Sumi Perera’s bimodal status as a Sri Lankan émigré and British citizen informs her multidisciplinary practice, an amalgam of influences based on her training as an artist, scientist and doctor. Her work reverses authorship, through interactive prints, artist books and installations often inviting the viewer to re-configure the sequence. Traditional techniques of mezzotint, lithography, etching, aquatint, drypoint, sugarlift, chine collé, monoprint, collagraph, embossing, screenprinting; are harnessed to computer numerical controlled methods such as laser cutting & laser engraving; and often stitched and incised to form mixed-media assemblages.
Process is as important as the product. Each prototype of a series leads to several variations on the theme, generating open numbered variable editions. Often the reader/viewer is asked to inscribe/erase, add/subtract, change the sequence, the alignment and devise multiple permutations, oscillating between the vertical and horizontal planes.
BUILDING BLOCKS BOOK is an ongoing series of artist books and installations investigating how the human body occupies space inside and outside of the built environment. LINES EXPLORING SPACE OUTSIDE THE BUILDING BLOCKS is a hybrid of the above series and another work titled: Lines Exploring Space.
Often loose visual and textual fragments accompany the works to enable re-editing. Her most recent project, a universal collaborative artist book scroll titled WORK IN PROGRESS [a tribute to James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake] is a touring interactive installation of blocks. Single units and modules of two and ten were exchanged via mail between artists. During the installations, viewers were invited to type and intervene at each venue.
Perera worked as a doctor in Sri Lanka, returned to UK for postgraduate studies (MSc & MPhil) in Virology and worked at London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. In 2003 she completed a MA Bookarts at Camberwell College of Arts, University of London. She taught at the Central Academy of Fine Art, Beijing 2007 and curated a show: 15 to 1 touring internationally to 12 venues.
She has won several prizes and awards: The St. Cuthbert’s Mill Award at DRAW 12 (London 2012); The Intaglio Prize-Printathon (London 2012); 1st Prize-Drawing for Design. Rootstein Hopkins Foundation Drawing Exhibition.(London 2011); Distinction-European International Book Art Biennale 2010, (Romania 2010); Best Overall Book Design Prize (NPB) & the Aidan Portnall Award-Society of Bookbinders International Competition & Conference.I (2009); Southern Cross University Acquisitive Award. NSW, Australia. (2009); prize at SHELTER, touring exhibition USA. (2008-2009); Birgit Skiold 1st. Award for excellence in Book Arts, London Artist Bookfair ’05, Institute of Contemporary Art, London. (2005); Grand Prize-1 Competition, Seoul, South Korea. (2005)
Perera has work held in several public and private collections: Tate Britain; Victoria & Albert Museum; Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford; Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery; PrintROOM – Rotterdam; Camberwell College of Arts, University of the Arts, London; Manchester Metropolitan University Special Collection; Guanlan Museum, China; Grafisk vaerksted-Naestved, Denmark; Sakima Art Museum, Okinawa Prefecture, Japan; British Library; Bibliotheca Alexandrina, Permanent Art Collection. Alexandria, Egypt; Southern Cross University Artist Book Collection, NSW, Australia; Yale Centre for British Art, USA; CFPR (Centre for Fine Print Research) Collection, UWE Bristol. UK; Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library, Kansas, USA; Brooklyn Art Library, USA; Centre for Artist Books, Dundee Contemporary Art, Dundee; ULUS Print Triennial Collection, Belgrade, Serbia; DFEWA Collection, Satu Mare, Romania; Bank Street Arts, Sheffield; Leeds College of Art Library, UK; Iraq National Library, Baghdad; National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts, R.O.C. The Prix de Print Award, Art in Print, USA July 2015
• The Laurence King Publishers Prize. The East London Printmakers Annual Exhibition. London September 2015
• Incline Press-Dave Godin Memorial Award. The Society of Bookbinders International Conference & Competition. August 2015
• The Arqadia & Intaglio Print Award at DRAW 14. Menier Gallery, London 2014
She is a fellow of the Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers and the Society of Designer Craftsmen and a member of the Society of Graphic Fine Art and the 62 Group of Textile Artists. She lives and works in the UK.
Sumi Perera Website