Meet Our Members: Kate Sully

SCG member Kate Sully talks to us about her work, from Sheffield to Australia

Who are you and what do you do? 
I am Kate Sully mixed media artist based in Sheffield for the last 27 years but I studied in Cardiff completing first a degree in Ceramics followed by an MA in Fine art and returned here after my children were born. My art career is varied and is sill developing into new areas and possibilities as my practice often reflects the world around us as I am fascinated by what is hidden particularly from a science perspective. I balance my time between my studio practice and as a freelance artist working in education and community settings as both lead artist but also creative producer and project manager on all kinds of projects. 

I specialise in developing bespoke creative models to engage people with a range of issues from mental health to behaviour concerns and all in between and my passion is to connect everyone to their own creativity and to ‘switch the big light’ on for themselves.

Over the last few years my main focus has been exploring ideas around bioengineering and cutting edge science in collaboration with researchers at the University of Sheffield. This collaboration allowed me access to research that inspired new work that was a conduit between science and art for public consumption. My  artistic achievements to date are the Revelation project which  showcased my partnership with the University and I exhibited across Sheffield  to involve the public in my work. 

This project was funded through the Arts council and allowed me to develop a large collection of bold and exciting pieces which extended my practice. I was commissioned through the Festival of the mind, partnering art and science to create further work around these themes. My work has been used by the university at conferences and events to demonstrate how art can be used to inspire people and engage them in both disciplines.I am now developing a new project called the Art of Disconnection and have secured a 2 month residency in Fremantle Australia funded by the Arts council to explore this area of work.

Tell us a little about your upcoming residency
My plan will involve a period of research and development in Fremantle to explore scientific research into how the brain about whether regenerative medicine can grow creativity through stem cells  and want to create new work that uses my own ideas around the art of disconnection that could completely change my way of working and challenge my practice as well as incorporating ideas from the public and to involve the different communities in this project form the UK and Fremantle, in particular socially isolated peoples of all ages and cultures. 

I want to develop a creative language that describes these feelings of disconnection and develop professional and social networks to feed this exploration. I have been offered an 8 week artist residency in Fremantle Arts centre, Australia which will immerse me in another culture and the gallery has links with indigenous artists and to discover how they feel around the theme of disconnection and to discover and experiment with was of making and expression through co production. I will have space and time to work in the studio provided and will focus my time on both networking through the new contacts via the gallery and resident artists as well as the wider community as well as a period to play and experiment and take risks in my practice.

I will be away in a different country with restricted materials and processes to create my usual work and this will be the beginning of a fantastic opportunity to be ambitious and explore new ways to capture ideas and hone my artistic practice. There will be new networks in Australia and through the science research new possibilities back in the UK to exhibit the work and develop further this idea and examine the results of my research in a social and artistic manner.

Whats the makeup of your particular practice?
My practice is mixed media using a range of materials and processes such as digitally printed images both found and created that are then painted on to and embellished with wires to create complex surfaces. I create more sculptural pieces using wood, acrylic and  steel and marry them with different fabrics and textures and develop very colourful rich artworks often large scale. Currently I am creating large collage artworks cutting up scientific imagery printed on to canvas and re assembling to make abstract pieces as I explore the brain connections and processes.

What initially got you interested in this subject area?
Through my socially engaged practice working with grass roots community I have become increasingly fascinated by the idea that we as a society have become disconnected to our own creativity and balancing my own practice with work commitments has allowed me to be on that precipice at this point in my career. Recently I have started exploring ideas around whether through regenerative medicine /research it is possible to grow creativity in  brain tissues and how people have become disconnected creatively and what that looks and feels like to them. 

I feel the need to reassess my work in so many ways and want to explore this idea in much more depth for lots of different perspectives. Collaborating with the neuroscience team at the University of Sheffield around the brain and its loss of connections through dementia has offered ideas around whether being creative can help with those declining signals and pathways and I will be using some of that research in my new explorations.

Where would you suggest people go to find out more about the subject?
I will be using social media throughout this project and posting regular updates on my ideas and work and the research ideas can be followed up through visiting SITraNs _Sheffield Institute for Translational Neuroscience. I may be doing a blog whilst in Fremantle s that information will be posted on the Sheffield guild message board.