. The festival is going ahead online this year (and hopefully physically as well, depending on the coronavirus situation) so I am busy in my studio during lockdown creating this new work. I am in touch with researchers via zoom calls to discuss my ideas and work and we will present the science and art work online and through podcasts or talks in the Spiegeltent during the festival. The project is called the Brain Orchard and the idea is to develop artwork that captures the essence of science which looks at obesity affecting brain health. 

Alongside this, we are also looking at how connections in the brain become tangled and damaged as part of dementia, what role particular brain cells play in that process, how to detect these problems early, and what interventions can be found to prevent this damage. My artwork is not illustrative of the science but more a creative response and a story I am exploring using a mix of digitally printed images relating to the brain which I collage, paint and cut up to create large scale colourful pieces.”

Find out more about Kate’s residency in her interview with the Fremantle Arts Centre.