Sue Austin

Multimedia, performance & installation artist


360 Degrees - A New Angle on Access Research Results Published

Freewheeling has now published their findings from the NESTA-funded Digital R&D project ‘360 Degrees: A New Angle On Access’ to facilitate the next generation of film-makers exploring 360 degree film and projection.

The use of 360º immersive technology presents a major opportunity for arts organisations to reach out to new audiences and enhance the audience experience. In particular, it provides a means by which disabled people who face barriers in terms of leaving the home or travelling to large art venues can access art. However, the delivery of 360º technology in the past has required considerable expense and expertise, which has tended to put it out of reach of most community arts venues. In light of these barriers, the project sought to develop and test affordable recording and display technologies for taking 360º art experiences into both the home and into small arts, community and educational venues.

The research report highlights findings from exhibition audiences, user-generated content workshops, the project team and the home-based experience participants.  In summary, the project identified how immersive systems could be used to reach out to potential art audiences who may have previously been excluded. It also found an additional range of potential applications for 360º technology, including in the spheres of education, health and tourism.

Also being published is a user guide, which includes practical filming, editing and projection tips, instructions for installing and using the two projection rigs available from Freewheeling, and advice on shooting underwater with sensitive equipment as well as insight into the team’s process throughout the project.

It is hoped that individual artists and organisations will find these resources inspiring and lead to even more exciting experiments and experiences in 360, particularly those focussed on creating accessible, inclusive arts and film experiences for excluded or marginalised audiences.

Freewheeling would like to thank The Digital R&D Fund for the Arts and our research partners SERIO and Affinity at Plymouth University, Living Option Devon, commissioned artists Sue Austin and Kevin Clifford, and Dan Burton of 360 Eyecam for their invaluable support in this work.

Read the full report here:

Posted by Trish Wheatley, 10 November 2015

Last modified by Alice Holland, 10 November 2015

Exhibition Dates announced for '360 Degrees: A New Angle on Access': Plymouth 15th -17th July 2015.

Image - 20150413_141313_resized.jpg


Internationally acclaimed artist Sue Austin brings “Immersed in 360” Exhibition, Talks and Workshops to Plymouth: 15 - 17 April July 2015


Following over 150million views of her signature underwater wheelchair performance and powerful TED talk, internationally acclaimed artist and Plymouth University alumni Sue Austin curates new work, inviting you to become ‘Immersed in 360’ this summer.

This research exhibition features dance and performance on video by Kevin Clifford and Sue Austin, creating a fully immersive audience experience using Oculus VR headsets and projection onto stunning, ethereal 360 degree installations.

“I’m completely passionate about 360 imagery because it’s a new aesthetic, it’s very powerful,” says Austin. “But I also realise that the costs make it inaccessible to most, so this project is specifically about developing 360 in a way that’s useable and affordable for the arts sector and beyond.”

Providing inspiring art experiences to the viewer that are both exciting and meditative, the project has been supported by the Digital R&D Fund for the Arts and is presented through portable 360° interactive headsets plus affordable, transportable 360° installations. ‘Immersed in 360’ is an exhibition of prototypes which will also research home and community based audiences currently excluded from accessing arts venues due to disabling physical, psychological, and financial barriers.

Visitors are encouraged to participate in the research, particularly on the Wednesday when members of the SERIO research team, based at Plymouth University will be there to ask for responses from people about their experiences of the exhibition.

Venue: Room 307-308 Roland Levinsky Building, Cobourg St, Plymouth PL4 8AY

Exhibition: 10.00 – 18.00: 15 - 17 April July 2015: (closing at 4pm on 15th July): Free of charge

Open View and Artist Talk: 15th July: 18.00 - 20.00: Free of charge, donations welcome.

Immersed in 360 workshop

Get your hands on the latest 360º filmmaking equipment to capture, edit and view a short 360º film in this free one day workshop. AFFINITY with Plymouth University is partnering with artist Sue Austin and Freewheeling to deliver this unique opportunity, aimed at filmmakers, artists, venue programmers and producers. Limited spaces, booking essential.

Workshop Venue: Roland Levinsky Building, Cobourg St, Plymouth PL4 8AY:TBC

10.00 to 17.00: 15th July 2015 2015: over 16 years, Free of charge

Register for tickets at

The Digital R&D Fund for the Arts is run by Nesta, Arts Council England and the Arts and Humanities Research Council. The £7million fund supports research and development projects that use digital technology to enhance arts audience reach and/or explore new business models.

