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Shona Illingworth

Reader in Fine Art, University of Kent

Shona Illingworth is an artist who works across sound, film, video, photography and drawing. Major works using moving image and/or sound, take the form of gallery based and site specific installation. She draws on long-term interdisciplinary dialogues with scientists, to investigate the ongoing impact of amnesia and cultural erasure on the invisible social, cultural and geopolitical architectures that we inhabit, and on our capacity to imagine the future.

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 has worked closely with scientists to explore individual and collective memory and the mapping of mental space onto external terrain. Her large-scale project, Lesions in the Landscape (2015), supported by the Wellcome Trust, explores how individual and cultural amnesia shape evolving social, cultural and historical landscapes and has toured internationally. Her related work The Amnesia Museum, an archive of forgetting, and series of interdisciplinary forums entitled the Amnesia Forums extends these investigations.

Shona is collaborating with law professor and barrister Nick Grief on the establishment of the Airspace Tribunal, an international public forum to consider the case for and against the recognition of a new human right to protect the freedom to exist without physical or psychological threat from above. Drawing on wide expertise and experience, the Airspace Tribunal aims to engage the public in discussion about the rapidly changing composition and nature of airspace, consider future pressures/impacts and interrogate and challenge the narrow terms by which airspace is currently defined and represented in law. The Airspace Tribunal will also result in a major new artwork, Topologies of Air, commissioned by The Wapping Project for exhibition at The Power Plant, Toronto in 2020.

Shona's work has been exhibited widely, including at the Museum of Modern Art, Bologna, the Wellcome Collection, London, FACT (Foundation for Art and Creative Technology), Liverpool, the Imperial War Museum, London, the National Museum, Tirana, UNSW Galleries, Sydney 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.


  • –present
    Reader in Fine Art, University of Kent