Q&A with artist and supporter Kate Daudy


Kate Daudy is a conceptual artist best known for her written interventions and large-scale outdoor sculptures. She has recently been made a Fellow of Columbia University, USA. She lives and works off the Portobello Road. Daudy is a longstanding supporter of the Rugby Portobello Trust.


Can you tell me when and how you first came across the RPT?

Kate Daudy (KD): Ten years ago, Gill Fitzhugh [co-founder of modern-day The RPT] very kindly tried to find me a place in which to build my work “Am I My Brother’s Keeper?”. My studio is under the Westway, a short walk from you, so this is very much my community and I love it. I have been more than happy to donate some of my art works every year over the past fifteen years.

I am fortunate that my work is valuable in monetary terms, which makes it something worth giving away.  With the help of Federica Marchetti, I donate sometimes very large and costly works as one part of a ‘swap’, finalised by the collector’s pledge to RPT.

'Am I My Brother's Keeper

'Am I My Brother's Keeper' at Saint Paul's Cathedral, 2018


What makes you so committed to this involvement in your local area?

KD: I was deeply shocked by some of the things that I saw in the Middle East, not just visiting refugee camps but also spending time in a centre for the rehabilitation of torture victims, and a hospital for the war wounded. I believe that we are given two hands: one to take care of ourselves and the other for helping others. I was heartbroken by what I saw. I could not sleep well for four years, thinking about how unfair the world is and wondering what I could do to make a difference.

I was talking to a very pragmatic friend about how I wanted to go and work in a hospital. And, of course, I would only have been able to sweep the floor or do the laundry. She said, “Doing what?”, and instead suggested that “The best way to help others is to do what you are best at.” Clearly my work is more useful to others than my slightly uselessly trying to help competent people do their job.


So, supporting different communities is an important part of your practice?

KD: Yes. Currently, there are 114 million refugees across the world, so this is a very pressing aspect of my practice. I support refugees through my work with the UNHCR and by donating work. In a similar vein, I make works to give to a ceramic auction FiredUp4 each year, with the proceeds going towards the charity KidsZone. I have also given some of my work to London Air Ambulance in a similar manner, to generate proceeds which then contribute towards their important work.

Beyond these donations and projects, I previously worked with my friend Itab Azzam on her project for the internally displaced inside Syria. I also participated in a women’s prison project in Palermo Sicily, when I was there for Manifesta, and have played a similar role in many other community-oriented projects in Manchester. I support ecological projects like the LGT Sustainable Fashion Project, and Craig Cohon’s Walk It Back project, but this is really a sort of Trojan horse to tell people about the connection between climate change and population movement.

Citywide Participatory Performance during Manifesta, Palermo 2020

Citywide Participatory Performance during Manifesta, Palermo 2020


What about the environment?

KD: At the core of my practice was the use of felt, which is a material reclaimed from the rubbish of the fabric industry. I use this material for a variety of reasons. The first is that it symbolises redemption, and the second is that it is a reclaimed material. I make my work out of reclaimed or ethically sourced materials- this commitment has always been present in my practice, but it manifests itself in various ways. For example, the Yorkshire Sculpture Park once gave me the great honour of making work out some of Antony Caro’s leftover steel. They gave me parts of the old organ casing from the chapel to make stands. That felt like such an honour as my work was not only understood but it was considered to be worthy of that privilege.

Yorkshire Sculpture Park: P O R T A L  Still from 'Clear Blue Skies' at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC

Yorkshire Sculpture Park: P O R T A L (image 1) and still from from 'Clear Blue Skies' at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC (image 2).


You are doing a large-scale project of interventions in May in London in May. Where will your artworks appear?

KD: Yes, I will be launching a project in collaboration with the UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, on 9 May 2024. It is called ‘THE SEEDS OF HOPE’ and it will be a large-scale project highlighting the oneness of humanity and refugees’ resilience through art and stories. Just as seeds blown by the wind can flower under any circumstances, refugees with the right support and compassion can thrive. The project will include multimedia content, with supporting activities.

The project was inspired by my observations of flowers and plants grown in refugee camps from seeds that people took with them when fleeing their homes.

Some of the locations in London will include Kings Cross, the Migration Museum, the Saatchi Gallery, Mulberry School Whitechapel, and Kindred Studios. Outside of London, artworks from this project can also be seen in Exbury Gardens, Oxford’s Pitt Rivers Museum and Bodleian Library, as well as across various Oxford and Cambridge colleges.




28th March 2024