Kelly Cumberland

Kelly Cumberland


I am an artist, PhD practice-led researcher and an academic, previously BA (Hons) Fine Art Course Leader at Leeds Arts University, 2017-2022 and lecturing since 2001.

During my Masters Degree I pioneered the first collaboration between the microbiology, radiology and fine art departments at Leeds Metropolitan University and, more recently, I engaged in a six-month residency at St James’s hospital, Leeds, with the Haematological Malignancy Diagnostic Services, culminating in an exhibition in the Atrium Gallery at St James's Hospital.

As a practicing artist I exhibit my work both nationally and internationally. Recent group and solo exhibitions include; ‘Vestigium Pulvis,’ Leeds Arts University, 2022; ‘Cuits [fenestram],’ Mercado Negro, Cholula, Mexico, 2021; ‘Tracing Entropy,’ Foyer Gallery, University of Leeds, 2020; ‘Biomorfica,’ Liliput Galeria Experimental, Puebla, Mexico, 2019; Vision of Science Art Award, The Edge Gallery, Bath, 2018 & 2020; ‘Making Research,’ Leeds Arts University, Blenheim Walk, 2018; ‘Manual,’ ABA ART LAB, La Nit de l’Art International Programme, Palma de Mallorca, 2013 & 2016.

Research interests

Expanded definitions of drawing are central to my practice research, with a specific focus on how medical and scientific methodologies and approaches can influence material choices, techniques, aesthetics and processes. Intrinsic to this is the concept of making the invisible visible through expanded drawing practices.

This research explores the nature of seriality and how the support is an intrinsic part of the drawing. Questioning when a drawing becomes object and demonstrating how something seemingly delicate and insubstantial can overwhelm its environment, drawings represent the paradoxical fragility and strength of microbiological structures. Through employing 'tracing' and sequential methods of reproduction, the work plays host to its own systems of entropy and syntropy, reflecting spatial and cognitive thinking. 

Biomorphic elements reference naturally occurring patterns reminiscent of nature and living organisms. The repetitive systematic methods, linking viral and cellular referents, are often transposed from two-dimensional to three-dimensional forms, moving into expanded drawing. Working in sequence, the components initially appear identical, however, the process ensures each work is unique, retaining the possibility for expansion and modification.

Often site responsive, the work reveals how drawing is expanded through space, place, form, process, materials and meaning. Reflecting and magnify through the medium, blurring and expanding the edges, a visual dialogue is created with the surroundings, and the complex relationships between repetition, reproduction and difference manifest as artistic practice. Continuous addition and removal, (re)production and reduction result in coherent bodies of structural variations as a record of time and the cycle of microscopic life.

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Instagram - @kelly_cumberland

Twitter - @kellycumberland


  • 2015 Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
  • 2002, Teaching in Post-Compulsory Education and Training, University of Bradford
  • 1998, MA Fine Art, Leeds Metropolitan University