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25th January 2019

As part of her second year final project, Contemporary Craft degree student Kate Buckley has created five vitrines entitled ‘Lost for Words’, showing the impact of dementia on the brain. Her artwork is a response to her own mother’s dementia diagnosis in 2012 and seeing her living with the condition.

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Kate, aged 53, says: “My research revealed the majority of artwork currently available on dementia is by sufferers, or by their carers - there is very little out there by 3D artists. My mixed-media sculptures resemble the neural pathways of the brain and the impact dementia has on them. I wanted to make this a very personal project, putting across the effect of dementia on my own mum.”

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Kate’s mother has a rare form of the disease; frontotemporal dementia, which affects the front and sides of the brain (the frontal and temporal lobes) and causes problems with behaviour and language. Kate says: “She is now unable to communicate. Watching her deteriorate over the years has been soul destroying for her and the whole family. Researching and making the pieces has been a hugely emotional journey as well as a therapeutic one.”

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Kate embarked on the BA (Hons) Contemporary Craft degree shortly after her mother's diagnosis and the sudden death of her brother. Previously, she had been a primary teacher for twenty-five years.  She decided that she wanted to re-evaluated her life and, aged 48, she enrolled on the Art Foundation Diploma at York College (alongside 120 other students in their late teens/early 20s). She says: "It was the best year of my life, it was life-affirming and I was happy again."

Progressing onto the Contemporary Craft degree at the College Kate has been able to develop her creativity and learn the commercial side of running a business in order to live her dream of becoming a successful working artist.

Kate Buckley with one of her vitrinesweb

On completion of her degree this year, Kate is looking forward to setting up her own creative business, working in a range of mediums. She says: “This is the best course I could have studied, there is no other course that teaches you how to be a viable working artist. I am over-whelmed by the support I have had from my tutors and the life-changing experience I have had at the College.”

Kate’s work has been selected for display at the Alzheimer’s Research UK Conference at the Harrogate Convention Centre (19-20 March). She is also showing this and other work at the Merchant Taylors Hall for York Residents’ Weekend (Sunday 27th January).

Kate and two other Contemporary Craft degree students – sculpture Vincent Llyles and jeweller Lue Jaques - have been selected to exhibit for York Open Studios in April this year. Their work will be on show at Venue 71, The Winning Post, Bishopthorpe Road.


Related Link

BA (Hons) Contemporary Craft

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