Sue Austin is available for interview: for further details or any queries please contact: 

Andrea Frankham-Hughes: Communications and Project Manager.

07971 058336


Posted by Andrea Frankham-Hughes, 6 July 2015

Last modified by Andrea Frankham-Hughes, 6 July 2015

Exhibition Dates announced for '360 Degrees: A New Angle on Access'

Dark space with tropical underwater environment projected onto strips of paper suspended in a pentagonal shape.

The Exhibitions will be at The Plough Torrington 28 - 30 April & Salisbury Arts Centre 5 - 7th May. Come along to experience the latest 360 technology for yourself and help shape the future of digital technology. Films from Sue Austin and Kevin Clifford will be shown on Oculus Rift Virtual Reality headsets and projected onto large installations. Funded by the Digital R&D for the Arts, there will also be evening artists talks with 360 film screenings & free one day workshops.

Posted by Andrea Frankham-Hughes, 23 March 2015

Last modified by Andrea Frankham-Hughes, 23 March 2015

The Digital R&D fund for the Arts & Sues ambitions to fly are examined in an article on the a-n website

Screenshot of a-n article

Sue has been featured in a recent a-n article about her journey from the underwater wheelchair, her mission to create and fly a flying wheelchair, and the digital R&D Fund For the Arts project 360: A New Angle on access. To read the article click here  To see more about her flying wheelchair project funded by The Space & Unlimited click here

Posted by Andrea Frankham-Hughes, 13 March 2015

Last modified by Andrea Frankham-Hughes, 13 March 2015

Sue Austin to talk at SEND: 4th March in Barnstable, North Devon.

Image - send_logo.jpg

Making Our Own Story :SEND Network Meeting March 4th 2015 from 7.30 to 10.00pm at Portmore Golf Park, near Barnstaple, North Devon.

Sue will be talking to Social Enterprise North Devon.

There will be plenty of opportunity to network and explore new ideas and opportunities for your area of interest, business or current initiatives. 

Tea and coffee will be available.

Tickets:  Up to 100 spaces are available for this event in order to ensure your free place please - we strongly recommend that you book as we're expecting demand to be high for this event.

SEND was successfully launched on Thursday November 20th 2014.  This new network has been set-up to create opportunities for North Devon people and enterprises who are already working in social enterprise or who are interested in becoming involved in this growing sector.  The network is free and open to anyone - whether you're running an existing social enterprise, are a budding social entrepreneur, support social enterprises or are interested in taking business beyond profit – this event and network are for you. 

Posted by Andrea Frankham-Hughes, 2 March 2015

Last modified by Andrea Frankham-Hughes, 2 March 2015

Sue gives a talk at the opening of her Exhibition at the European Parliament for International Day of Persons with Disabilities

Sue sits in front of her artwork, shaking hands with EU Vice President Dimitrios Papadimoulis.

Sue was invited by the Equality and Diversity Unit to exhibit her work and give a talk at the European Parliament in Brussels to celebrate the International Day of Persons with Disabilities on 3rd December. The opening was attended by Dimitrios Papadimoulis, Vice-President and Chair of the High-level Group on Gender Equality and Diversity, Alberto Rossetti, Head of the Equality and Diversity Unit and other European Parliament dignitaries and UK MEPs. The exhibition ran for 10 days and was well received by the thousands of people who saw the images of the underwater wheelchair in the Altiero Spinelli Building.

Posted by Andrea Frankham-Hughes, 3 December 2014

Last modified by Andrea Frankham-Hughes, 8 January 2015

The Freewheeling Team return to Camel Diving to film experimental 360 degree footage

Sue and the Freewheeling Team were excited to return to Camel Diving, Sharm-el-Sheik in Egypt. Having collaborated with Camel before we were happy to hook up again with Camel Dive specialists and Freewheeling Egypt Team members Cath Bates and Tamer Salman. The trip was part of the Digital R & D funded research into two different camera sytems to shoot 360 degree footage-the Eyemirror GoPro single lens system and the 8 GoPro camera rig developed by ICCI Plymouth. The trip was a great success and footage is now being edited ahead of three 360 degree exhibitions to be held in the Southwest of England in 2015

Posted by Andrea Frankham-Hughes, 11 November 2014

Last modified by Andrea Frankham-Hughes, 8 January 2015

Sue is featured on the front cover of Finnish Magazine 'Tukilinja'

Image - Tukilinja_cover.jpg

Sue has been featured on the front cover of Finnish Disability Magazine 'Tukilinja'. Journalist Ritta Skytt wrote the article - the first to be published in Finnish, and says that it has received very positive feedback

Posted by Andrea Frankham-Hughes, 16 October 2014

Last modified by Andrea Frankham-Hughes, 16 October 2014

Funding success for 360 Degrees - A New Angle on Access

Image - photo_3.JPG

A partnership led by Freewheeling has been awarded £125,000 to make immersive art experiences accessible for all.

