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The Spotlight Award 2024
Each year the Spotlight Award supports a disabled artist to develop their creative practice and learn more about the process of exhibiting their work. The artist receives mentoring from Chesterfield based artist Bella Milroy. Each project culminates in a solo exhibition at Level Centre that gives a behind the scenes look at the artists’ methodology and celebrates their creative practice.
The Spotlight Award winner for 2024 is Grace Currie who will be exhibiting work at Level from January 2024.
A catastrophic accident in 2010 resulted in a severe brain injury which left Grace with interrelating disabilities and her own unique and neurodivergent view of the world. She shares this view through her practice, working in the medium of paint, clay, video, and performance. In 2020 she graduated with a 1st class honours degree from Chester University.
She feels that her social identity – as a disabled woman, reduces her in some people’s eyes to child status…an identity she resists but draws attention to in her childlike portraits of figures or faces. By paring down her portraits and self-portraits into simple shapes she aims to show how people’s complex identity gets simplified, and to set up a tension in the viewer between the childlike form and the adult themes.
For her degree show she created work that explored her identity, an identity that is splintered and evolving, and the disorientating sense of fractured self the situation of 24/7 care engenders. The large-scale figures whilst humorous expressed the powerlessness and frustration of feeling reduced or ignored.
Towards the end of 2021 Grace was approached by Dr. Lucy Series from Cardiff University to provide illustrations for a promotional video supporting her book on the marginalisation of differently abled people through the ages. The project really struck a chord and launched a whole raft of experimental work representing her feelings about interacting with institutions, and the 21st Century reality that restriction of freedom is still going on. It may not take the form of strait jackets and asylums but may be imposed more subtly by committee and care.
In 2022 she was one of 31 Deaf, Disabled and Neurodivergent artists to take part in the DASH award winning project: We Are Invisible We Are Visible (WAIWAV) a national event in recognition of the 102nd anniversary of the first DaDa International Exhibition of surreal and strange artworks. The artists involved disrupted 30 museums and galleries nationwide with surreal interventions. Grace performed a piece of work entitled Put Away Neatly – at HOME Gallery in Manchester. This piece explored the repeated words and phrases that can be uttered by the people who have our best interests at heart, but which often have the culminative impact of keeping us safe, tidy, and silent.
Grace is currently submitting to open calls locally and nationally and is working towards a solo exhibition in 2024.