We’re excited to announce Essex-based sculptor Katie Surridge as the winner of the fourth DARE Art Prize, part of the pioneering DARE partnership between the University of Leeds and Opera North, and in association with the National Science and Media Museum and The Tetley, Leeds.

The £15,000 award challenges artists and scientists to collaborate on new approaches to the creative process.

Katie’s proposal addresses the problem of e-waste: the valuable resources including gold, silver, copper, platinum, aluminium and cobalt present in discarded electronic devices. 57.4 million metric tonnes of e-waste was generated last year, and annual wastage is growing by an average of 2 mt a year.

Katie Surridge casting steel from a traditional Japanese furnace

“I have an aversion to modern technology and my work is often inspired by folklore, stories and skills from the past. My last major body of work involved making my own iron from ore. But my DARE project will transport me from the Iron Age back to the present, where I will be looking at extracting metal from e-waste using microbes. I want to start with public workshops, collecting the stories of people who donate the e-waste, then go on to build machines to crush the appliances, eventually ending up with a metal-rich liquid which will be used to electroplate sculptures.”

Katie Surridge, DARE Art Prize winner 2022/23

Katie will collaborate with scientists from the School of Chemical and Process Engineering at the University of Leeds, world-leaders in developing more sustainable processes for chemical production, and the Henry Royce Institute for advanced materials, a Northern Powerhouse initiative of which the University is a partner.

Her practice often combines her metalworking skills – acquired over three years at the National School of Blacksmithing, studies with masters of the art in Japan, and archaeologists and metallurgists in Ireland – with public engagement. “A genuine interest in connecting with people through absurd artistic interventions and inventions is key,” she says.

“I’m over the moon to have been selected for the DARE Art Prize. I’m sure that having the support, facilities and connections that the Prize offers will allow me to develop some of my most exciting work to date.”

Katie Surridge, DARE Art Prize winner 2022/23

“The novelist and scientist C. P. Snow coined the notion of ‘The Two Cultures’ over sixty years ago, and we’re still struggling to bridge that gulf between the ‘soft’ humanities and the ‘hard’ sciences today. The DARE Art Prize is unique in its brief of bringing creative artists into contact with scientists, and the three previous winners have done important and exciting work both to create new works of art and to stimulate new interdisciplinary research. I’m really excited to see what Katie will come up with during her tenure.”

Professor Frank Finlay, Dean of Cultural Engagement and Director of the Cultural Institute at the University of Leeds

The calibre of entries to the Prize this year was extremely high, with artists working in media ranging from glass to the digital space, and interested in scientific disciplines such as fluid dynamics, toxicology and AI. Becky Smith, Head of Higher Education Partnerships at Opera North, comments: “While it offers extraordinary access and routes into collaborating with scientists, curators and staff at Opera North, the monetary value of the Prize also brings freedom and time to conceptualise and create. For our previous winners, it’s been career-defining, and we can’t wait to see how Katie’s skilled, multi-faceted and generous approach to art-making develops during her time here.”

Katie will begin forging collaborative relationships with staff at the partner institutions over the coming weeks, with an outcome – in whatever form it takes – expected a year from now.


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