The pioneering partnership has been awarded funding to make the arts available to people whose physical disabilities may have prevented them from engaging with it in the past.
360 Degrees – A New Angle on Access is the latest initiative from artist Sue Austin and aims to use innovative digital technology to take art into community venues, and even people’s homes.

The collaboration will see the Plymouth University Fine Art graduate working alongside University organisations SERIO and ICCI, as well as Eye Mirror and Living Options Devon, and has now secured almost £125,000 in funding from the Digital R&D Fund for the Arts. Run by Nesta, Arts Council England and the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the £7million fund supports research and development projects that use digital technology to enhance arts audience reach and/or explore new business models.

Sue Austin is best known for her performances in a powered underwater wheelchair, which have been seen by an estimated 150million people worldwide. Through her organisation Freewheeling, she will be the director and lead artist for the project, and said: “It is a great thrill and privilege that '360 Degrees – A New Angle on Access' has been selected for funding by the Digital R&D Fund for the Arts, and we are excited to be continuing our ten-year association with Plymouth University. Through that partnership, and our link-up with Living Options Devon and Eye Mirror, we hope to make the joys of immersive 360° imagery available to the wider arts sector and beyond and develop a new agenda for Access to the Arts in the South West.”


The main aim of 360 Degrees – A New Angle on Access will be to produce a commercially viable, robust system of 360° recording, editing and display technologies that can be easily adopted by creative practitioners in the arts and other sectors.


Through the use of portable headsets, as developed by Eye Mirror, multi-directional sound and transportable installations will be made available to small arts, community and educational venues, and even homes. The resulting system will feature live streaming capabilities, with the project also exploring the potential application of 360° user-generated content to enhance audience participation.

Plymouth University’s ICCI (Innovation for the Creative and Cultural Industries) will be supporting development and application of the new and emerging 360° immersive technologies, also providing creative workshops for artists, film makers and members of the public.

SERIO will be undertaking research to help evaluate and understand the impact of inclusive arts, particularly the impact of audience engagement in the home and community, and the findings will be openly to inform other arts organisations’ digital strategies and create potential for more inclusive arts.

Eye-Mirror, a global optical lens company whose European base is near Exeter, will act as the project’s technology partner and have created a new single camera system for the capturing of 360° imagery.

David Hotchkiss, Centre Manager of ICCI, said: “ICCI has been involved with Susan's creative activities for a number of years, including helping her showcase her underwater wheelchair to a wider audience during the 2012 Cultural Olympiad. We are very excited by the opportunity to collaborate with her on the Digital R&D Fund for the Arts project, which has total synergy with our recent 360°creative activities and immersive presentation environment research.”

Allice Hocking, the Head of SERIO, said: “We are really excited to be undertaking research that is at the cutting edge of technology and art and will spark interest in more inclusive art practices. We’re committed to openly sharing the research as well as working closely with Living Options Devon and Freewheeling to share knowledge and expertise.”


Posted by Andrea Frankham-Hughes, 16 October 2014

Last modified by Andrea Frankham-Hughes, 16 October 2014

First International Performance of the Underwater Wheelchair at German Festival

Sue and the Freewheeling Team where priviledged to be invited to Mainz in Germany for the first International Performance of the underwater wheelchair. This was part of the Grenzenlos Kultur integrated Theatre Festival. Two performances were held at the Mainz Swimming pool and were well received by the audiences and covered on two German TV stations.

