Jane Wilson


  • Jane Wilson
  • Area

    School of Fine Art


    Senior Tutor, Moving Image

  • Jane Wilson is a Senior Tutor in Moving Image on the Contemporary Art Practice programme in the School of Fine Art. She is also an artist in collaboration with her sister, Louise Wilson, and Professor of Fine Art from Wolverhampton University. 

  • Biography

  • Jane Wilson has a BA in Fine Art from Newcastle Polytechnic, an MA in Fine Art from Goldsmiths College, and is a Professor of Fine Art from Wolverhampton University and a Doctor in Civil Law from Northumbria University.

    Jane has been a working as part of an artist collaboration with her twin sister Louise Wilson for over two decades. Graduating in the 1989 with a joint degree show in Dundee and Newcastle, then as postgraduate in a working collaboration from Goldsmiths College in 1992, Jane and Louise Wilson have since 1990 gained a national and international reputation as artists working with photography and moving image, installation as an expanded form of cinema and lens-based media.

    In 1999 Jane and Louise were nominated for The Turner Prize for our multi-screen installation Gamma (presently on show at The Schaulager Museum, Basel, in the exhibition FUTURE/PRESENT).

    Jane and Louise were awarded a DAAD Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst Berliner Kunstlerprogramm, Berlin/Hanover Germany in 1996-97, IASPIS International Artist Studio Programme Stockholme in 2000-2001 and a three-month Residency at the School of Fine Arts Christchurch, New Zealand, with SOFA Gallery in 2004. The Wilson sisters have held many exhibitions in the UK and internationally in places such as Kazakhstan, the USA, Canada, Japan and throughout Europe.

    Most recently their photographic series the Sealander works, taken along the Normandy coastline of the bunkers that formed part of The Atlantic Wall, are on show at Folkwang Museum Essen in exhibition Conflict, Time, Photography. Future projects will include a two person exhibition at MIMA Middlesbrough; at ARCO, Madrid (2016); at the Getty (2017); and a presentation at the The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (2018).

    Jane has also taught at Goldsmiths College, the Kunst Academy in Oslo, Glasgow School of Art and is currently a Research Professor in Fine Art at Wolverhampton University.

    Show more
  • Practice

  • Jane and Louise Wilson’s work has often centred on abandoned buildings, which are imbued with the presence and ideology of the original occupants. Through carefully choreographed film installations, sound works and photography they have explored some of Europe’s least accessible sites including the former Stasi Prison in Berlin, the British Houses of Parliament and the huge Star City complex in Moscow, a key site of the Russian Space Programme.

    Their work Stasi City (1997) is a chilling marriage of subject and form. Video, especially in the context of an organization like the Stasi, is inevitably associated with surveillance and surreptitious image-gathering. It is a clandestine activity. To see these images gathered from the deserted hallways and offices of the Stasi building and then projected in such an epic form is deeply disturbing. 'The installation conjures feelings of unspeakable dread,' says the filmmaker Atom Egoyan. 'Stasi City is a brilliant exploration of the banality of evil, as expressed in an obsessive detailing of its abandoned shrine.' (The Telegraph, 4 September 1999.)

    Jane and Louise have also filmed in the British Houses of Parliament, creating Parliament, a Third House (1999); in the huge Star City complex in Moscow, creating the installation Star City (2000); and in Baikonor in Kazakstan, a key site of the Russian Space Programme, resulting in Proton, Unity, Energy, Blizzard (2000). 

    In 1999 Jane and Louise were nominated for The Turner Prize for the multi-screen installation Gamma (presently on show at The Schaulager Museum, Basel, in the exhibition FUTURE/PRESENT, 2015). 

    Show more
  • External collaborations

  • Board Member of DACS (Design and Artists Copyright Society), 2014–2017 as well as Artist’s Resale Right and Copyright Licensing Member of DACS.

    Member of Delfina Foundation's Strategic Advisory Panel since 2013
    Show more
  • Publications, exhibitions and other outcomes

  • Selected Solo and Group Exhibitions

    Conflict, Time and Photography, Tate Modern, 2014–15

    Ruin Lust, Tate Britain, 2014

    Unfolding the Aryan Papers (2009) on show in LACMA, LA as part of the Stanley Kubrick Retrospective, 2013

    The Toxic Camera, The Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester, 2012–13

    Sharjah Biennial, 2011

    Tempo Suspenso, CGAC, Santiago de Compostela, Spain, 2010–11

    Suspending Time, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Lisbon, Portugal 2010–11

    Spiteful of Dream, Quad Gallery, Derby, 2008

    Out of Time, Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2006

    Remind, Kunsthaus Bregenz, Austria, 2003

    Moving Pictures, Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, 2003

    A Free and Anonymous Movement, Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead, 2003

    Istanbul Biennial, 2001

    Korean Biennial, 2000

    Carnegie International, 1999

    Selected Catalogues and Publications

    Rugoff, R. (2015) History is Now: Seven Artists take on Britain, London: Hayward Publishing

    Dillon, B. (2014) Ruin lust: Artists' Fascination with Ruins, from Turner to the Present Day, London: Tate Publishing

