Polly Bates

Polly Bates
BA (Hons) Fine Art // University of Staffordshire ’20

Polly’s work is an ongoing investigation into what it means to be human, reflecting on our relationship with both the natural world and technology. She draws on humour to explore the awkwardness of being human through pursuit of purpose and belonging, and the experience of living in a geological era shaped by humanity.

The use of dark humour draws on a complex human response which she uses to address sociocultural contexts and inconvenient truths. This contrast of using humour to deliver daunting and significant current issues allows her to approach the difficult subject matter directly, utilising it throughout her practice with the intention to reveal shared social, environmental and political anxieties.

Polly is interested in creating unnerving, odd pieces which typically have an underlying sadness to them. Her practice includes interdisciplinary content which is heavily influenced by scientific information and study into the ‘Anthropocene’, as she explores the human impact on the world through the typical Western society’s self- proclaimed hierarchy against nature.

“In my Liquid Landscapes series, the pairing of imprints from a plaster mould of a portrait clay bust sculpture with 3-D sculptural painting, made from hand-printed fabric as foreground, creates a physical connection to our world – whilst a digitally painted background re-conceptualises the sculptures into an imagined environment.

There is a certain degree of staging and manipulation within the image and there is a clear relationship and interaction between the works. The playfulness of scale within the series is interesting and humorous as you have a magnified depiction of skin against the perspective of monumental peaks. These sculptural works are existing within a digital setting, and contrasts of the toxic backgrounds create an apocalyptic, dystopian atmosphere”.

In addition to exhibiting her work in and around Staffordshire, Polly has also curated several exhibitions. She recently won her university’s Green Week Design Competition (2019), and was commissioned by Extinction Rebellion to create a sculpture for their international 2 week movement in Trafalgar Square.


Framed print on perlino cotton paper
42 x 30 cm


2017 – 2020
BA (Honours) Fine Art, Staffordshire University, Stoke-on-Trent. Second class: first division.

2016 – 2017
Foundation Art and Design, Staffordshire University, Stoke-on-Trent.


Creative Responses to the Climate Crisis, ARBORETUM, Charing Cross, London.
The SHIM/Bachelors Show via Artsy.net.
Displaced Degree Show on The Student Gallery website.
The Social Distance Art Project website and Instagram page.
PHILOTIMO, Pilgrims Pit, Stoke-on-Trent.

PolluShine, Is It Worth It?, AirSpace Gallery, Stoke on Trent.
Amalgamation, Staffordshire University, Cadman Gallery.

Antithetical Digital, Staffordshire University, Cadman Gallery.
Buoyed, Staffordshire University, Cadman Gallery.
As Time Goes By, Staffordshire University, Cadman Gallery.
Dispatches, Staffordshire University, Cadman Gallery.

Foundation Year Final Exhibition, Staffordshire University, Cadman G133, Foundation Studios.
Rituals, Staffordshire University, Flaxman Building in The Cube.


Winner of Staffordshire University’s Green Week design competition, design printed and sold in Students Union shops across campus, encouraging reusable bags instead of plastic.

Other Experience

Features and Publications

Featured artist in Art Hole Magazine Issue 3 page (tbc).
Featured artist – Lurid Landscapes, 2020 in MASS! July’s issue MOVEMENTS page 71-72.
Interview article with The Student Gallery.
Featured on Shim Art Network’s Instagram page. Chosen by The Social Distance Art Project to be one of the artists to promote their virtual exhibition.
The Sentinel Staffordshire Newspaper, ‘Local and Proud’ article Share this Moment with students: graduates staging ‘virtual exhibition’ page 22.
Saatchi Gallery’s Instagram Takeover submission winner. 1 of 10 chosen artists to feature on Saatchi’s Instagram account from the one week challenge theme of Line Drawing.

The Sentinel Staffordshire Newspaper, ‘Local and Proud’ article PLASTIC NOT FANTASTIC about my solo exhibition PolluShine, Is It Worth It? at AirSpace Gallery, Stoke on Trent. 


Curator and organiser for Staffordshire University’s Fine Art virtual online Degree Show Moment on Instagram.
Solo Exhibition, PolluShine, Is It Worth It?
Antithetical Digital, group curated exhibition.
As Time Goes By, group curated exhibition.


‘Flower Girl’ a sculpture commissioned by Undergrowth, a music events brand in Birmingham.

‘Injustice Scales’ a sculpture commissioned by Extinction Rebellion for the International 2 week movement at Trafalgar Square, London
‘Plastic, The Slow Tsunami’ a permanent public artwork commissioned by Staffordshire University’s Students Union reflecting on the quantity of plastic bottles consumed as a University.