The Art department’s artist-in-residence this term is Susan Atwill, a multi-media research artist and sound hunter from Sunderland. Using North-East England as an influence, her work navigates the relationships between heritage and inheritance through sound, photography, film and sculpture.
Susan has been making use of documents and videos from the school archives, as well as artefacts from the library’s special collections, and is using the school’s heritage in a project she is developing with pupils in the Art department. She is interested in what aspects from the past resonate through different generations and is working with pupils to perceive the echoes that can be pulled from artefacts and documents, and the architecture that we inhabit at school – the same spaces that have been travelled by thousands of previous pupils.
Their collaborative project incorporates experimental approaches to film, storyboarding, sound, and design to link experiences from the past to the present. The film will be projected on the cloister walls at a premiere on Friday 3 December from 5:00 to 6:30pm.
She has also worked with Pippa Thompson (N) and Max Lee (S) on the preparation of their Yarrow Gallery exhibition, ‘Where the Wildflowers Grow’. Footage filmed by pupils of the school bees provides a multi-sensory soundscape to the exhibition’s display of art.
Susan’s background is in 3D design, with a focus on ceramic materials and processes. After a teaching career in sculpture, she recently completed an MA in Information Experience Design at the Royal College of Art, a multi-disciplinary course which gave her the opportunity to work alongside different disciplines such as engineers, biologists, and anthropologists, using data to inform audience experiences. She focused on her mining heritage in Sunderland and Durham, exploring what she calls the geography, geology, and archaeology of fossilised sound from the mines. Her work includes reference to how the physical work of mining informed how they spoke in Pitmatic dialect.
During the course at the RCA, Susan was a selected artist for Bloomberg New Contemporaries 2021. Her work is currently on show at the First Site Gallery Colchester (Museum of the Year) and will be exhibited at the South London Gallery from December 10 to 20 February.