26 November 2022 to 25 February 2023
British artist Sue Austin creates multimedia, performance, and installation art, using her wheelchair as a means to explore new patterns of movement, and her art to change people’s perceptions of the wheelchair, and its meaning and potential in contemporary society. In repurposing her wheelchair to create fantastical art, she reshapes how we think about disability.
In 2012, Austin was commissioned to create a series of multimedia events as part of that year’s Cultural Olympiad, in conjunction with the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics. The resulting first part of an ongoing series of works, titled ‘Creating the Spectacle!’ – Part 1 – Finding Freedom is a spectacular immersive dance performance and underwater exploration. In the film, Austin uses her arms to guide her through the water, and she wears a summery dress with her long hair flowing freely, as she navigates through schools of fish and past massive coral reefs.
Sue would say that each person that becomes aware of the underwater wheelchair and ‘Creating the Spectacle!’ has become part of the artwork too. The next iteration of ‘Creating the Spectacle!’ will present to the world a wheelchair that both flies and dives! This aims to reshape how people think about the wheelchair, and perhaps gain an insight into the freedom it gives one. The work perhaps hints at the way we are all experiencing the world in new ways through technology.
This exhibition is a transition between Austin’s underwater films and performances and yet more ambitious future works – and includes footage from ‘Creating the Spectacle!’ – Part 1 – Finding Freedom, a series of banners and posters documenting the global-spanning impact of Austin’s work, and footage of the journey (some in spectacular 360 degree immersive format) of Creating the Spectacle into the sky and beyond! #WillSheWontShe
Sue Austin ‘Creating the Spectacle!’: Surrounded by Fish Above Yellow Coral
Sue Austin from Flight revision at Bannadettes Airfield near Toulouse June 2022