Posted by Andrea Frankham-Hughes, 14 September 2014

Last modified by Andrea Frankham-Hughes, 8 January 2015

Sue is commissioned by The Space and Unlimited to create new artworks

Screenshot of The Space website featuring a picture of Sue in the underwater wheelchair, flying over coral; Flyig a parakit and a view of the French mountains where she learned to fly

Sue has received a commision from 'The Space' and 'Unlimited' to produce a new series of artworks documenting her journey to create a new Flying Wheelchair. The first of the films is a documentary of her journey to learn to fly and sometimes makes uncomfortable viewing, as she overcomes personal challenges on her first 'Fledgling Flights'

Posted by Andrea Frankham-Hughes, 1 September 2014

Last modified by Andrea Frankham-Hughes, 8 January 2015

Sue speaks at Monterey Bay Aquarium

Sue is pictured in front of one of the large aquarium tanks with 5 members of the aquarium team including wheelchair user Marv and his assistance dog.

Sue's trip to the United States was funded by the Arts Council International Artist Development Fund and Plymouth University. She was priviledged to be invited to speak at Monterey Bay Aquarium in California and is pictured here with their Diving Team.

Posted by Andrea Frankham-Hughes, 9 December 2013

Last modified by Andrea Frankham-Hughes, 14 February 2014

Trish Wheatley's Blog of NASA visit.

Sue and Trish are pictured with the Science Applications International Corporation team at NASA. They are in front of a large image of the moon

Trish has been blogging about her recent trip to NASA & America with Sue Austin. Whilst at NASA they met memebers of the Science Applications International Corporation Team. Trish, who is a Director of Disability Arts Online is also Co- Producer for the Freewheeling project and Sue often refers to Trish as 'her second brain!' Keep up to date-

Posted by Andrea Frankham-Hughes, 9 December 2013

Last modified by Andrea Frankham-Hughes, 12 February 2014

Sue is invited to talk at Stanford University, California

Sue, right is pictured with Graham Creasey centre and Nick La Vecchia at the Stanford Spinal injuries unit in Palo Alto. Sue's video of the underwater wheelchair is playing on a large screen in the background

During Sue's trip to TEDMED earlier in 2013, she had the opportunity to meet with Graham Creasey who is Professor of Spinal Cord Medicine at Stanford University. As part of her Californian Journey, Sue was really priviledged to be invited by Graham to talk & show her footage at the Stanford University Spinal Injuries Unit. This was a fantastic opportunity for Sue to share her Artwork & vision of the Freewheeling Project.

Posted by Andrea Frankham-Hughes, 7 December 2013

Last modified by Andrea Frankham-Hughes, 12 February 2014

'Sue in the Blue' image shown at Boston Society of Architects Space Gallery

Sue hangs mid blue water, upside down in the underwater wheelchair wearing a summer dress with her hair trailing in the water

'Sue in the Blue' image is featured in an exhibition hosted by the Boston Society of Architects Space Gallery. RIGHTS OF WAY: Mobility and the City is an educational exhibition, focusing on the various ways that designers, architects, policy makers, and individual citizens contribute to the ongoing project of the city, through an active engagement with our shared spaces of movement. The exhibition runs from 6th December 2013 to 26th May 2014

Posted by Andrea Frankham-Hughes, 6 December 2013

Last modified by Andrea Frankham-Hughes, 8 January 2015

Sue attends the Berkeley Screening of Fixed:The Science/Fiction of Human Enhancement and speaks on the panel

Sue along with the other 8 members of the Fixed panel

Sue & Trishs' trip to America, as part of the Arts Council International Artists Development Fund, moves to California as they are invited to attend the Screening of Fixed at Berkeley Universitys' Ed Roberts Campus. Sue sat on the panel that discussed the issues the documentary raised and was delighted to meet Disabled Artists and Activists. A big thanks to Regan Brashear for all her organising and arranging in addition to her hard work producing & directing the Documentary. Follow the Fixed story at

Posted by Andrea Frankham-Hughes, 6 December 2013

Last modified by Andrea Frankham-Hughes, 12 February 2014

Sue speaks at NASA, as featured by the Houston Chronicle

Sue & Trish travelled to the Johnson Space Centre in Houston, Texas. Sue was invited to speak to NASA Employees and Contractors as part of the Technical Innovation Speaker series. Their trip was covered by the Houston Chronicle

Posted by Andrea Frankham-Hughes, 4 December 2013

Last modified by Andrea Frankham-Hughes, 10 February 2014

Press Release from Plymouth University November 2013

Spectacular underwater performance earns wheelchair artist an invitation to NASA

Friday 29 November 2013

A pioneering performance premiered during the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad is going galactic after its creator was invited to address scientists at NASA.

