Accessible Arts: ArtScreen – Profiling 2023 Artists Guy Morgan And Sofya Gollan

Guy Morgan and Sofya Gollan
Our eclectic team of writers from around Australia – and a couple beyond – with decades of combined experience and interest in all fields.

New South Wales arts and disability organisation Accessible Arts presents opportunities for people with disability or who are d/Deaf to develop professional careers in the arts.

ArtScreen is a programme supporting video artists to develop artworks to be screened at the Museum Of Contemporary Art (MCA) (Sydney), in celebration of International Day Of People With Disability. The 2023 event follows three successful years empowering artists.

In 2023, artists Guy Morgan and Sofya Gollan have been selected to create new works, exploring themes of identity, access, and social connectedness.

Guy Morgan's art practice is eclectic, but he's best known for his portraiture work. He's been a finalist for the Archibald Prize twice, and he currently teaches painting as part of the Pine Street Creative Tutor Panel for City of Sydney.

Sofya Gollan is a writer, director, and award-winning filmmaker, best known for being on 'Play School' and normalising disability on screen well before it was recognised as essential representation. Her work is informed by the experience of the outsider.

We sat down with the artists to learn more about what they'll be presenting as part of ArtScreen in 2023.


Tell us a bit about what your work will present to audiences.
This will be an exploration of the senses that affect my life most – hearing and sight. I want to simulate a threshold crossing of the sensation of hearing to no hearing at all, and how sight overrides both. Wearing a cochlear implant means I am both profoundly Deaf and hearing to a great degree at the same time. It’s a duality I switch between on a daily basis. I also wanted to move away from the language-centred discourse of being Deaf, how language deprivation presents lingering barriers for most if not all Deaf people. I want this to be an exploration of how silence is embodied, and how the cochlear enlarges experience with sound free of cultural positive negative biases.

What has inspired you to go in this direction with the video artwork?
Working with collaborators Fausto Brusalimo, James P Brown, Cordeilia Beresford and Geordie Anderson was one of the driving forces of pulling together this project – I have worked with all of them previously and knew they would each bring their own experience and passions to the concept. When I saw what Fausto was doing with infrared motion capture and his coding, I was fascinated how Auslan could still be legible in that format even though detail and colour has been stripped away. It gave rise to more ideas around embodiment and how I could show a different state of being visually. And it also looks super cool!

What does it mean to have been chosen as part of this year’s ArtScreen?
I'm really thrilled to be part of Accessible Arts and MCA's yearly tradition of screening commissioned films, and the opportunity to say I have had my films screened at the MCA is amazing. It’s a really amazing opportunity to present an experimental idea around my daily lived experience and elevate it into an art experience.

How did you get involved?
I’ve been to all of the previous ArtScreen events and loved the work that has been commissioned to date. So seeing the callout for applications I knew I had to give it a go.

What’s next for you?
After this film I want to develop a bigger scale work that involves both Hearing and Deaf attention and embodiment. I have a few ideas around this feeling of being Deaf and hearing that could be expanded. I am working on narrative works for TV and film as well, drawing on previous experiences to tell Deaf stories as I believe that we should be the architect of Deaf stories and experiences, not consultant bystanders. There are so many stories in the community that are by turns beautiful and horrifying, that illustrate the humanity of a little understood sensory disability and culture.


What did you set out to achieve with your work?
To expand my practice into filmmaking. I wanted to work with and provide a platform for at least 10 artists living with disability to contribute and have their thoughts recorded as short responses to pointed questions in an unusual, interesting way. I wanted the video to promote both disability arts in general and individual members of the community using their own words.

What sorts of themes does your ArtScreen submission entail?
I see the video’s content to be powerful, informative and genuine. My intention is to make the aesthetics original and engaging with the video’s messaging to become part of a wider programme promoting inclusion and greater accessibility to the arts for those living with a disability (both artists and audiences).

How did you get involved with ArtScreen?
I subscribe to Accessible Arts' e- newsletter, and the first item was a callout for ArtScreen 2023. My submission was titled ‘Written with a finger on a steamed-up window'.

What do you love most about creating work such as this?
1. Collaborating with generous, creative and enthusiastic people
2. Being totally focused on producing the best possible outcome
3. Using every creative ‘bone in my body’
4. Widening my knowledge and being busy
5. Having fun

What advice would you have for aspiring artists who are looking to make a career out of their passion?
Follow your passion, don’t take 'no' for an answer. If you make it happen, you’ll never 'work' a day in your life.

What’s next for you?
I have a solo show at M16 Gallery in Canberra in March-April next year, where I’ll be showing works from my ‘Evaporation series’ including paintings and video works that take inspiration from the ephemeral nature of the creative process, from initial ideas and messaging to actualisation, then to audience consumption. Like street art, stuff appears, then disappears. . . Was the message worth remembering?

ArtScreen is on at Museum Of Contemporary Art (Sydney) 1-3 December.

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