Award-winning playwright and artist announced as inaugural Creativity Fellows

Pictures of Kaite O'Reilly and Peter Matthews, inaugural Swansea University Creativity Fellows

Two artists have been chosen for inaugural Creativity Fellowships, Swansea University’s Cultural Institute has announced.

Kaite O’Reilly, a playwright who works in disability arts and mainstream culture, and Peter Matthews, a visual artist whose work straddles the performance and the conceptual, will take up their one year Fellowships next month. 

Created by writer and Professor in Creativity Owen Sheers, the Creativity Fellowships are an exciting new initiative that offers two professional artists the chance to engage with and explore cutting-edge academic research at Swansea University. Each artist will have 12 months to immerse themselves in a chosen research project, before creating new works of art to be unveiled in December 2020.

Winner of the Ted Hughes Award, playwright, radio dramatist, writer and dramaturg Kaite O’Reilly will be working with Prof. David Turner on the Disability and the Industrial Revolution project at the College of Arts and Humanities.

Sky Arts Landscape Artist of the Year Peter Matthews, a visual artist who specialises in creating paintings alongside or under the oceans of the world, will be collaborating with Dr. Ruth Callaway on her Swansea Bay bioscience research, Changing Coasts.

‘Becoming one of the inaugural Creativity fellowships is an immense privilege and pleasure,” said Kaite O’Reilly, “I’ve been making plays about the lived experience of disability for many years and I’m immensely excited about continuing this work with an historical perspective, bringing light to these past lives so long left in the darkness, unspoken and unsung.’

‘I am delighted to have been chosen to be one of the two Creativity Fellows at Swansea University,” Peter Matthews commented. “I will be collaborating with Dr. Ruth Callaway as we explore how the visual arts and marine biology overlap and find a creative symbiosis when coupled together as two subjects of study and enquiry. I am really excited to get out on the beach and start drawing!'

The Cultural Institute was inundated with applications from the moment the fellowships were announced, making shortlisting an incredibly difficult challenge. After careful deliberation however, Kaite and Peter were chosen by a judging panel consisting of Prof. Owen Sheers, Dr. Sharon Bishop (Swansea Science Festival), Prof. John Spurr (Head of Arts and Humanities), Prof. Liz McAvoy (English Literature & Creative Writing) and Karen MacKinnon (curator of Swansea's Glynn Vivian Art Gallery).

Owen Sheers said, ‘I’m so pleased to be getting these Fellowships off the ground with two such talented and exciting artists. I hope they and their academic partners will have a fascinating year of collaboration and exploration, which also promises to be a powerful engine for furthering a vibrant conversation between the sciences and the arts at the University and in the wider community.’

Professor David Turner commented, ‘I am thrilled at the prospect of working with Kaite O’Reilly to bring the histories of disabled people to life. Kaite’s commitment to empowering disabled people through the creative arts will provide new and exciting ways of connecting the struggles of disabled people in the past with the experiences of people today.’

‘I am exceptionally curious about working with Peter Matthews,’ Ruth Callaway said, ‘His art and my research are so strongly linked to the sea that we have this common interest to start the conversation while having entirely different approaches.’

The start of Kaite and Peter’s fellowships will be marked with a public event on Friday 15 November in which both artists will talk about their work and their approach to the fellowships.

Both Kaite and Peter will engage with Swansea University students, staff and the local community through free workshops at various points in the Fellowship, details about which will be released in due course. 

Friday 15 November, 6.00pm – 7.30pm, Taliesin Create, Swansea University

Reserve your tickets for the public event with the Creativity Fellows

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