Plymouth University Fine Art graduate Sue Austin worked with the University and a number of other partners across the country to develop an underwater wheelchair for her piece ‘Creating the Spectacle!’, which she performed as part of Unlimited last summer.

The response to the visually stunning performance was so positive that Sue, currently studying at Plymouth University for a Masters degree in Fine Art, has been invited by NASA to speak at the Johnson Space Centre in Houston, Texas.

The request came after Sue, in the wake of ‘Creating the Spectacle!’, was invited to speak at a TEDxWomen conference in Washington DC, one of a range of international engagements she has undertaken on the back of her performance’s success.

Sue, who lives in North Devon, said: “I never could have imagined how this work would attract people’s attention across the world or that it would lead to so many positive responses about how the work has impacted on people’s lives. It’s such an honour to be invited to these prestigious venues and I’m really excited about the trip and the new creative possibilities and collaborations it could spark.”

Sue will speak as part of NASA’s Innovation Technical Speaker Series, developed as a forum for experts in industry, academia, and government to share their experiences and successes. Speakers, who address an audience of NASA officials and invited guests, have included international leaders from IT and technology firms as well as pioneering global researchers in medicine, science and the arts.

Professor David Coslett, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Plymouth University, said: “Sue Austin's story is a fantastic example of someone who has taken their dream and, despite many obstacles, made it a reality. Her creativity and innovative thinking and her willingness to push the boundaries, are characteristics we look to inspire in our students. Sue is an amazing ambassador who shows just what can be achieved with Plymouth University.”

Following her talk on Wednesday 4th December, and with funding from the Artists’ International Development Fund, a joint initiative from Arts Council England and the British Council, Sue will visit California to attend a screening and post film discussion of "FIXED: The Science/Fiction of Human Enhancement". Featuring excerpts of her work the film, directed by Regan Brashear, was recently awarded 'Best Documentary over 30 minutes at the 'Picture This... Film Festival' 2014.

She will also be meeting other artists, disability activists and producers as well as making connections with potential partners for future international performances of the underwater wheelchair. She has also been invited to speak about her experiences at the world-leading Stanford University’s Spinal Injuries Unit as well as the world-famous Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Phil Gibby, Area Director, South West, Arts Council England said: “The Artists' international Development Fund helps us achieve our aim of ensuring talent and artistic excellence are thriving and celebrated. We want artists to be open to international perspectives and to expand their horizons. Sue’s work is all about expanding horizons and I’m certain that this award will bring about new opportunities both for Sue, and for audiences here and abroad to engage with her work.”


Notes to Editors

For details of how to watch Sue’s talk at NASA, visit

Attached is an image of Sue Austin performing in her underwater wheelchair. Please credit this image to – Artist: Sue Austin, Copyright Freewheeling, Photo: Norman Lomax.

For more information about this news release, contact Plymouth University Press & PR Officer Alan Williams on 01752 588004 or email For more information about Sue Austin’s work, contact Andrea Frankham-Hughes, Project Manager of Freewheeling, on 07971 058336 or email

About Plymouth University

Consistently ranked as one of the leading universities in the UK, and awarded a Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education in 2012, Plymouth has a strong record of excellence, enterprise and innovation across its teaching and research activities. Distinguished by its long-term engagement with business and the community, the University enjoys outstanding links with employers and plays a key role in civic and regional leadership. It is the only university in the world to have been awarded the Social Enterprise Mark in recognition of its work in support of the sector.

With around 30,000 students, including those studying higher education at its partner colleges throughout the South West, the University is one of largest in the UK. It enjoys a high rate of graduate employment and has recently invested more than £150 million in its estate and facilities to enhance the student experience and support world-class research.

Plymouth has embedded sustainability across its operations, and is the overall best performing university in the People & Planet Green League. It is the first modern university to found a medical and dental school – the Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry – and is the leading provider of Higher Education in Cornwall. For more information, please visit

About Sue Austin and Freewheeling

Sue Austin is a multimedia, performance and installation artist. Over an extended period of time her practice has operated as a vehicle to open up a thinking space around the materiality of the wheelchair. This is being used as a metaphor to raise questions about the value of diversity to society through raising the profile of ‘difference’.

