Simon McKeown is an award-winning internationally exhibiting artist renowned for his work on disability as well as our digital futures.
He exhibits internationally and his works, including Motion Disabled which was the first non-medical study of impaired motion, have been exhibited as far afield as the Smithsonian International Gallery in the USA, The DOX Centre for Contemporary Art in Prague, Czech Republic, GAK in Kosovo along with galleries in Australia, Norway, America, South America, the UK, along with the Deutsches Hygiene-Museum in Dresden, Germany. In 2018 he exhibited at the UK Government led Great Exhibition of the North in an exhibition entitled This Way North, which also featured the work of Damien Hirst and David Hockney. In 2010 he was named DaDaFest International Artist of the Year following the simultaneous showing of his work in 17 countries.
Mckeown created large scale outdoor video projections for the 2012 Prometheus Awakes production for Greenwich and Docklands International Festival and Stockton International Riverside Festival with London’s Graeae Theatre and the international outdoor theatre company La Fura dels Baus (Barcelona). As an outdoor specialist, he completed the massive event Cork Ignite (2015) which was supported by Arts and Disability Ireland, Arts Council of Ireland and Cork City Council with partners National Sculpture Factory and Create Ireland. The project represented a culmination of many of his research interests including, large scale complex outdoor projection, theatrical works, soundscapes, and collaborative practice with disabled artists. It was premiered in Cork, Ireland to an audience of around 7000-10,000 as the culminating event for Culture Night Ireland (2015).
Following this work, he produced Trace Elements for the Foundation for Art and Creative Technology (FACT) in Liverpool in 2016 working collaboratively with veterans. Working in St Helens with the collaborative agency Heart of Glass and disability organisation Buzz Hub, he created the large scale outdoor event entitled We Are Still Here which premiered in December 2018 supporting St Helens City Council and its 150-year celebrations.
His work Preserved Memories, commented on the future dystopian use of technology and was exhibited at DOX Centre for Contemporary Art, Prague, CZ and featured internationally in the media, including the UK's Daily Telegraph and Daily Mail and on NewsTalk Radio in Ireland as well as BBC Radio in the UK.
As part of the UK's 14-18-Now WW1 centenary commemorations, McKeown was commissioned to create a motion-captured work entitled Ghosts which was showcased on Channel Four 4OD as well as at the Unlimited Festival at the London South Bank Centre and at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. A further short work, entitled All for Claire became part of the BFI's collection in 2019.
Motion Disabled: Unlimited, a London 2012 Festival project, has been shown nationally including at the South Bank Centre in London, Olympic Torch and Paralympic Torch events and galleries such as, 20-21 Visual Arts Centre in North Lincolnshire and Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art (MIMA).
McKeown holds a PHD and is a Professor at the Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art (MIMA) School of Art and Design, at Teesside University. He is active in the field of disability and art and is a member of the Steering Group for Liberty Festival, The Mayor of London’s free festival celebrating the work of Deaf and disabled artists as well as being a member of Disconsortia, a North East (UK) disabled artist-led consortium. Within education, he is a member of the Council for Higher Education in Art and Design (CHEAD) Research Alliance Strategy Group. With regard to research, he is a member of the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Peer Review College and also a member of the External Advisory Group on Equality Diversity and Inclusion to the UK Governments UK Research and Innovation (UKRI). Separately he is an academic member of the Steering Group for the Diversity in Antarctic Science Initiative (DiASI) - an initiative of the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) and The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO).
Working regionally Simon was an academic member of the first 'Creative Fuse North East' (2016-18) funded by the EU, AHRC and ACE, a project which sought to unlock the potential of the creative, digital and tech sectors to drive innovation and growth of the region’s economy. He is a member of the second iteration of this project.
Additionally, he is a trustee and director of the arts charity, Platform Arts which is based in central Middlesbrough and where he has his art studio. He has previously been a trustee of the Brittle Bone Society charity and the learning disabled theatre company, Mind the Gap.
He has received funding for various projects from the Wellcome Trust, Heritage Lottery Foundation, Arts Council England, Arts and Disability Ireland amongst others.
Mckeown is deafened and has Osteogenesis Imperfecta (Brittle Bones) and has had around 140 breaks in his lifetime.
Prometheus Awakes, Greenwich 2012
As part of the 14-18 Now WW1 comemerations Simon Mckeown’s animation for Channel Four follows disabled veterans moving through a landscape filled with the artefacts and objects of war, as they prepare for a new day.
Mckeown gratefully acknowledges the support and interest shown in his work by Teesside University.