Illuminating the Self

Illuminating the Self, Cando, at the Royal School of Needlework - Susan Aldworth

Out of the Blue, Susan Aldworth 2020. Photograph by Peter Abrahams

Hatton Gallery. Newcastle 18 January – 9 May 2020 (Out of the Blue installation)

Vane, Newcastle 15 January 29 February (Portraits, prints and cyanotypes)

Illuminating the Self exhibition is the culmination of a two year collaboration between the Newcastle University-led CANDO research project for which I have made a 3 part installation Out of the Blue.

The first part at Hatton Gallery, is an installation of 100 items of Victorian Underwear – chemises, nightdresses, bloomers -embroidered with the words of people living with epilepsy, suspended from the gallery ceiling in a single block of one hundred, lit by natural and ultraviolet light. The garments move on pulleys programmed by computers to correspond to the algorithms of electrical activity in an epileptic brain. This represents the 1 in 100 people living with the condition.

The second part is a limited edition Artist’s book (15 copies) which contains the full text of the testimonies alongside 64 photographs by Peter Abrahams of the embroidered garments. This can be purchased from Hatton Gallery shop or TAG Fine Art, London.

The third part, at Vane, is an installation of 18 large scale cyanotypes printed on fine Japanese paper. Cyanotypes are made using ultraviolet light, a process which mirrors the use of light in the optogenetic therapies being developed by the scientists. These prints explore, through pattern, the synchronization that occurs in the brain during an epileptic seizure.

At Vane, I am also showing a set of large-scale monotype portraits of 3 people living with epilepsy which were first shown at the National Portrait Gallery in 2013 as The Portrait Anatomised.

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Wanted! Embroiderers to help create art installation exploring epilepsy


I am looking for 100 people to embroider words onto garments for an exhibition, Illuminating the Self(Hatton Gallery & Vane, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, January 2020)which will explore the experience of living with epilepsy.

I am working in collaboration with a team of 30 neuroscientists, engineers, clinicians and artists from the CANDO project (Controlling Abnormal Network Dynamics using Optogenetics) at Newcastle University and Imperial College, London to explore the ethical, philosophical and personal implications of the cutting-edge brain implants they are developing to try and control focal epilepsy. Epilepsy affects 600,000 people in the UK and uncontrolled seizures have devastating effects on patients’ lives.

The 100 items of embroidered clothing will be hung from the gallery ceiling by wires, and programmed to move in the neural patterns and pathways associated with epilepsy.  The movement will become increasingly synchronised. Once fully aligned, they will collapse onto the floor. Slowly, the clothes will start to move again, and restore themselves into their original configuration.

The words will be personal testimonies contributed by people living with epilepsy and also by their carers.

A wide range of clothing is being used, from historical to contemporary items. It is being donated by British designers, Hawk &Dove fine Apparel, and the public (including people with epilepsy) – from wedding dresses and veils, men’s shirts and Victorian underwear to children’s night wear. The eclectic mix of clothing suggests the very individual nature of epilepsy, and the number of garments highlights the fact that 1 in 100 people have some form of epilepsy.

Whether you are a world class embroiderer or do needlework as a hobby, we’d really love to hear from you. We intend to provide the words and garments to all of our volunteer embroiderers in January 2019 and we would need to receive the completed embroidery back from them by 1st May 2019. We plan to use UV sensitive threads as well as other threads for the project as we will be using blue light and UV light as part of the installation, so the words they embroider will quite literally shine out from the clothing.”

If you’d like to get involved, please contact Susan Aldworth directly on

York Press’ Arts editor, Charles Hutchinson’s selected Susan Aldworth’s The Dark Self, York St Mary’s, Castlegate, York, as Exhibition of the Year in 2017.

Susan Aldworth in her installation The Dark Self, York St Mary's photo by James Hardisty. 2017

Susan Aldworth in her installation The Dark Self, York St Mary’s photo by James Hardisty. 2017

PILLOWS were such stuff as dreams were made on in London installation artist Susan Aldworth’s exhibition: 414 former hotel pillows to be precise, newly individually embroidered with all manner of thoughts, humorous and serious, and suspended from the ceiling in the church nave of York St Mary’s in rows like a flotilla of sails

“You have to have a central installation in an exhibition like this, otherwise you don’t make the church come alive, and I want the pillowcases to represent the congregation. All of them represent the thoughts of individual minds and if you think of the building as a place of contemplation, the pillows are the dreams hovering in there.” Susan Aldworth 2017


The Dark Self: Susan Aldworth 7 June – 3 September 2017

The Dark Self

The Dark Self

The Dark Self: Susan Aldworth
7 June – 3 September 2017

The Dark Self is a major new exhibition by Susan Aldworth exploring the experience of sleep. A highly original and experimental artist known for her unorthodox printmaking techniques and philosophical investigations into the human brain and identity, in this exhibition Aldworth challenges us to reflect upon our nightly transitions from consciousness to oblivion. Aldworth has been Artist in Residence at the University of York since 2014.

