Creative in Residence

The UTS Library Creative in Residence program offers creatives the opportunity to inspire playfulness, provoke curiosity, and encourage engagement with the UTS Library. The program provides the resident the unique opportunity to develop and produce a project that uses the UTS Library as a starting point for its research and realisation.

2024 Vita Cochran

Creative in Residence
1st April, 2024 - 30th September, 2024

We're thrilled to introduce Vita Cochran as our Creative in Residence for 2024. Vita, an artist hailing from Aotearoa and now calling Gadigal land home, brings a wealth of creativity and passion to our space.

Vita will weave enchantment into the fabric of our library, quite literally. Using her renowned hand embroidery skills, Vita will camouflage lifelike moths throughout our space, directly onto the upholstered furniture, and in other nooks and crannies, inviting visitors to explore and discover the beauty in the unexpected. The project will celebrate the wonder and intricacy of these quiet, mysterious and vulnerable creatures – moths.

Vita Cochran combines traditional textile techniques with contemporary forms to engage with the history of domestic crafts and the intersection of decorative art and abstraction. Exhibiting a series of hand-hooked rag rugs titled 'After Paintings' in 2020, Vita reimagined rugs from modernist paintings by hand. She also creates large-scale abstractions from unpicked garment pieces, drawing on the 'wagga' tradition and abstract painting. Known for her hand embroidery skills, Vita exhibited a suite of samplers in 2018, reimagining the tradition as if reworked by twentieth-century women avant-garde artists. Vita also loves to make unique and useful objects and has a bag-making practice spanning two decades.

Beyond ‘eclipsing’ our spaces, Vita is dedicated to engaging with our community. She'll be on-site, sharing her creative process and inviting students to explore their curiosity through hands-on activities and the art of embroidery. Join us on this journey as we delve into Vita's world of art, nature, and curiosity. Stay tuned for updates and be part of the transformative experience!

The artist will be on-site at UTS Library, (most) Mondays and Thursdays from the 8th of April – 10th October 10 am-4 pm. 

2023 Raquel Caballero

Creative in Residence
3rd March, 2023 - 1st September, 2023

Our 2023 Creative in Residence Raquel Caballero created The Totem Towers. They are informed and inspired by the visual imagery found in the Library’s book collection.  

Situated in the Library’s light-filled reading room, they are a celebration of vernacular architecture and the radical aesthetics of the decorative art environments of self-taught artists. As such, Raquel’s work follows a folk tradition of artmaking that is organic, personal, unrestrained, and uncontained by the white cube of the formal gallery.  

Made of papier-mâché using recycled materials and brightly painted, The Totem Towers are monuments to what Raquel calls "hardcore craft" – that is, a worship of, and obsessive dedication to the handmade, using unconventional mediums. By working with papier-mâché, the artist intends to show the endless possibilities of building with economical materials, to create art that’s universal. 

In today’s trend toward cityscapes devoid of colour and a human touch, The Totem Towers are anti-high tech, fun, fanciful follies that transmit joy, and awe triggered by the viewer’s awareness of the cosmic potentials of the imagination. 

Raquel’s practice is rooted in her fascination with the excesses found in popular and folk cultures. She is also inspired by maximalist and amateur aesthetics. Working primarily with papier-mâché, textiles, and recycled materials, she makes objects of reverence that celebrate human-made fantasies and follies with 'traditional crafts'. 

Raquel Caballero is an artist with a thriving studio practice at Our Neon Foe, an Inner West artist-run gallery and studio space. By day Raquel is a Librarian at the Australian, Film, Television & Radio School Library (AFTRS) where she creates mammoth sets from concept to creation to install. Not to mention Raquel also runs a rare books business with her best friend and fellow artist, Emily Hunt, trading in hard-to-find books on the arts, counterculture, and the occult.  

During the residency Raquel will invite students to engage with her creative process, ask them to consider what makes them curious, and help them create their own collage art piece, using UTS Library’s  Special Collections. 

The artist will be on-site at UTS Library, level 7, (most) Fridays from the 3rd of March – the 28th of July 10 am-4 pm. 

2022 Katy B Plummer

Creative in Residence
31st January, 2022 - 3rd September, 2022
UTS Central, Level 7

“UTS Library is a beautiful, functional, highly rational space. I felt like it needed a little bit of friendly haunting, so I called BOOK WITCH into existence.” – Katy B Plummer, 2022 Creative in Residence. 

