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Sally O’Reilly writes for the page and makes videos and performances with formal play and narrative complexity.

Sally has been a tutor at the college since 2010: in the Painting programme, in Contemporary Art Practice, and now the Writing programme.

She is also the UCU Environment Officer and a founding member of the Green Futures Group.

Sally worked as a freelance art critic, contributing to international art magazines and writing for galleries worldwide, before turning to fiction and hybrid forms of writing and making

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Sally now works as a writer and artist, publishing with independent presses, working solo or collaborating with musicians, artists, designers and performers on pieces for art, music and theatre venues, as well as non-art places.

She is interested in the relations between technologized infrastructure and psycho-social experience. She often approaches a piece by way of the histories or usages of its site, which might be as singular as a community lido near a ruined Roman temple, or the tabletop of a highspeed train running through Kent. But even a book or an opera house provide materials, structures and behaviours to probe.

Sally has written the novel, Crude (London: Eros, 2016), the novella The Ambivalents (New York: Cabinet, 2017), libretti for two operas, The Virtues of Things (Royal Opera, Opera North, Aldeburgh Music, 2015) and And London Burned (Inner Temple Music Foundation, 2016), and several short stories and hybrid essays published by Cabinet magazine, London Underground, Picpus and Various Small Fires, among others.

Help in Cucumbers, a critical fiction about pub life and art in public space, will be published by JOAN in 2023. Her spoken word and music album with Kit Downes, Where They Gather, was released in October 2022, which they also perform live.

Shortlisted, David and Yuko Juda Art Foundation Award, 2019

Longlisted, Republic of Consciousness Prize, 2017

Paddy and Joan Leigh-Fermor Arts Fund Award, 2013

Exhibitions & Screenings

(2021). Three Scoop Complicator, Mattflix, Matt’s Gallery, London.

(2021). Swirl of Words / Swirl of Worlds. Peer, London.

(2019). David and Yuko Juda Art Foundation Award. Annely Juda Gallery, London.

(2017). So he pulled the right levers and you did the asking, Artlink, Hull, UK.

(2017). The Museum of Modern Comedy in Art (MoMCo) – A Proposal, Project Arts Centre, Dublin.

(2016). Now it is Permitted. Swedenborg Society, London.

(2016). Blackrock + Matt's Gallery Artists’ Residency, Lydney Park Estate, Glos., UK.

(2016). Nothing Happens, Twice. Harris Museum, Preston, UK.

(2015). Sequences VII. Reykjavic.

Publications, Fiction

(2023). Help in Cucumbers. London: JOAN publishing.

(2017). The Ambivalents. New York: Cabinet Books.

(2016). Crude. London: Eros Press.

O’Reilly, S. and Rogers, M. (2016). Essays on Sculpture: The Virtues of Things. Leeds: Henry Moore Institute.

Operas / Spoken Word & Music

O’Reilly, S. and Downes, K. (2022). Where They Gather. London: October House Records.

O’Reilly, S. and Rogers, M. (2020). She Described It to Death. London: Royal Opera.

O’Reilly, S. and Rogers, M. (2016). And London Burned. London: Inner Temple Music Foundation.

O’Reilly, S. and Rogers, M. (2015). The Virtues of Things. Royal Opera, Opera North, Aldeburgh Music.

Short Fiction & Hybrid Forms

(2022). ‘A Pigeon on the Window’. In: Gary Zhexi Zhang and Waste Paper Opera, Dead Cat Bounce, London: Somerset House.

(2022). ‘How It Is That Such Is So (Amiable Version)’. London: Sid Motion Gallery.

(2022). ‘The Mess’, Open Pen, 29, unpag.

(2021). ‘The Seam and the Drop’, Mercurius (online).

(2021). ‘The Sops’, Mycelia, 4, pp. 28-29.

(2020). ‘The Devil's Chord or a Tap on the Shoulder?: Recomposing the soundscape of the intensive care unit’, Cabinet (online).

(2019). ‘What Precisely do You Mean by ... “I’m On a Train”?’, Slug (online).

(2017). ‘I Feel it is my Duty to Speak Out’, New York & Berlin: Cabinet, 62, pp. 62-65.

(2017). ‘Dear Sirs’, Various Small Fires (online).

(2016). ‘The Deputation’. In: Allen, J., ed., Lost Envoy: The Tarot Deck of Austin Osman Spare, London: Strange Attractor, pp. 103-108.

(2015). ‘Now More Concentrated’, Artenol, New York, Winter, pp. 16-20.

Publications: Non-Fiction

(2022), ‘Ground’. In: Nina Canell, ed., Shell Reader, Berlin: Berlinischegalerie, pp. 313-325.

(2016). ‘Unhinged’. In: Páldi, L. Westphalen, O., eds., Dysfunctional Comedy, London: Sternberg, pp. 103-110.

(2014). Mark Wallinger, London: Tate Publications.

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


O’Reilly, S. and Downes, K., with Werner, H. and Baillie, M. (2022). Where They Gather, Amadeus Centre, London.

O’Reilly, S. and Downes, K., with Goller, R. and Challenger, T. (2021). Even at Home We are Never Alone. Grand Junction, London.

(2019). Pageant of the Kept and The Ends. In: Llawn, Llandudno, Wales.

O’Reilly, S. and M’Kay, J. (2018), I Hear Horses. In: Whitstable Biennale, Ebbsfleet, Kent, UK.

(2017). The Doubting Colloquy, Whitechapel Gallery, London.

O’Reilly, S. with Vatalaro, C., Downes, K. and Smith, E. (2016). Live Illuminated Manuscripts 1, 2 & 3, Modern Art Oxford.

O’Reilly, S. with Chassard, C. (2016). The Ends. In: School of Death, Pompidou Centre, Paris.

O’Reilly, S. with Thomson, R. (2016). The Annual Retrieval. In: Blackrock + Matt’s Gallery Artists Residency, Lydney Park Estate, Glos., UK.

(2019) Editor at Large, Cabinet magazine

(2010-18) Editor, Talking Pages, RNIB volunteers’ newsletter

(2006-11) Advisory board, Women’s Art Library/MAKE

Research students