Gallery opening times
Wednesday– Sunday, 11am– 4pm. Free entry.
York St Mary’s, Castlegate, York YO1 9RN

Talks and Events
Artist’s talk: The Dark Self
Tuesday 6 June, 6 – 6.45pm
York St Mary’s
Free tickets:
01904 324466

Panel discussion
Saturday 17 June, 2.30 – 3.20pm
Artist Susan Aldworth, neuroscientist Miles Whittington and art historian Michael White explore the art and science of sleep.
Ron Cooke Hub, University of York, Heslington, York YO10 5GE
Free tickets:
01904 324466

The Art of Sleep
21 June – 21 July, Monday 10am – 5pm; Wednesday – Saturday, 10am – 5.30pm
An exhibition of experimental monoprints produced by Susan Aldworth in preparation for The Dark Self. Admission free.
Lotte Inch Gallery, 10 Bootham, York YO30 7BL / 01904 848660

Embroiderers’ Day
Saturday 24 June, 2.30 – 4.30pm
Meet at York St Mary’s at 2.30pm for a tour of The Dark Self with Susan Aldworth followed by a 4pm reception at Lotte Inch Gallery to view The Art of Sleep. Free event.


REALISATION: Recent works by Susan Aldworth and Jane Dixon, Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge 13 September 2016 – 5 February 2017

REALISATION: Recent works by Susan Aldworth and Jane Dixon, Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge
13 September 2016 – 5 February 2017

This exhibition of beautiful contemporary prints by two British artists challenges our assumptions of reality and identity. Jane Dixon’s photograms, Evidence of Doubt, appear to be photographic records of real organic forms, but prove to be imaginary and drawn by the artist’s hand. The intangible images in Susan Aldworth’s two series of prints, Transience and Passing Thoughts, resist recognition and identification, yet they actually derive from the physical touch of human brain tissue, and portray real people.

Realisation: Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge

The Artists Network: Susan Aldworth – Reassembling The Self – 12 May 2015

Reassembling The Self

Reassembling The Self

Waterside Arts Centre
Tuesday, 12 May 2015 from 19:00 to 21:00

Join artist Susan Aldworth as she discusses her work and the acclaimed Reassembling the Self exhibition (at Waterside until 30th May 2015).

The exhibition explores themes of perception and experiences of schizophrenia through printmaking and film, drawing on Susan’s residency at Newcastle University’s Institute of Neuroscience and her work with people diagnosed with schizophrenia.

The event is free, and you can register on:

T:   0161 912 5616

AAF Battersea – 11 March 2015

The Reality Principle

The Reality Principle

Susan Aldworth’s new trilogy of lenticular prints The Reality Principle were inspired both by Freudian theory, and a question the artist found herself asking whilst looking at a medical scan showing the anatomy of a brain; what would it look like to see the inner workings of the mind, and an imagination’s moment of inspiration? The series were created as lenticulars as Susan felt the sense of movement of these time-based prints would enable the spark of inspiration to be visually represented. 

AAF  Battersea
11- 15 March 2015
TAG Fine Arts
Stand E10
Battersea Park

Reassembling the Self – 7 February 2015

The Entangled Self 3, Susan Aldworth 2014, etching, 31 x 25 cms

The Entangled Self 3, Susan Aldworth 2014, etching, 31 x 25 cms

Aldworth collaborated with two renowned master printers on work for the exhibition, creating the ‘Reassembling the Self’ lithographs with the legendary Stanley Jones at the Curwen Studio and the ‘Entangled Self’ etchings with Nigel Oxley, ex Kelpra and White Ink studios.

Reassembling the Self
Saturday 7 February – Saturday 30 May 2015
Opening event Friday 6 February 7-9pm
Waterside Arts Centre
1 Waterside Plaza, Sale, M33 7ZF
0161 912 5616

Reassembling the Self – 16 September 2014

Reassembling the Self 1, Susan Aldworth 2012, lithograph, 84 x 56 cms

Reassembling the Self 1, Susan Aldworth 2012, lithograph, 84 x 56 cms

Reassembling the Self
Curated by Susan Aldworth
16 September – 11 October 2014
GV Art gallery, London

GV Art gallery, 49 Chiltern Street, London W1U 6LY
T: 020 8408 9800    E:    W:
Press release: GV Art -Reassembling the Self – Press Release

Reassembling the Self  is an exhibition centred on a study of the condition of schizophrenia, which weaves together art, science, psychiatry and individual histories in an extraordinary exploration of self, perception and the fragility of human identity. The work in the exhibition presents a series of responses to schizophrenia by three artists including two with a schizophrenia diagnosis.

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