03 April 2024


NYU Abu Dhabi symposium

I’ve been invited to speak at a conference at NYU Abu Dhabi in April 2024. It’s called ‘The Generative Archive: Research, Methods and Practices’ and has been convened by Salwa Mikdadi, Director, al Mawrid Arab Center for the Study of Art, NYUAD along with colleagues at University of North Texas and University of California, Berkeley.

I’ll be using the Archive of Destruction to discuss communal memory, building archives beyond institutions, critical fabulation, the role of AI, and alternatives ways of constructing narratives.

Image credit: Joanna Rajkowska, Greetings from Jerusalem Avenue, 2002. Photo: Marek Szczepański, courtesy the artist.

11 January 2024

Book launch

Book launch

Join us for the London launch of my new publication, ‘Things left undone unsaid uncelebrated unplanned unfinished’

15 Feb 2024
18.30 – 20.30


140 Great Dover Street
London SE1 4GW

I’ll be in conversation with artist Sean Lynch, discussing the process of researching material for the book, and doing a reading.

Taking the work of seven artists, film makers and writers who have a connection to Ireland, the book is an attempt to recognise (celebrate even!) the vulnerability, the strangeness, the loneliness, and the arbitrariness of much artistic endeavour and hard graft.

The book is part of the Askeaton Contemporary Arts programme of publications, designed by Daly & Lyon.

Order a copy here

17 October 2023

Tash text

New text for artist Natasha MacVoy

I was invited by artist Natasha MacVoy to write a text for her exhibition ‘U & I’ at Eastside Projects in Birmingham (7 Oct - 16 Dec 2023). We embarked on a rich and rambling five month-long exchange, discussing the various ways that Natasha has rehearsed, adapted and changed the fabric of her world to provide an invisible support structure for her neurodiverse, teenage children.

‘if i walk behind you’ consists of stories about her estranged father, her research into stunt performer Yakima Canutt, the voices inside her head, her work with a wig-maker, and the possibility of imagining life in another body.

Publication design by An Endless Supply.

18 July 2023

Lund F

Lund conference

I’ll be talking at a conference held in Lund in September 2023 about failure, reinscription and the afterlives of public artworks.

Organised by Maddie Leach at Valand Academy, this two day event will discuss issues relating to custodianship and whether ‘failed’ artworks can be revitalised and thought anew; how this raises implications for their authorship and ownership, and what challenges it presents for commissioners, artists, architects, and urban designers. How can producers, owners and custodians of public artworks and the communities and publics living with these works anticipate and accommodate complex afterlives of public art? My contribution will focus on research connecting to my Archive of Destruction project.

Speakers: Patrick Amsellem, Lisa Le Feuvre and Jes Fernie.

16 July 2023


Conversation with Rhys Coren

Rhys Coren invited me to have a conversation with him about his current exhibition ‘Ripple’ at Seventeen Gallery. We walked through the four spaces with an audience, a dog, and much good humour.

We talked about feedback loops, MARY HEILMANN, influences and how to recognise them, shiny verses matt objects, sculptures that draw you in and paintings that push you away, RULES PROCESSES CODES PERCENTAGES, fabricators and furniture, no beginnings and no endings.

Listen ‘here.

I got to know Rhys when I worked with him on a major permanent commission in Mayfair, London called ‘Everyone I’ve Ever Known’ (2022)



13 June 2023


The Invitation

I was invited by Jönköping municipality in Sweden to write an art strategy for the city, which has just been published. Working with landscape architect Jake Ford, we produced an ambitious, in-depth report called ‘The Invitation’ which draws on the voices of local, national and international artists, curators, architects, planners and museum specialists.

Like many cities across the world, Jönköping is grappling with multiple challenges: urban expansion, a growing population reliant on a crumbling welfare state, the fall-out of neo-liberal policies, the climate crisis, and diminishing cultural funding.

While the book is specific to the city of Jönköping, it is also relevant to a broad range of organisations looking to develop an art commissioning programme that is embedded in the hopeful infrastructure of city life. It takes the temperature of contemporary commissioning practice and proposes ways that things could change.

This project draws on the work I have been doing with Jake Ford over the last seven years in Lund for the award winning Råängen programme of commissions, events, publications and buildings – an urban expansion programme involving artists, thinkers, academics, priests, local people and magic.

09 May 2023

TF cat

Trickster Figures catalogue

Trickster Figures: Sculpture and the Body

Exhibition catalogue published by MK Gallery, May 2023.

Design: Mark El-khatib
Editor: Jes Fernie
Texts: Francis Whorrall-Campbell and Jes Fernie

Big thanks to all those galleries and individuals who funded it / helped made it happen: Maximillian William Gallery, Action Space, Large Glass Gallery, The Approach, Kerlin Gallery, Modern Art, Karen Smith, Bina von Stauffenberg, Frank Krikhaar, Victoria Thomas.

And to the Henry Moore Foundation and the Association for Art History which funded the exhibition and Francis’ text.

Buy here


29 March 2023

Jes and Sam

Archive of Destruction talk

I’ll be talking about the Archive of Destruction with artist Sam Durant (left) on 26 April 2023 at Art Exchange, University of Essex.

Large-scale drawings from Durant’s ‘Iconoclasm’ series have been installed around the University of Essex campus. Based on TV and newspaper images, they depict acts of destruction enacted on public monuments and statues.

The story of Durant’s ‘Scaffold’ sculpture is written up in the Archive of Destruction. It’s a pretty compelling read, involving a huge international outcry, a ceremonial burning, and the eventual transferral of the intellectual property rights of the work to the Dakota people.

Join on Zoom if you can’t make it to the Essex Unviersity campus.

15 February 2023


Swedish architecture prize

Our public garden for a new neighbourhood in Lund, Sweden, has been shortlisted for the Kasper Salin Prize - Sweden’s most prestigious architecture prize!

‘Hage’ (‘garden’) is a very simple, beautiful thing, but what makes it so special is the context in which it is embedded. Not just the physical landscape of Råängen but all the work we have done to situate it in a critical / social framework: the commissioned texts, public events, schools programme, exhibitions, seminars, extensive website development, talks, photography, social media + press coverage and involvement of our advisory panel members.

More information on the Råängen programme, which I’ve been working on since 2016, can be found here.

Phot: Peter Westrup, 2021

12 February 2023


Trickster Figures is open!

Trickster Figures: Sculpture and the Body

MK Gallery
4 February - 7 May 2023

Trickster Figures brings together eleven contemporary artists whose work stretches the definition of sculpture. The exhibition includes play, touch, sound and movement as well as objects that are made to be worn. Crab shells, tree roots and shopping bags sit alongside a dance floor and a water fountain. Elements will change and grow while some will never be finished.

The exhibition is rooted in the idea that new relations to the world are under construction, involving powerful slippages between binary systems, identities, humans, animals and the environment. Bodies are implicated in this new relationship, rendering them vulnerable but also magically available for new inscriptions and ways of thinking. As the exhibition curator Jes Fernie describes, “There is a leakage, a seepage in these works. Many of them allude to bodies or systems that relate to bodies. Jealous bodies, broken bodies, fossilised bodies, vulnerable, contaminated bodies. There is also love, tenderness, glamour, and compulsion.” 

“The historical or mythological ‘trickster’ is often defined as a character who disobeys the rules and defies categories and conventions. The academic and philosopher Donna Haraway refers to tricksters as ‘wild cards that reconfigure possible worlds’. I see the artists in this exhibition doing just that.”
Jes Fernie

Installation views:
Siobhán Hapaska and Nnena Kalu
Ro Robertson
Alice Channer
Photos: Rob Harris


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Jes Fernie

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