Katie Schwab, The Seeing Hands. Photo: Sally Jubb Photography.

Katie Schwab, The Seeing Hands. Photo: Sally Jubb Photography.

The Seeing Hands
Katie Schwab


8 Oct 2022 — 5 Mar 2023  


City Dome

In October 2022, Collective’s City Dome was a site of play, filled with a large-scale interactive exhibition by artist Katie Schwab.

Katie Schwab participated in Collective’s Satellites Programme for emerging artists in 2015, since then, she has exhibited widely, was nominated for the MaxMara prize in 2019, and participated in the British Art Show in 2022. She has produced interactive installations and projects for Tate, Baltic, Arnolfini and Serpentine inviting families to play, creating new images and patterns and exploring new possibilities with materials.

With a special interest in early-mid twentieth-century design and craft, Schwab’s practice is emphatically hands-on, collaborative and participatory. In the City Dome, she layered textures, touchable surfaces and sculptures to create an exhibition that invited tactile engagement and learning through play.

For The Seeing Hands, Schwab took inspiration from a number of architectural details found at Collective and twentieth century art & design reference points, specifically The Tactile Workshops book by Italian artist & designer Bruno Munari (1907-98). Munari’s book suggests making a touchable library for children – a collection of materials with different tactile qualities – something that was reflected in Schwab's installation, which encourages children to experiment freely.

Since opening the Observatory in 2018, Collective has been exploring our site and exhibition programme with local families and groups using loose parts play theory. Through trails, play weekends and regular drop-in sessions, we work with artists and groups to create opportunities for creative learning through play.

People of all ages were welcome to drop-in to play, look and gather in the exhibition with facilitated sessions during our regular Friday drop-in Play sessions. Schools, nursery or community groups were welcome to contact Collective to book time to experience the exhibition.

Wednesdays from 10am–11am, were reserved as quiet times to visit the exhibition.

Katie also collaborated with designer Maeve Redmond to produce a tactile resource which asks: how many textures can you create using these papers? You can do​wnload a colour or print friendly black and white version.

Interpretation material: written | audio

This artwork is a joint commission in partnership with Bluecoat (Liverpool).

About the Artist

Katie Schwab works with installation, textiles, furniture and moving image to explore personal and social histories of craft, design and education. Her research focuses on 20th century design and craft, civic architecture and play environments. Embedded in the communities and contexts in which she works, Schwab's long-term projects incorporate collaborative workshops, archival research and craft-based learning. Her recent work has been featured at The Box, Plymouth; Falmouth Art Gallery, Cornwall; RSA, Edinburgh; The Eden Project, Cornwall; Roaming Projects, London, and Glasgow Sculpture Studios, Glasgow, amongst others. Her full exhibition history can be viewed here.