Kay Mullenger

I’m inspired by the natural world and the way the elements change and shape our environment - from the play of light on wet river-bed mud to the way the sea shapes our ever-changing coast.  I’m always finding something interesting or inspiring to add to the growing archive of photographs that form part of my visual research.

Working mostly in 3D mixed media, I seek a connection with the viewer: my most recent body of work relates to the stages of grief and includes interactive sensors.  Other works include a multi-panel study of the power of the sea’s effect on partly submerged, periodically re-emerging Dutch groynes on the Norfolk coast.

Materials such as wood, sawdust, paper pulp and rusty nails are just some that I’ve recently used, alongside stitch and textile.  Free-machine embroidery is a favourite technique, but as my current work is still developing at the time of writing this, I’m feeling excited to explore what materials and methods I’ll use to bring the next body of work to life.


The Alchemy of Grief is based on states or stages of grieving.  These six three-dimensional, interactive pieces reflect my experience of grief through mixed media, using a range of materials and methods, including lights and motion sensors.

I invite the viewer to wave at the motion sensors to set them off so that the integral lights come on, echoing the triggering of emotions and the pain of loss in its many forms and sources.

My inspiration came from reading about a doctor describing grief by sketching a gradually shrinking ball in a box containing a ‘pain button’ that gets triggered less over time. The ball hits the button less often and more randomly as it shrinks, but the pain can still be intense.  I love the way this illustrates how feelings surrounding loss can change over time and are unpredictable.

In this work, my exploration of grief is intended to acknowledge not only the pain of loss, but that grief is a necessary part of a healing and transformative process.