Sue Austin is a multimedia, performance, and installation artist with a socially engaged practice shaped by and emerging from her experience of disability. As Artistic Director and Co-founder of Freewheeling, she “recognises the power of starting at the ‘personal’ and then finding archetypal, numinous images that ‘communicate’ through connecting with universal human experiences.” She aims to find dramatic and powerful ways to reveal the ‘Hidden Secret’ of disability, arguing that this ‘secret,’ if explored, valued, and then shared, can act to heal the divisions created in the social psyche by cultural dichotomies that define the ‘disabled’ as ‘other.’
Previous Freewheeling collaborations have used surreal juxtapositions and quirky representations of disability equipment to facilitate new ways of seeing, being, and knowing. This led to an opportunity to spread the intentions for her practice on an international scale when she was awarded an Unlimited Commission as part of the Cultural Olympiad in Britain in 2012. That commission, “Creating the Spectacle!,” is a groundbreaking series of live art and video works of an underwater wheelchair as it flies along mid-water with its human occupant, transforming preconceptions through images that aim to excite and inspire.