FieldJournal by Kim McDermottroe is a collection of sketches, illustrations and animated sequences, on display from now until August 27.
Kim is autistic and experiences pareidolia, which means she sees faces in everyday objects perhaps in a piece of wood, a mark on a path or a cloud.
In these moments Kim finds her characters. Her illustrations don’t aim for realism, but are a starting point. The exhibition features three of these characters: a toadstool, a fish and the Easter Bunny, developed from sketch to puppet.
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The images are hung using coat hangers, vintage metal clips and a Victorian vintage trouser press.
Billingham-born Kim graduated with a degree in design craft for the entertainment industry at the Northern School of Art in 2002, before becoming a freelance creative director, producing props and costumes for local theatres and puppets for regional and national arts organisations.
She said: “The exhibition is about difference and vulnerability. The hybrid and weirdos, the overlooked and discounted become central, taking up space, my prints curling off the walls.”
“In a way FieldJournal is autobiographical. I’ve never felt I fit in. Yet, suddenly, it’s my own name on the wall and through the characters I am also taking up space. I am in good company with them.
“It’s a bit of a shock to see my name above the exhibition, but I’m proud to open up my FieldJournal sketchbook and say ‘this is what’s in my head.
"I think my autism helps me to focus, but perhaps it can also prevent me from being able to communicate sometimes, or from pushing myself into networking.”
In 2021, she received a grant from Arts Council England which allowed her to develop FieldJournal. What started as a six page Necronomicon (Book of the Dead) book of illustrations for a local short film, grew to 100 pages.
Matt Blyth, audience development officer at Arts Centre Washington, said: “This is a truly amazing exhibition and we’ve never had anything like Kim’s work here before. What she’s produced is truly outstanding and I would urge people to pop along to appreciate her talent.”