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Sally O'Reilly


  • Writer Sally O’Reilly writes for performance, page and video. She is a Visiting Lecturer on both the Writing programme and the Contemporary Art Practice programme. She has been teaching at the college since 2010.

  • Biography

  • O’Reilly’s art criticism has been published in UK and international art magazines and she has written exhibition catalogue texts for museum and gallery shows worldwide. She also exhibits text-based work and devises and produces performance events for galleries, museums, theatres and public spaces.

    Publications include the novella The Ambivalents (Cabinet, NY, 2017), the novel Crude (Eros Press, 2016), a monograph on Mark Wallinger (Tate Publishing, 2014), The Body in Contemporary Art (Thames & Hudson, 2009) and the interdisciplinary broadsheet Implicasphere (co-editor, 2003-8).

     She has written the libretti for the operas The Virtues of Things (Royal Opera, Aldeburgh Music, Opera North, 2015) and And London Burned (Temple Music Foundation, 2016).

    Her short fiction has been published by Cabinet magazine, Various Small Fires, Artenol, Contemporary Art Society, Picpus and London Underground.

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  • Practice

  • O’Reilly investigates the potential of intertwining academic research and fantastical narrative. The merging of information and fiction genres and methodologies makes apparent the many different types of knowledges always in play. Her writing draws on specialist, technological vernacular as well as commonplace language, and explores the psycho-social mechanisms of expression and influence within techno-economic networks.

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  • External collaborations

  • O’Reilly teaches at several other institutions and schools, including the Royal Academy Schools and Open School East.  

  • Publications, exhibitions and other outcomes

  • Publications 

    The Ambivalents, New York: Cabinet Books, 2017

    Crude, London: Eros Press, October 2016

    Mark Wallinger, London: Tate Publications, 2014

    The Body in Contemporary Art, London: Thames & Hudson, 2009


    And London Burned, with composer Matt Rogers, Inner Temple Music Foundation, 2016

    The Virtues of Things, with composer Matt Rogers, Royal Opera House, Opera North, Aldeburgh Music, 2015

    Song for Insomniac Riggers, with composer Christopher McCormack, Wigmore Hall, 2015

    Concurrent, with composer Matt Rogers, Tête-a-Tête Opera Festival, Riverside Studios, 2013


    I Hear Horses, with James M’Kay, Whitstable Biennale, June 2018 

    Night-Sea Shore and In the End You Will Always Love Me, with Kit Downes, ‘Colouring the Void’, Royal College of Art, May 2018

    The Doubting Colloquy, Whitechapel Gallery, Nov 2017

    The Ends, with musician Corentin Chassard, Cabinet magazine’s 'School of Death', Pompidou Centre, Paris, Oct 2016

    Live Illuminated Manuscript 3: Four Legs Good, with musician Chris Vatalaro, Modern Art Oxford, Oct 2016

    The Annual Retrieval, Blackrock + Matt's Gallery Artists Residency, Lydney Park Estate, Glos., 2016

    Live Illuminated Manuscript 2: The Dinner, with musician Kit Downes, Modern Art Oxford, Aug 2016

    Live Illuminated Manuscript 1: Police Control, with musician Emma Smith, Modern Art Oxford, Feb 2016

    Infernal Gallop, with the Dolly Mixtures, Literary Kitchen Festival, London, 2015

    Blushing as involuntary self-publication: an experiment in one-sidedness, ‘Cabinet presents...’ at Copeland Book Market, London, 2015

    Manual Flasher, Moderna Museet, Stockholm, 2014; Camden Arts Centre, London, 2013; Z33, Hasselt, 2012
    Portunalia, in collaboration with Lisa Skuret, Peer, 2014

    Catachresis in Pieces, ‘We Are The Time’, Rietveld Academy, Amsterdam, 2012

    Play in the Dark II, FIAC, Paris, 2011

    The Last of the Red Wine, Whitechapel Gallery and ICA, London, with Doug Fishbone, Chris Head, Hayley Newman, Kim Noble, Michelle Owoo, Caroline Smith, Phil Whelans, Bedwyr Williams, 2010-11


    ‘Writer in Residence’, Whitechapel Gallery, London, 2012

    ‘Last of the Red Wine: The Prequel/Sequel’, Project Arts Centre, Dublin, 2011-12

    ‘The Devil’s Acre’, collaboration with Will Cooper, Government Art Collection, 2011;

    'Magic Show', co-curated with Jonathan Allen, Hayward Gallery Touring Programme: Quad, Derby; Grundy,Blackpool; Pump House Gallery, London; 2009-2010

    'Smoke', co-curated with Cathy Haynes, Pump House Gallery, London, 2008



    Writer in Residence, Modern Art Oxford, 2016

    Writer in Residence, Whitechapel Gallery, London, 2010-11



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  • Awards and Grants

  • (2013) Paddy and Joan Leigh-Fermor Arts Fund Award; writing and research of the novel Crude.

    (2011) Joanna Drew Travel Bursary; writing and research of the novel Crude

Selected work


Research interests

O’Reilly’s current research is on ambiguity – particularly contemporary art’s indeterminacy and the political potential of employing textual ambiguities.