ION-DRI Programme


Drawing the Stuff of Memory

Dr Kirsty Lu and Maria Teresa Ortoleva

This project explores the phenomenon of memory and how the continuum between remembrance and forgetfulness is perceived, represented, and understood by means of drawing. Acknowledging memory as the precious fabric of human experience, this artist/researcher collaboration will take a compassionate look at the lived experience and fear of memory loss, such as at the onset of dementia and other degenerative neurological conditions. 

It also aims to celebrate and widen participation in research, from acknowledging generous life-long contributions to engaging underrepresented and disadvantaged groups in public workshops.

Dr Kirsty Lu is a postdoctoral research fellow at the Dementia Research Centre, UCL, where she has been working since 2012, following undergraduate studies in Natural Sciences at Cambridge University. She has experience with neuroimaging and neuropsychological research on a range of studies investigating different types of dementia.  The main aim of her research is to understand more about the earliest changes in cognition that occur during the preclinical stages of Alzheimer’s disease. Since 2015 and through her PhD (2019) she has worked on the ‘Insight 46’ study (a sub-study of the National Survey of Health and Development (British 1946 Birth Cohort)) to identify life-course factors which influence brain health, cognitive ageing and dementia risk. 
Twitter: @lu_kirsty

Maria Teresa Ortoleva is an exhibiting drawing and installation artist who works with art galleries, producing site-specific installations, and private and public commissions. She is represented by Luca Tommasi art gallery in Milan. Her practice operates at the intersection between art and mental wellbeing, creating data-based sculptures and diagrammatic representations of the human mind and its thinking processes. She has experience collaborating with academic researchers, most recently as a King’s Artist in Residence in the Dept. of informatics at Kings College London (2020-2022). She regularly practices as an artist educator in the community for Westminster Council education service and BWW Mind, working with people with lived experience of mental health challenges.  

Kirsty Ku and Alison Carlier at the Arbor mixer

Maria Teresa Ortoleva at the Arbor mixer event