Freewheeling is a disability led initiative focused on providing a ‘hub’ around which to foster integrated arts projects. We aim to allow ideas and artistic concepts to develop while maintaining an emphasis on promoting academic research that acts to reposition Disability Arts and the status of disabled artists within the arts and cultural sector. For more details, visit

‘Creating the Spectacle!’ is delivered in partnership with Arts Council England, Plymouth University, Adaptacar, IT3000, ICCI (Plymouth University), C-Waves Diving, Dan Burton Photography, Diveheart UK, Pegasus Thruster, Camel Dive Club, Scuba Travel, Patently Creative, Fathom and Blues, Silent Planet, Underwater Explorers, O’Three, SurfSurfSurf, Diving and Marine Solutions, Cameras Underwater, Aquatica, B-side multimedia arts festival, Kaleido, Moving Content UK, Osprey Leisure Centre, Chesil Beach and Fleet Nature Reserve, Purbeck Film Festival and independent producers

Posted by Andrea Frankham-Hughes, 29 November 2013

Last modified by Trish Wheatley, 22 January 2015

Sue speaks at the No Barriers Ball in Bath, organised by 3D Diving services

Sue pictured on the left talking to organiser Alexandra Slade on the right

Sue was delighted to attend the 3D Diving Services 'No Barriers' Fundraising Ball at the Pump Room in Bath. Sue was invited by Alexandra Slade to show her videos and give some insight into her work and the Freewheeling Project. It was great for Sue to meet all those committed individuals who help everyone gain access to the incredible world of Scuba Diving. Check out 3D's facebook page to see more of the fantastic work that they're doing.

Posted by Andrea Frankham-Hughes, 23 November 2013

Last modified by Andrea Frankham-Hughes, 12 February 2014

Sue Austin is featured in FIXED UK Film Premier.

Poster of Sue Austin in her underwater wheelchair promoting the film UK premiere of FIXED

The Award winning Documentary FIXED: The Science/Fiction of Human Enhancement will have its UK premiere in Edinburgh as part of the Filmhouse Cinema and Edinburgh University’s “Cyborg Ethics Film Festival.” The film will screen on Sunday, Nov 24th, at 1:15 PM. California based Film maker Regan Brashear approached Sue earlier this year after seeing 'Creating The Spectacle!' online.

“How far can human beings go in replacing their body parts with machinery before they can be considered as cyborgs? Will humanity eventually become obsolete? Should individuals download themselves into their computer hard-disks before they die? What would these new developments mean for their identity? The Cyborg Ethics Film Festival, which is a first in the world, will seek to answer some of these questions. At the end of each screening, a discussion will take place between the audience and a panel of invited experts in bioethics, science, law, medicine and politics.”

For tickets and more information:

Posted by Trish Wheatley, 22 November 2013

Last modified by Trish Wheatley, 22 November 2013

Press Release: Sue awarded Arts Council England Artists' International Development Funding

21 November

Press Release


South West artist Sue Austin is celebrating this morning after receiving an award of £8,435 from Arts Council England’s Artists’ International Development Fund to build on the success of her groundbreaking live art and video work using the world’s first underwater wheelchair.


The project 'Creating the Spectacle!' has received global attention since Sue Austin used the underwater wheelchair in a series of choreographed acrobatic underwater events produced through by her not-for-profit organisation Freewheeling as part of the London 2012 programme Unlimited during the Olympic and Paralympic Games.


Following a successful application to the Arts Council’s National Lottery-funded Grants for the arts programme, Freewheeling has been exploring ways of increasing public engagement, including plans for a tour of live art events in large tank aquaria and swimming pools, with part of the audience underwater.


Sue was invited to speak at TEDMED, an annual conference focusing on health in Washington DC in April 2013 and, through using the Arts Council grant, will visit the Johnson Space Center, Houston to engage in dialogue about the work. She will meet with artists, curators, filmmakers and scientists in California to explore future possibilities for public engagement with the underwater wheelchair, including a visit to the large tank aquarium in Monterey Bay.  


Both Sue and arts organisation Diverse City have gone from strength to strength since they created their breathtaking art works in the South West for the Cultural Olympiad with commission grants from Arts Council England’s Unlimited programme.


Last month Arts Council England announced that Shape and Artsadmin have been awarded £1.5m to act as national delivery partners for the Unlimited II commissioned grant programme.


Unlimited II will build on the success of the programme that took place during the Cultural Olympiad 2012.  Artists were offered an opportunity to develop ambitious projects across a variety of art forms, to develop work that challenged the public perception of disability, and that inspired collaborations with new partners.


