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Keay, Cath



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Dr Cath Keay’s practice focuses on sculpture and architecture as two ways of exploring constructed form. For her Helen Chadwick Fellowship at the British School at Rome in 2008-09 she produced work in response to Italy's legacy of 'Colonie Estive', experimental architecture built as children's holiday camps in the 1930s. During residencies in Düsseldorf and Berlin she began exploring utopian Expressionism, leading to a three-year Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellowship at Edinburgh College of Art titled Extending the Glass Chain- 100 years on. Revisiting the methodology of the 1919 Gläserne Kette or ‘Glass Chain’ correspondence she collaborated with international artists, architects and film makers to create shared visions using digital methods. Her book titled Extending the Glass Chain (ISBN 978-1-904-443-80-3) gathers collaborating practitioners’ accounts of this work along with archival drawings by expressionist architects not published before. Two exhibitions in Matthew Gallery, Edinburgh and SASA Gallery, Adelaide followed in 2018.

Cath graduated from Glasgow School of Art (BA Hons), Edinburgh College of Art (MFA) and completed a practice-based PhD at Newcastle University in 2010. Her doctoral thesis examined collaborative and un-authored strategies in sculpture and artists’ writing. Cath’s interest in hands-off methodologies: ways in which dynamic forces or chance, can determine the final form of work, for instance utilising the action of insects or gravity to complete sculptures or prints. She used social animals such as bees as a metaphor for our own society, creating parallels between our architecture and the construction of a beehive. Recent work draws on themes of Modernist architecture and its utopian intent: a residency in Berlin resulted in the show 'Denkmal' at Galerie Lage Egal. For 'Middlesbrough Modern Beehives' she produced four working beehives based on Brutalist architecture from around Teesside, which were exhibited at MIMA before being sited in community spaces.

Her interest in interdisciplinary research has led to collaborative projects with agriculturists marine biologists, beekeepers and musicians. As part of the Concurrent research group she led interdisciplinary workshops with musicians and artists at Tate Liverpool in 2017. Her porcelain installation Hung Sentence was central tothe performance A Bit in the Air (collaboration with musician Graeme Wilson) and Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra, commissioned for GIOFEST VIII at the Centre for Contemporary Art, Glasgow.

She currently works with artist Andrea Roe on Carneval, a project that utilises sculptural methodologies to create a circular economy that utilises by-products from the brewing industry to improve the wellbeing of farmed animals. This project has been presented at the Design Museum Ghent in 2019, and Hanstholm Art Space, Denmark (postponed to 2021).

Cath co-organised the inclusive two-day conference An Extraordinary Gathering (2018) to celebrate alternative creative practices. Keynote speaker was Joyce Laing, art therapist and founder of Scotland’s Art Extraordinary collection held in Glasgow Museums.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production
  • SDG 14 - Life Below Water


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