In a world where creativity knows no bounds, British artist Kate Daudy transcends traditional artistic boundaries through her profound collaborations, innovative NFT creations, and an upcoming immersive journey to the heart of the Amazon rainforest. A recent interview with Daudy reveals the intricate tapestry of her artistic process, the fusion of diverse materials and ideas, and the transformative power of art in addressing critical global issues.
TNG: Your artistic practice involves exploring various media and collaborating with professionals from diverse fields. How do these collaborations influence your creative process, and how do you approach integrating different ideas and materials into your art?
K: I like learning, and my work is a great medium for me to learn about the world around me. I use new materials like for example graphene – carbon one atom thick - in my work, thanks to the longstanding collaboration I have with scientist Kostya Novoselov. I have worked using sheep as a medium in a work that was commissioned by the Spanish Ministry of Culture for the Hay Festival. I have learned to cut and weld steel thanks to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park and have made large scale sculptures for them and other spaces. I did a collaboration with Corin Mellor of David Mellor, making hundreds of chimes for the installation work “All You Had To Do Was Stay” and “Light Years, Week Days” for the Institute for Functional Intelligent Materials at the National University of Singapore. For this we learned about sound, acoustics, the different resonance of metals and other materials. I am currently making stained glass windows using honey from the plains of Burgundy in France, which have been commissioned by Columbia University for their Institute for Ideas and the Imagination in Paris. The research has led me to talk with beekeepers and visit hives all over England and France, and will result in new sculptural work that has been commissioned by the Alarachi Foundation in the Bolivian cloud forests, to house the bees there. I have just finished a collaboration with ceramicist Kate Malone, who is renowned for her research into glazes, on a project which will benefit Youth Zone, a charity taking care of some 60,000 underprivileged kids in the UK. I spent a couple of days with her in Kent working with clay, and exploring this new material informs the way I work with the wax models I use for works I cast in bronze, as well as the way I see the natural world. The earth is benevolent and forgiving. It is amazing we treat it so badly.
TNG: Our exhibition “The Evolution Project" was a unique exploration of NFTs as an artistic medium. What inspired you to delve into the NFT space?
K: The Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg invited us to create an NFT for an exhibition they were having. I had no idea about NFTs. I sat on a park bench with my brother explaining an idea I had about what could be possible with NFTs – to create a link between the virtual, real and future world, and he thought it was a great idea. We received generous funding from the Algorand Foundation which we used to work with the best people we could find from universities and research institutes, and made this beautiful, interesting NFT and a film that goes with it. Kostya and I had worked previously with the STAIN studio on a digital artwork which received great critical acclaim and is part of the collection of the MMAM where it was shown at their digital art biennial.
TNG: How do you see the relationship between traditional art forms and digital art, and how do they complement each other in your creative expression?
K: I love learning about new mediums, and the digital field is the future. I felt glad that working with such good people, directed by James Viggers, meant our project could be so innovative, and have real purity of intent. Around the time we were coming out with our NFT there was a big fuss about the high prices that NFTs could attain on the marketplace, and I think it distracted from the interest the medium can hold. Having worked with such an amazing team I have an understanding of the field and am sometimes surprised by the lack of imagination of the more commercial projects. Poorly thought through work has given NFTs a bad press. I love the work of Kim Lim, who is creating something completely new. I came across her work through the LV200 campaign of which I was a part. There are so many good people who really know about NFTs, like you at the NFT Gallery, Alex Estorick at Right Click Save, the curators of the Unit digital space, who have a deep knowledge of what you see and then follow through with real support. Thanks to these people with vision I have, I suppose a better informed view of NFTs and so feel about them differently than many.
TNG: Your upcoming residency in the Amazon rainforest living with a tribe offers a unique opportunity for creative exploration. How do you think this immersive experience will impact your artistic vision and connect with your previous themes of human connection and the universe?
K: Philly Adams, the former Director of the Saatchi Gallery in London is now running a new foundation in the Amazon RainForest. They have offered me a month long residency in February 2024 which I am honoured to accept, living with an indigenous tribe.
I did a residency last year in the Meteora mountains with artist Paloma Proudfoot and Rowena Hughes, thanks to the Ainalayn Foundation. I had not ever been away for a whole month just to work, and it was one of the great experiences of my artistic practice. I hiked in the hills gathering found objects, swimming in ancient streams, visited the monasteries, and conducted interviews about home and identity with the villagers to create the multi media installation Punctum (Future Nostalgia) which is one of my best works I think. Being given the opportunity to get away and live with a community this way is a great good fortune. I imagine that living with a tribe in the forest will be an extraordinary experience, and hopefully some good work will come out of it.
