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Shona Illingworth

Reader in Fine Art


Shona Illingworth's work combines interdisciplinary research (particularly with emerging neuropsychological models of memory and critical approaches to memory studies) with publicly engaged practice.

Shona Illingworth is an artist who works across sound, film, video, photography, drawing and painting. Major works using moving image and/or sound, take the form of gallery based and site specific installation. Her work combines interdisciplinary research (particularly with emerging neuropsychological models of memory and critical approaches to memory studies) with publicly engaged practice.

The process of developing her work involves diagrammatic and spatial sound drawing, conceptual map making and densely layered compositions of sound and moving image, which examine subjectivity, affective geographies and spatial politics within culturally charged contexts. She uses both immersive and architecturally embedded sound, investigating the capacity for multi-channel audio to create complex spatialised compositions, and for new audio technologies to change the relationship between sound and materiality.

She has worked closely with scientists to explore individual and collective memory and the mapping of mental space onto external terrain, themes which are explored in the Film and Video Umbrella monograph on her work: The Watch Man - BalnakielShona Illingworth (2011).

She is currently developing a large-scale project, which explores how individual and cultural amnesia shape evolving social, cultural and historical landscapes,  and a related series of interdisciplinary forums entitled The Amnesia Forums.

Her work has been exhibited widely, including at the Museum of Modern Art, Bologna, the Wellcome Collection, London, the National Museum, Tirana and Interaccess Electronic Media Arts Centre, Toronto and she has received high profile commissions from Film and Video Umbrella, the Hayward Gallery, London and Channel 4 Television.

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Also view these in the Kent Academic Repository

Grief, N. et al. (2018). The Airspace Tribunal: Towards a New Human Right to Protect the Freedom to Exist Without Physical or Psychological Threat from Above. European Human Rights Law Review:201-207.
Conference or workshop item
Illingworth, S. (2014). Hirte: Three Forms of Forgetting. in: Place - Occupation.. Available at:
Visual media
Illingworth, S. (2014). 216 Westbound. [Film, 17 minutes, HD, DVD]. Animate Projects Arts Council England. Available at:
Illingworth, S. (2014). El Cine Como Teoria Direct: Shona Illingworth. [Dedicated film screening and discussion].
Illingworth, S. (2015). Topologies of Air - book. London, UK: Cape Farewell.
Showing 5 of 68 total publications in KAR. [See all in KAR]
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Illingworth, S., Conway, M.A., Albano, C., Bennett, J., Bode, S., (2011) THE WATCH MAN - BALNAKIEL, Shona Illingworth - Artist monograph on Shona Illingworth's work, Film and Video Umbrella publisher, London

Illingworth. S, (2003), For Women Its Everything That Changes - Artist book – Independent Photography publishers, London

Illingworth's work features in chapters in books including:

Bennett,J., (2012) Practical Aesthetics: Art, Affect and Events After 9/11 – chapter on 'Balnakiel' and 'The Watch Man', IB Tauris publishers, London (in print)

Albano, C., (2012) Fear and Art in the Contemporary World – two chapters featuring, 'The Watch Man' and 'Bare Dust', Reaktion Books publishers (in print)

Bennet,J., (2012) Carnal Aesthetics: Transgressive Imagery and Feminist Politics – chapter featuring 'Balnakiel', IB Tauris publishers, London (in print)

Illingworth's work appears in numerous exhibition catalogues and has been the subject of articles in journals including Memory Studies, Photoworks, Esse and Corridor 8. Reviews and interviews have appeared in numerous magazines and media including Flash Art International, Tema Celeste, The Guardian, Third Text, La Republica, APEngine and Cult Frame.

Solo exhibitions of Illingworth's work include at: Wolverhampton City Art Gallery; John Hansard Gallery, Southampton; the Wellcome Collection, London; Dilston Grove, London; Interaccess Electronic Media Arts Centre, Toronto with the International Images Festival of Film, Video and New Media; Galleria Pianissimo, Milan; AGNL (Art Gallery of Newfoundland), St John's, Canada; CGP, London; Turnaround commission for the Hayward Gallery, London and FABRICA, Brighton.