The Arts Council will invest in Shape, the disability-led arts organisation, and Artsadmin to support Deaf and disabled artists through a programme of commissions and run a complementary mentoring programme between 2013 and 2016.


The programme will support Deaf and disabled artists to develop ambitious and high quality work, which will help them to developinform their practice. It will also help to develop build new relationships and collaborations with producers, venues and promoters, increase distribution of the work (through touring, including international touring, and digital means), and afford greater opportunities for audiences to see the work.


Sue Austin said: ‘Unlimited has been a fantastic experience. I was so impressed with the way it was structured to give meaningful access and support, enabling me to work with the Freewheeling team on a previously unimagined level.  So many opportunities have arisen because of the profile the Unlimited commission facilitated.  Creating the Spectacle! really has gone global and pushed my artistic career onto another level.  There have been invitations to speak, show the work and perform all over the world, with many people getting in touch to say how the underwater wheelchair has changed their perspective about disability.  We are really pleased that the most of the money was invested in the South West region to deliver the project and that the commission also attracted many partners, leading to exciting relationships with Arts Council England and Plymouth University.’


Alan Davey, Chief Executive for the Arts Council, said: ‘Supporting diversity in arts and culture is the right thing to do. I firmly believe that artists and organisations should make work that draws upon the full range of backgrounds of our society. Unlimited in 2012 was a real success story, enabling deaf and disabled artists from across the UK to showcase their talent as part of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad.

‘Building on this success, Unlimited II will ensure that deaf and disabled artists have a strong platform from which they can create ambitious, high quality work to develop and stretch audiences across England and beyond.

‘The collaboration between Shape and Artsadmin is a really exciting combination with both demonstrating really strong experience in supporting artists’ development; we believe this partnership will enable us to build on what was achieved in 2012 and continue to challenge public perceptions of disability.’


For more information contact:

Amy Zamarripa Solis, Advocacy & Communications Officer, South West, Arts Council England, Tel: 01




Posted by Andrea Frankham-Hughes, 21 November 2013

Last modified by Andrea Frankham-Hughes, 13 February 2014

Sue's 'Finding Freedom Video Screened at Islington Exhibits

Image - IMG_0089TWcolour72dpi.jpg

'Finding Freedom' is being screened at the Rowan Arts 'Islington Exhibits' event. Sue's video will be shown as part of the 'Watering Hole' installation - a series of water-inspired works curated especially for the restored Ironmonger Row Public Baths building on 20th July 2013.
Don't forget to bring a towel!



Posted by Andrea Frankham-Hughes, 18 July 2013

Last modified by Andrea Frankham-Hughes, 12 February 2014

Richard Branson becomes the latest person to become part of the artwork!

Image - FW_WhatisCTS.jpg

Today we are thrilled to announce that Richard Branson has blogged about 'Creating the Spectacle!'. As a diver and innovator himself, he evidently felt compelled to write about Sue's amazing achievements with the underwater wheelchair.  

Here at Freewheeling we feel this is a real testament to the reach of this unusual and inspiring project. Read the blog in full here

If you have been inspired and would like to support the ongoing underwater wheelchair project in some way please send a donation


or contact us at



Posted by Trish Wheatley, 9 July 2013

Last modified by Nicola Lucas, 10 October 2013

Sue Austin appears on BBC Breakfast News

Sue AAustin pictured left, in the BBC Breakfast News Studio with Charlie Stayt far left and Louise Minchin centre

Sue was so pleased to be asked to appear on BBC Breakfast News to talk about her artwork & the Underwater Wheelchair (which was set up in the studio). Following her recent interview with ABC World News the Freewheeling project has gone viral Globally once again, with media requests for information from around the world.

Posted by Andrea Frankham-Hughes, 22 June 2013

Last modified by Andrea Frankham-Hughes, 11 February 2014

The Guardian Online feature an article about Sue

Sue is flying the underwater wheelchair in the Red Sea, her arms are outstretched and she is passing a large coral outcrop of red coral on the right There ia a shoal of glassfish to the left

Sue is getting to be very popular with the British Press as she is featured in the Comments section of The Guardian Online. Her story has certainly provoked a lot of interest with over 90 comments, with widely differing opinions of the Artwork.

Posted by Andrea Frankham-Hughes, 21 June 2013

Last modified by Andrea Frankham-Hughes, 14 February 2014