BOOK WITCH is our friendly Library ghost that wants to be helpful. She invites us to consider that the world is wild and unknowable and that it is constantly speaking to us, offering to bring us into conversations that are intimate, playful and thick with meaning.  

BOOK WITCH uses bibliomancy as her starting point. Bibliomancy is an oracular divining tradition, whereby a seeker opens a sacred text at random, and looks for answers to life’s questions. The cards in this oracle were generated from text found in books borrowed from UTS Library. During the residency, Katy selected books that were most requested by students or that had recently been returned, to create a snapshot of books that the UTS community happened to be using during that time. Katy flicked through these books in a haphazard, intuitive way, looking for phrases that felt like secret messages. She plucked phrases out of chapters, severing them from their contexts, suspending them in paintings, framing them with shapes and images designed to either deepen whatever abstract meanings they might hold. This process resulted in 48 oracle cards and an interactive digital oracle. 

BOOK WITCH is an experimental oracle in digital form, designed to connect us to a dense non-rational web of meaning. You can visit BOOK WITCH in person at the UTS Library (level 7) to access the oracle. 

Katy B Plummer creates work about the phenomenology of resistance and the politics of ghosts. She is excited about the oracular possibilities of chance-based digital technologies and uses cinematic storytelling, anachronistic domestic textile practices and the camp aesthetics of high school theatre to tell complicated stories about being a person in the world. Her work announces that history is a haunted house full of unfinished cycles and unprocessed psychic material. She believes that poetry, horror and witchcraft can be useful strategies to interrupt oppressive systems.  

2021 The Finishing School Collective & Marian Abboud

Creative in Residence
1st January, 2021 - 31st December, 2021

In 2021, our Creative in Residence embarked on a community-led project that investigated and responded to the unique architecture and spaces of our Library. Over and between many lockdowns from 2021-2022 visual artist Marian Abboud and writers Felicity Castagna, Eda Gunaydin and Sheila Ngọc Phạm set out to create a unique, collaborative response to the architecture and space of the UTS Library.

During the residency, Space and Light engaged with students to respond to Library spaces through creative writing workshops. There was also a series of live ‘performances’ which involved Castagna, Gunaydin and Phạm projecting their research and writing process onto large screens as they each wrote an original piece of Creative Nonfiction exploring their response to both being in the place and researching the history of libraries and urban architecture.

In consultation with the writers, sections from the essays were printed on fabric and designed into an installation which saw sentences climb up the large spiralling staircase; sewn into fabrics that fell dramatically between the floors of the UTS Library; and which appeared in smaller form around seats, windows, tables and shelves around the Library. Space and Light explored the significance of UTS Library, its unique architecture and the way people are using it. Read the full essays here

About the artists 

The Finishing School is an arts collective of women writers dedicated to creative excellence and exploration. Based in western Sydney, their work is inspired by and responsive to the communities and concerns of the area and beyond. As a collective they are committed to creating honest stories that create connections, propel conversations and encourage reflection. Felicity Castagna, Eda Gunaydin and Sheila Ngoc Pham are three award winning writers who form part of the Finishing School’s core directorship and who will be representing the collective on this project. 

Marian Abboud is a multi-disciplinary artist who works across various technologies to create projected images that feed into performance, installation and site-specific works. Marian creates complex narratives from engaging with the community to build multi-layered works. Her art seeks to challenge perceptions of the land we inhabit and its complex historical and cultural narratives. The Finishing School and Marian Abboud have considerable experience collaborating together to create research-led installations that are playful, complex and invite audiences to participate in thoughtful and meaningful interactions with art. 

The making of the fabric installation was a collaboration with Afrah Al-hakeem ميكحلا حارفا , Intesar AL-Zuhairi يريهزلا راصتنإ , Lka Aufi يفوع ءاقل and Rafa Radhi يضار افر from The Seed of Hope Collective, a part of Think+DO Tank Foundation.

2020 Cherine Fahd

Creative in Residence
1st January, 2020 - 31st December, 2020

Whispers in the Library was a weekly performance held over August and September 2020 by artist, academic and writer Cherine Fahd, Director of Photography at UTS. Cherine holds a doctorate (PhD) from Monash University, Melbourne and her work has been exhibited and collected by major public institutions in Australia and internationally. Most recently, Cherine was selected for The National 2019: New Australian Art and awarded a residency at The Clothing Store, both through Carriageworks.