Punctum (Future Nostalgia) by Kate Daudy
TNG: The Amazon rainforest faces environmental challenges, and its preservation is of global importance. How do you think this residency might inspire you to address environmental themes in your art, and how can art contribute to raising awareness about such critical issues?
K: The core of my work is inviting the viewer to think about issues in a way that makes them feel empowered to make a difference. This is why I have been invited to the forest, I expect, and I am sure that what I learn there will lead to some new ideas. The work I made “Am I My Brother’s Keeper?” – a work about home and identity that led me to visit refugee camps, was used by the UNHCR to raise awareness of the ever-worsening refugee crisis. When I made the work a few years ago there were 64 million refugees, there are now 100 million and rising. One of the themes of the work is climate change, which contributes to the refugee crisis directly and indirectly. Something like 52% of refugee cases are caused by problems related to climate change: drought, exhausted earth, famine, erosion, and terrible storms. A population then moves to a new place where there are already limited resources, which leads to conflict, war, and more refugees. Climate change is a huge issue for all of us, not just the natural world, but for human beings. Thanks to my work in this area I have met people involved with dealing with climate change issues in innovative ways and also those who are preparing contingency plans for population movement. The city of New York has a carefully planned refugee contingency plan laid down by a friend of mine hired by Mayor Bloomberg after the last floods. Refugees are not just people out there far away: we are all at the mercy of becoming refugees. Many of our ancestors fled from poverty, hunger, war, disease. We are all connected.
‘Am I My Brother’s Keeper?’ by Kate Daudy
TNG: The Amazon rainforest holds immense spiritual significance for many indigenous communities. Do you anticipate exploring themes of spirituality and interconnectedness in your art during the residency?
K: The themes of spirituality and interconnectedness are at the heart of all my work. I have started reading a book by Scott Wallace, “The Unconquered: In Search of the Amazon’s Last Uncontacted Tribes”. I just finished “The Golden Bough” by JG Frazier which it occurred to me to re-read in the context of the residency as well. My art + science project with Kostya Novoselov “Everything is Connected” seeks to underline the fact that we are connected, be it through the collective spirit or by literal fact, scientifically proved by Kostya. We illustrate this point in various ways, writing across cities, making films, working with AI.
TNG: Your work has taken you to various cities and places around the world. How has travelling influenced your artistic vision and the themes you explore in your art?
K: Thanks to my work I have been invited to places I would never have dreamed of. It has brought me to meet some of the most fascinating people: scientists, diplomats, I have witnessed open heart surgeries at the Hammersmith Hospital for my show “It Wasn’t That At All” – the contemporary response to the blockbuster Tutankhamun show at the Saatchi, I have interviewed nuns about their life, I have visited prehistoric cave dwellings in Greece with archaeologists, learned hieroglyphs and read ancient Egyptian letters and poems, and swum in the healing stream of Asclepius, held the diary of Howard Carter in my hands at the Griffith Institute, visited scientific institutes all over the world, spent time at CERN with the theoretical physicists. All for my work. I have been so fortunate to be able to spend time travelling and meeting people with a goal in mind, of creating beautiful thought- provoking artwork.
TNG: Are there any specific ideas or concepts that you are excited to explore and translate into visual form during your residency?
K: My experience is that ideas and concepts will come to me while I am there. Mostly when I think that I am going to learn about Y from an experience I end up finding myself understanding more about X, so I have sort of stopped coming to things with specific expectations. David Foster Wallace said this great thing: “Don’t worry about getting in touch with your feelings, they will be in touch with you.” I think it is the same with life in general. Being in this world so open to new experiences is not always easy. I didn’t sleep the whole night for years after making the art work “Am I My Brother’s Keeper?” and think of the people in those camps every day. I am sure my experience in the rainforest will be most profound, but I do not know in what way. For the moment I am reading about the forest and the peoples, and as always thinking about what connects us all, and what we can learn from one another.
TNG: Looking ahead, what are some upcoming projects or themes you're excited to explore in your digital artwork? How do you see your art evolving as you continue to tell stories through your lens?
K: That is a good question. Our NFT continues to be of interest to collectors, and I would gladly find someone who could help our team with bringing them to a more general public, so that it can work fluidly (each sale generates new creations). I saw a show at EMST in Athens the other day, curated by Katerina Gregos and Ioli Tzanetaki of Yannis Xenakis. It was a revelation to me, not just my discovery of the fantastic work of this great artist, but also as a confirmation of something that I feel insecure about sometimes, which is my conviction that an artist can do whatever they want, in whatever field they want. I am currently writing a book of poetry, working on a sound piece, planning work with the biggest 3d printer in the world, getting started on a work with the greatest kite-maker in China to recreate Edison’s experiment with lightning. I am sure I will do more digital work. It is the future, and a fascinating medium, with brilliant people leading it.