    Wilson, J. & Wilson, L. (2011), Jane & Louise Wilson: Tempo Suspenso, Santiago de Compostela: Centro Galego de Arte Contemporánea

    Wilson, J. & Wilson, L. (2008), Jane & Louise Wilson, Derby: Quad

    Show more
  • Awards and Grants

  • 2014: Arts Council of England, Grants for Arts Award for Undead Sun

    2012: Film London Artists’ Moving Image Network (FLAMIN) for The Toxic Camera

    2008 Cinema Extreme Film 4 Award for Songs for my Mother (2009)

Selected work


Current and recent research

History is Now: Seven Artists Take on Britain
Exhibition and Publication
Hayward Gallery, Southbank Centre, London
Tue 10 Feb 2015–Sun 26 Apr 2015

A reflection on 70 years of history in the lead up to the May general election, this exhibition provided a series of focus points for examination and enquiry across the period. Artists Richard Wentworth, John Akomfrah, Jane and Louise Wilson, Hannah Starkey, Roger Hiorns, Simon Fujiwara artists were invited to curate sections which bring together a set of thematic ideas situated in a particular historical moment.

In this exhibition Jane and Louise Wilson explored episodes of social and political unrest that have shaped Britain during the late twentieth century, paying attention to the spaces in which these episodes have taken place and the ways in which artists have responded to them. Sites included Peterlee, County Durham, and the legacy of Victor Pasmore's modernist architectural contributions to the town, as well as an artistic intervention led by Stuart Brisley in the late 1970s; Greenham Common where during the 1980s thousands of women gathered at Royal Air Force Station to protest against nuclear armaments; and Northern Ireland during the Troubles (1966-98).

Undead Sun, 2014
Video, 12 mins 39 seconds, gauze cube, gauze wall elements and vertical gauze Fins

Undead Sun was commissioned by Film and Video Umbrella, for Imperial War Museums, in partnership with MIMA, Middlesbrough and Wolverhampton Art Gallery to mark the Centenary of the First World War. The work explores perspectives on visibility, technology, camouflage and the reconstruction of narratives surrounding the conflict. Much of the imagery in the film was inspired by the visual culture of the period. Uneasy, dream-like sequences are acted out against the ominous backdrop of a giant wind tunnel. These staged vignettes offer glimpses of individual, human-scale dramas, as well as intimations of the darker side of the society of the time. The film concludes by referencing a First World War account of an un-named conscientious objector, stripping naked and shredding the uniform that he had been forced to wear. It alludes not only to the First World War, but to protest against subsequent wars. Alluding to the threat of exposure from above, Undead Sun investigates ideas of vision, viewpoints and the visible. The film was selected for the Rotterdam Film Festival where it received its cinema premiere in 2015.  

The Toxic Camera, 2012
Video, 19 minutes, gauze box, 2 mirrors, single monitor.

The Toxic Camera reflects upon the Chernobyl disaster, and was inspired by the film Chernobyl: A Chronicle of Difficult Weeks made by the Soviet filmmaker Volodymyr Shevchenko in the days immediately following the accident. Jane has been making ambitious film works for over 20 years, principally for gallery exhibition, this continues her history of making films in unique, and difficult-to-access locations. The narrative includes the story of the camera that Shevchenko used which became so highly radioactive that it was subsequently buried on the outskirts of Kiev. The toxicity of Shevchenko’s camera acts a metaphor for the vulnerable nature of the landscape and the human body, both being irretrievably damaged by radiation in Chernobyl. The film was selected for the Rotterdam Film Festival where it received its cinema premiere in 2013.

Face Scripting: What did the building see?  2011

Duration (12 min) comprised of a single screen projection, 2 mirrors, gauze box and suspended monitor.

The suspended monitor screened simultaneously the YouTube film made from CCTV by the Dubai state police. The installation was inspired by the events that took place in the Al Bustan Rotanna Hotel in Dubai, January 2010. The assassination of a Hamas operative, Mahmoud Al-Mabhouh, in a hotel room in Dubai, by Israeli Mossad operatives on stolen identities and assumed aliases, which was a starting point for reflection on a series of inversions. Face Scripting asks what the building witnesses – of human interference with its containment of a history or story, or indeed of the history itself? It was exhibited as part of Sharjah Biennial 2011.

Atomgrad (Nature Abhors a Vacuum), 2010 
I-VIII, eight c-type, 180cm x270cm prints from 10x8 negative.

The photographs were taken in the abandoned, and now almost entirely uninhabited town of Pripyat, situated within the 30km wide Exclusion Zone around the site of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster. The works take their title from term used by Ukrainian locals to refer to the former ‘Atomic City’ founded in 1970 to house workers from the nearby Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, and deserted just sixteen years later. Jane has been developing a new body of artwork in response to the 25th anniversary of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster. The greatest ecological catastrophe humankind has ever seen, Chernobyl is the most significant nuclear disaster to date, and has been the subject of increased reflection in the light of the recent explosion at the Fukishima nuclear plant. A new series of photographic works from this ongoing investigation were premiered at John Hansard Gallery, 2011.