Whispers in the Library responded to the scholarly and contemplative environment of the Reading Room. The artist, Cherine Fahd, inhabited a designated desk space to annotate her musings on love, fear, and life. Visitors were invited to take a reflection that speaks to them, insert it into a Library book, and return it to circulation until it eventually finds its receiver.

In a time of increased estrangement from one another, emphasised by the past months of isolation, it sometimes helps to be reminded of our shared existence and connectivity. Cherine’s performance sought to provoke these reminders by creating moments of connection and recognition between us. Moments of compassion in which a person carefully selects a special thought for a stranger. Moments of warmth in which the unbeknownst reader finds a message of love or care. These potential moments will circulate through time and collection, until forces of fate connect message to receiver - a tangible message, considered and handwritten; an anonymous keepsake, carefully inserted into a knowing book.


2019 Alexandra Crosby and Ilaria Vanni

Creative in Residence
1st January, 2019 - 31st December, 2019
UTS Library Haymarket

Alexandra Crosby and Ilaria Vanni, from the research studio Mapping Edges, created The Planty Atlas of UTS during their residency. The socially engaged creative project consisted of a live plant installation alongside a multidisciplinary bookshelf on selected plants, a seed balls workshop and three mapping walks around the UTS precinct. The Planty Atlas of UTS asks: how does our understanding of cultural, environmental, and social histories and futures of place change if we let ourselves be guided by plants?

In preparation for the Library’s move to UTS Central in November 2019, our residents grew plants onsite, to then green our new spaces of the Library. The plants from the installation now live happily in study spaces throughout UTS Central.

The mapping walks aimed to create new, plant inspired pathways around the precinct and produce mapping counterpoints that yield different and relational understandings of everyday places around the library buildings. The recorded map route along with the project findings were published in The Planty Atlas of UTS, a limited edition risograph printed map, which can be digitally accessed through OPUS - UTS's institutional repository. The special edition of The Planty Atlas of UTS can be viewed in the Library’s Special Collections.

The Walks

Walk 1: Observation, involved different forms of sensing and note taking such as writing, photographs, drawings, and maps generated through commonly used apps. This first walk helped understand the landscape and its micro ecosystems.

Walk 2: Interaction, reconfigured the circulation of seeds made in the seed ball workshop and during the walk participants ‘seed bomb’ the edges of streets and green spaces on campus.

Walk 3: Accept feedback, retraced the steps of previous walks to document (through photography, notetaking and drawing) the evolution, or disappearance, success or failure of the seeds scattered in walk two.
Mapping Edges is an ongoing project, to join the conversation use #mappingedges and post your maps and photos of green encounters in the precinct.

2018 Natalya Hughes

Creative in Residence
1st January, 2018 - 31st December, 2018
UTS Library Haymarket

Natalya Hughes is an academic and artist who specialises in painting, digital media, and installation. Natalya began lecturing at UTS in 2012 and directed the Bachelor of Design in Photography program from 2015 to 2018.

Natalya’s residency at the UTS Library revolved around the ‘sleep zone’ under the rear stairs of the Library in the old Haymarket building. Natalya had always been intrigued by this unusual space and its generally male dominated gender demographic. Her re-imagining of the space incorporated decorative components including wallpaper, carpet, and bean bags with the aim of creating a more inclusive resting area. The watercolour motifs that feature in the designs of the wallpaper and bean bags are things known to be soporific (to cause sleepiness).

Safe Sopor used décor to activate a space previously overlooked and in doing so, acknowledged both the need for a safe sleep space at UTS Library and the student “sleepers” who used this space on a regular basis.

In addition to the installation, Natalya collaborated with Respect.Now.Always to create a limited edition cushion titled Bless This Yes/Hear This No.

“Bless This Yes/ Hear This No was motivated by a desire to foreground the voice of an individual whose consent is being sought or ignored. While education around the importance of consent often reads as a message to, I wanted my design to work as a message from. My practice is often concerned with how, culturally, we devalue the contributions of women. We also are inclined to undermine their voices. In Bless This Yes/Hear This No I’ve made an object of décor – associated as it is with femininity, domesticity and the everyday – that speaks loudly and with certainty. A yes should be met with gratitude and joy. A no should be respected and honoured with appropriate action” – Natalya Hughes.

