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Isabel Young


  • Isabel Young
  • Area

    School of Arts & Humanities


    Tutor (Research), Graduate Diploma

  • Isabel Young is a Tutor (Research) at the Royal College of Art on the Graduate Diploma in Art & Design. Based at White City, she lectures across art and design disciplines with a focus on product, interiors and spatial design. She has contributed to the curriculum design and development of the Graduate Diploma and continues to play a key role in the academic delivery and assessment of the course. Isabel is an interdisciplinary practitioner and researcher working three-dimensionally within contemporary art practice, and on the aspect of current theory surrounding ‘expanded painting’. Her work combines the apparently paradoxical processes of architectural software and traditional painting to form multi-modal hybrid works where the disciplines of architecture, landscape architecture, painting, sculpture and constructed photography converge.

  • Biography

  • Isabel Young is an artist and lecturer. Isabel graduated from the Royal College of Art in 2002 with a Master’s in Fine Art. Since that time she has exhibited extensively across the United Kingdom and internationally in New York, Ireland, Japan and Thailand. She has had solo exhibitions in London at Rockwell and Rosy Wilde, and also at the Laing Art Gallery in Newcastle (Tyne & Wear Archives & Museum), where she showcased a unique body of work that challenged notions of still life painting and investigated our relationship to other species.

    Between 2010 and 2012 Isabel undertook a Master’s in Landscape Architecture at the University of Greenwich, for which she was awarded distinction. While she continues to practice as a fine artist, landscape architecture, architecture and spatial design continue to be primary influences on her work.

    Alongside her career as an artist she is a Tutor (Research) at the Royal College of Art where she lectures on the Graduate Diploma in Art & Design. She has taught fine art and design for over a decade at some of the world’s leading centres for art and design education, having previously held positions at the University for the Creative Arts, the University of Gloucestershire and Central Saint Martins (University of the Arts London).

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  • Practice

  • Isabel Young’s research engages with multiple aspects in the field of art and design and involves interdisciplinary approaches. Primarily the work extends existing contemporary art practice as an aspect of current theory surrounding ‘expanded painting’. Her practice has reached new conclusions by combining apparently paradoxical processes involving architectural software and traditional painting to form multi-modal hybrid works, where the disciplines of architecture, landscape architecture, painting, constructed photography, sculpture and assemblage converge.

    Conceptually, her practice investigates architectural space and the built environment as a reflection of how we once lived, and how we now live. Young’s wall-based works form an intersection between fictional realities and real spaces, making associations between object making, image making and spatial design. Artefacts and architectural indicators inhabit the work, either as found objects, artist-made or artist-painted. They are representative of the evolution of human intellect and our material existence and shift the work between vast distances to one of nearness associated with the cocooned universe of the still life.

    The making of the work involves multiple modes of production including digital, scale model-making, assemblage and painted surfaces. Significantly the work originates in AutoCAD, an architectural software where it is in theory possible to draw infinitely, albeit dependent on available memory, and to zoom in and out of virtual spaces. This proposes a unique platform from which to derive a painting, which historically has been confined to the dimensions of its frame. From here the digital moves to laser-precision technology and the physical cutting of exotic woods to be assembled and painted into a hybrid oscillating between the architectural model and traditional oil painting. Drawing on influences from landscape architecture, scale takes on a principle role where measurement represents vast distances or specified dimensions. The final outcomes of the process represent a new form of painting that physically separates (or implodes) the internal mechanisms of a painting into a spatial formation similar to that of a stage set.

    Through her partnership Hand + Young Projects Isabel Young is undertaking research into the areas of drawing, architecture and expanded painting. She is particularly interested in the capacity for drawing to disseminate complex ideas and the use of drawing beyond the disciplines of art and design. As such she is currently in the process of curating a large-scale exhibition that will present the diagrams of scientists alongside drawing by designers, architects and artists.

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  • Publications, exhibitions and other outcomes

  • Isabel Young is working on a number of projects including a two-person exhibition with artist and RCA colleague Gary Clough. She is also co-curating a drawing exhibition for the Newington Gallery at The Art Academy in London with Alison Hand under their partnership Hand + Young Projects, which is scheduled for November 2019. The exhibition will present work from an interdisciplinary spectrum, including artists, designers, architects, archaeologists, scientists, and writers with an agenda to investigate the notion of drawing as a universal language and to expand the conversation around drawing beyond assumed definitions and practitioners. Hand + Young Projects will chair a symposium event in association with the exhibition, which will form the basis for a digital publication. 

    Young recently exhibited in a two-person exhibition Architecture of Landscape in London at Arthouse1 Gallery. The conceptual agenda of the exhibition evolved from a synthesis of architectural theory and debate around regeneration, land use and the experience of space as a series of boundaries. It explored interdependent networks connecting the built environment and contemporary landscape, with the notion of landscape including off-world colonisation as prospective landscapes of occupation.
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  • Awards and Grants

  • Isabel’s work has won many awards including the Gilchrist Fisher Award for Landscape Painting, The Gordon Luton Award for Fine Art from the Worshipful Company of Painter-Stainers, the Basel H. Alkazzi Travel Scholarship to New York and the Jerwood Contemporary Painters. She was recently granted an award from the Oppenheim-John Downes Memorial Trust to develop her practice and produce her most recent body of expanded paintings.

Selected work