Tell us more about yourself and your practice; what inspires you, what medium is your favourite and how did you end up in the world of art?
I’m Cat, a collaborative artist and curator with an interest in scientific and philosophical ideas. I ended up being immersed in the world of art as a young child, I enjoyed doing dance classes and going to exhibitions, concerts and theatre shows. I think I knew that I wanted to be an artist, or identified myself as a creative person from a young age. I studied at Leeds College of Art and Manchester School of Art in Art/Design and Textiles, and it wasn’t until the final year of my degree, that I realised I was interested in working with scientific ideas, to create art that is inspired or says something about science, but without being representational. Once I left university, that’s when my practice went to the next level, as I had full control over where or when I wanted to create or exhibit my work and in which context. I felt like I had a lot more freedom to just create what I wanted to create and when I wanted to.
I’m inspired by invisible or abstract ideas about the universe, as well as fluid dynamics (studying how gases and liquids move), so this definitely inspires and influences the art that I create.
I don’t have a favourite medium, but I am (finally) learning how to build my own electronics, as learning this allows me to make my work kinetic – which is vital to my work. I believe all art should be kinetic, or to move in some way, because this references nature, where movement and sound is constantly taking place. Making electronics has enabled me to make my work kinetic, rather than relying on collaborators to make it for me.
I’m hoping to develop the bubble machines that I’ve been creating for ‘The Abyssal Glow’ and borrow high quality hydrophones to capture ‘micro sound’ of individual bubbles forming and popping, with the help from Professor Tim Leighton (a specialist in the acoustics of bubbles at the University of Southampton). As well as receiving support from other specialists and organisations, who are interested in supporting the development of this piece into an installation and possibly, a performance.
What attracted you to exploring scientific concepts? How do you think art and science can complement one another?
I’m actually not that sure, it’s hard to trace where it all started. I think my sense of curiosity has been there since childhood, which is what ties art and science together. I don’t see art and science as separate subjects, although they’ve appeared as separate disciplines for quite some time. In the days of artist and scientist Leonardo Di Vinci and before then, art and science weren’t seen as separate disciplines. So its interesting how our perception of art and science has changed over time. I see them as subjects that complement, but to me they’re not so different. Both art and science explore our experiences of the world around us, so they’re extremely closely related, even the processes and methods used to ‘experiment’ in art and science are also really similar. Once you realise this, you notice science in art and art in science, everywhere.
Can you tell us more about your creative process, and how it’s affected in collaborate practice?
I’m an artist who uses lots of different processes, many which aren’t traditionally used in art. The creative processes I use electronics, macro video, underwater sound, underwater pumps, fish tanks, found objects, light sequences and more. I tend to come up with an idea and push it as far as I can, so I usually end up borrowing equipment from institutions or doing residencies in science labs, to borrow high quality equipment to explore my ideas in more depth; along with the knowledge of specialists that can help me push my project as far as it can go. This is usually where collaboration happens with scientists and researchers, as well as through my involvement in The Superposition Collective, made up of artists, scientists and makers in Leeds. More recently, I’ve also collaborated with artists like Joe Beedles, through my involvement in the Platform: North West Artists Development Lab with Signal Film and Media in Cumbria. We were encouraged to collaborate, but there was no pressure to so. Joe’s work is audio-visual, where he performs in galleries and clubs using UV light sequences and interesting liquids in tanks. Therefore, there were lots of crossovers and that’s when we decided to collaborate to make ‘The Abyssal Glow’. Collaboration is key in my practice, as it means I can push my ideas as far as they can go and lead projects to create artworks that have a real depth and meaning to them, so the sky really is the limit!
What role do you think art plays in our everyday lives?
Art is part of who we are as a human race, so it really is embedded in everything that we do. From the way we arrange our homes, to the way we choose what to wear – ‘creativity’ is within all one of us – whether you realise it or not.
Finally, are you currently working on any existing projects?
I’m not at the moment (for a change!). I’m having a well needed break since I worked solidly with Joe for six months on ‘The Abyssal Glow’ project. I’m at a stage where I’m starting to see my practice as a profession, so for the first time I’m getting support to apply for funding to support my work, in order to take my practice to the next level. I’m hoping to do some international and local residencies later this year to receive mentorship from artists and studios that I love, so that’s what I’m currently working on. Joe and I are going to discuss future plans soon too, so watch this space.
Bonus question time: What book are you currently reading and why?
I’m currently reading two books, 2001: Space Odyssey by Arthur C.Clarke and The Doors of Perception by Aldous Huxley