2017 Timo Rissanen

Creative in Residence
1st January, 2017 - 31st December, 2017
UTS Library Haymarket

Timo Rissanen is an educator, artist, and designer whose work centres on fashion, sustainability, and communication. Timo completed his undergraduate and postgraduate study with UTS, graduating with a practice-based PhD on zero waste fashion design from the School of Design in 2013. In 2019, he became the Associate Professor of Fashion Design and Sustainability at Parsons School of Design, New York.

Throughout his residency, Timo considered the relationships between people, time, and the spaces they inhabit. For nine weeks he was situated at the base of the central Library stairwell (in the old Haymarket building) where he observed and interviewed Library staff and students.

The conversations were a conscious act in challenging people to think about a future that exceeds their lifespan, provoking ideas on sustainability and responsibility in our current lifestyles. His transcriptions of the conversations, ideas and stories through cross-stitch – a deliberately slow action – were a deep reflection on the Library as much more than a place, but as a community, eventuating in a poetic, hand-stitched letter to the future UTS Library. Letter to the Library can be viewed on level 8 of the UTS Library.

2016 Adam Goodrum

Creative in Residence
1st January, 2016 - 31st December, 2016
UTS Library Haymarket

Adam Goodrum studied Industrial Design at UTS. He is both a lecturer and member of the technical workshop team within the faculty of Design, Architecture and Building. Adam’s designs have been collected by national and international institutions and he has worked with companies including Veuve Clicquot and Alessi and Cappellini. Adam has won many awards throughout his career including the 'Young Designer of the Year Award' and the prestigious ‘Bombay Sapphire Design Award’.

Focusing on furniture, product and interior design, Adam’s work unifies functionality, aesthetics and a fascination for movement, geometry, and bold colour. During Adam’s residency for UTS Library, he considered how daily visitors might engage with design objects within the Library. Adam’s residency focussed on furniture design for the UTS Future Library, now UTS Central, as a launch point.

Adam designed the Molloy chair for the Reading Room using traditional wood-working techniques. Passionate about the manufacture of quality design in Australia, Adam ensured the chairs were handmade in Australia by a local maker. The Molloy chair features fluid detailing inspired by a rare act of nature, the meeting of two rivers to form the Molloy River in Western Australia – a place where Adam and his family hand-built a holiday home. The soft rounded joints are realised by utilising the only multi-axis c’n’c cutter in Australia.

“It is a challenging pleasure to design a ‘new’ chair, I am always excited by the opportunity and at the same time overwhelmed by the rigorous and extensive process it entails to bring into fruition a new object. For each design I endeavour to fulfil my personal aims to achieve uniqueness, structural and ergonomically sound structure, integrity, a product sympathetic to the environment, engaging local makers, to enhance and consider the environment where it will be housed and to create functional objects with a personality.” – Adam Goodrum

Design First - Molloy Chair from Cult Design on Vimeo.

2015 Zoë Sadokierski

Creative in Residence
1st January, 2015 - 31st December, 2015
UTS Library Haymarket

Zoë Sadokierski is an award-winning book designer, writer, and senior lecturer at the UTS School of Design, where she runs a studio investigating the evolution of books in the digital age and narrative approaches to ecological communication. Her books and works on paper are held in the collections of the National Library of Australia, the State Library of NSW, and the State Library of Victoria.

The aim of Zoë’s residency, titled The Book Is…, was to come to a clearer understanding of what a book is. At a time when ‘books’ can be accessed via clouds, talk to us (in a voice of our choice), show us videos and demand that we interact with them, this is a more complicated question than it may first seem.

During the residency, Zoë made a series of self-published books, (Another Book) After Ed-Werd Rew-Shay, Two Essays on Books: Republished from the internet and edited and designed the festival anthology live, on-site during the Sydney Writers’ Festival, producing The Book of Days: An illustrated anthology from the 2015 Sydney Writers Festival. She also created two concertina artworks, viewable in the Library, titled Seventeen Views From the Trans-Mongolian and Twentysix Views From the 7 Train, which are a homage to Edward Ruscha's artist book Twentysix Gasoline Stations, 1963.