Sally O'Reilly


  • Sally O’Reilly is a writer, publishing and distributing texts in many formats, from art magazines and performance lectures to video and opera. She is a part-time Tutor on the Painting programme in the School of Arts & Humanities at the Royal College of Art, where she has taught since 2010.

  • Biography

  • O’Reilly has contributed to several art magazines, including Art Monthly, Art Review, Frieze and Cabinet, and has written numerous exhibition catalogue essays for venues that range from independent artist-run project spaces to national museums such as Tate, London, and Mori Museum, Tokyo.

    She has also written the libretto for the opera The Virtues of Things, which premiered at the Royal Opera House in 2015, a monograph on Mark Wallinger (Tate Publishing, 2015) and The Body in Contemporary Art (Thames & Hudson, 2009). She was writer in residence at the Whitechapel Art Gallery (2010–11), producer and co-writer of The Last of the Red Wine, a radio sitcom set in the art world (ICA, London, 2011), and co-editor of Implicasphere (2003–8), an interdisciplinary broadsheet. Her short fiction has been published or otherwise distributed by Art & Music, Art on the Underground, Artenol, Cabinet, Contemporary Art Society and Government Art Collection.

    Current and upcoming projects include Writer in Residence at Modern Art Oxford for its 50th anniversary year (2016), writing the libretto for an oratorio to be performed at Inner Temple Church, London (Nov 2016), and a comic novel, Crude, on the themes of academia, oil and sensuality.

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  • Practice

  • Through an interdisciplinary writing practice, O’Reilly investigates the potential of intertwining academic research and fantastical narrative. This merging of information and fiction genres and methodologies is intended to force a more marked overlap between cultural and knowledge production and distribution. Her writing draws on vernacular from specialist, technological quarters as well as commonplace language to explore mechanisms of expression from within techno-economic networks.

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  • External collaborations

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

  • Publications, exhibitions and other outcomes

  • Publications

    O’Reilly, S. (2015) ‘Now More Concentrated’, Artenol, New York, Winter

    O’Reilly, S. (2014) Mark Wallinger, London: Tate Publications

    O’Reilly, S. (2012) ‘On Why Soup is So Bad for Diurnal Rhythms’, Cabinet, 44

    O’Reilly, S. (2011) ‘Manicular Therapy’, What's Next? 100 Years of the Contemporary Art Society: Inside Public Collections, London: CAS

    O’Reilly, S. (2009) The Body in Contemporary Art, London: Thames & Hudson


    The Virtues of Things (2015), Royal Opera House, Opera North, Aldeburgh Music

    Manual Flasher, Moderna Museet, Stockholm (2014); Camden Arts Centre, London (2013); Z33, Hasselt (2012)

    Catachresis in Pieces (2012), Rietveld Academy, Amsterdam; Whitechapel Art Gallery, London

    Play in the Dark II (2011), performance, FIAC, Paris


    Sequences VII (2015), Reykjavik

    Ways of Working, According to an Office Desk (2014), Upominki, Rotterdam

    Film in Space (2012) in: Lucy Reynolds’ Anthology, Camden Arts Centre, London

    All The Knives (2012), Z33, Hasselt

    Writers in Residence: Maria Fusco & Sally O’Reilly (2012), Whitechapel Gallery, London

    An action, event or other thing that occurs or happens (2011), One Thoresby Street, Nottingham

    The Last of the Red Wine, The Sequel/Prequel (2011), Project, Dublin

    Fig. 2 (2011), David Roberts Art Foundations, London

    Kent Cultural Baton (2011)

    Narrative Show (2011), Eastside Projects, Birmingham


    Dysfunctional Comedy (2014), Weld, Stockholm

    Toby Christian: The Tread and the Rise (2013), Baró Galeria, Sao Paolo

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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.