Illingworth's work has been shown in group exhibitions and screenings including at the Whitechapel Gallery, London; Modern Art Oxford; Museum of Fine Art, Lausanne, Switzerland; Artprojx Cinema, SVA theatre and Armory Show, New York; Museum of Modern Art Bologna, Italy; SPACE, London; Cornerhouse, Manchester; Akbank Sanat, Istanbul; Angel Row Gallery, Nottingham; The Architecture Foundation, London; National Gallery, Almaty, Kazakhstan; National Museum, Prishtina, Kosovo; Hatton Gallery, Newcastle; VIAFARINI, Milan; Oriel Mostyn Gallery, Llandudno; R.I.B.A (Royal Institute of British Architects), London; National Gallery, Tirana, Albania; Architecture Association, London; R.I.B.A (Royal Institute of British Architects), London and the Royal College of Art, London.

Commissioners of her work include Animate Projects; Film and Video Umbrella; FABRICA; Channel 4 Television and the Hayward Gallery. She was previously awarded the Stanley Picker Fellowship.

She has organised series of symposia and presented at conferences and events both nationally and internationally.


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Interdisciplinary research processes are key to the development and conception of Illingworth’s projects. The focus of the research is both topical, contributing to new and developing models of thinking about memory, society and spatial politics, and socially acute, involving public engagement with individuals and groups of people within specific political, cultural and historical contexts.

Her research is embedded in both social issues and academia where Illingworth continues to work across discipline with some of the leading researchers in their fields. Outcomes have included two major art projects, The Watch Man (2007) and Balnakiel, (2009). The former is a study of the disjuncture between the isolating and fragmentary nature of traumatic memory for war and societies’ need to create coherent narratives for the past. The latter examines the spatial effects of wider cultural and geopolitical processes on the evolution of individual and cultural memory and sense of place, and in particular, how the military use of landscape affects a civilian population.

These projects have been exhibited in solo exhibitions internationally. A recent monograph on Ilingworth’s work examines the synthesis in these projects of new scientific thinking about memory with current discourse about memory in contemporary visual culture and society. The book includes texts by Martin A. Conway, Caterina Albano, Jill Bennett and Steven Bode. Both projects have been widely referenced and are the subject of chapters in three forthcoming academic books. A peer-reviewed article aboutBalnakiel  will appear in Memory Studies journal, in 2013. Balnakiel was commissioned by Film and Video Umbrella and received an Arts Award from The Wellcome Trust. The Watch Man was supported by an award from Arts Council England.

Staging a series of interdisciplinary forums on key themes related to her projects is an important part of Illingworth’s research methodology and contributes to new experimental processes for script and content development in her work. The first of theAmnesia Forums, a new series of interdisciplinary forums developed by Illingworth, took place in conjunction with the Adam Smith Research Foundation at the University of Glasgow in November 2012. 

Illingworth is currently developing a large-scale practice based research project, with Professor Martin A. Conway and Dr Catherine Loveday, which examines implications individual and cultural amnesia have on the social, geopolitical and cultural topologies that inform contemporary constructions of identity, place and location. An international solo exhibition tour to the UK, Canada and Australia, and a series of symposia are planned for 2014/15. The project has received an Arts Award for Research and Development from the Wellcome Trust.

Illingworth is a collaborator on Hearing The Voice at Durham University. This is the first major interdisciplinary study of the phenomenon of voice-hearing: hearing the voice of another person in the absence of any speaker. This five year medical humanities project consists of five interdependent programmes of research in the fields of phenomenology, cognitive neuroscience, hermeneutics, therapeutic practice and medical humanities methodology

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Shona Illingworth works with both undergraduate and postgraduate students and teaches across all aspects of the Fine Art Programme.

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Last Updated: 23/07/2015