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Julia Hopkins

MA work

The last 'ee aw' of Buridan's Ass

I have been toying with the idea of life as 'doing time'; a phrase used by the American artist-activist David Wojnarowicz (1954-1992). This follows on from a period of study concerning ways in which artists and philosophers have addressed the question of life's meaning. A common tool for approaching such difficult topics is humour, especially satire. This is true of my own work.

Brazilian artist Lygia Clark (1920-1988) talked about ‘catching herself in a moment of improvisation’. For me, it is about catching myself in a moment of transgression, or flippancy; like a child who, frustrated at not being able to grasp something in class, mocks it instead. As adults we are expected to contain our frustration and outrage. Such expectations do not stop at the doors of art schools. Diplomacy is everything and one must conform to get on. In the studio I set myself durational and often arduous tasks with the hope of eventually provoking moments of revolt. When I am successful, the things that emerge walk a fine line between the puerile, the sardonically amusing and the absurd. 

Rhythm and repetition can be found throughout my work. It is both soothing and hypnotic and relates to my interest in the passing of time. The lighting in my multimedia installation, ‘The Last ‘ee aw’ of Buridan’s Ass’ illuminates one object after another, creating a slow rhythm, around and around the space. A ticking metronome counts sixteen one-second beats. Just before the sixteenth beat and before the light switches focus, the metronome performs a ‘silly step’; a subtle reference to a silly walk that my late father taught my brother and I when we were children. I suspect that he was influenced by that hilarious Monty Python sketch, ‘The Ministry of Silly Walks’ (1970). I am sure now that the nervous glee and liberation I felt whilst walking that silly walk with my father was closely related to my young self’s instinctive understanding that the given (the plain old walk) was being knowingly subverted.


  • MA Degree


    School of Arts & Humanities


    MA Painting, 2018

  • Degrees

  • BSc Mathematics, Operational Research, Economics and Statistics, Warwick University, 1997; MSc Computer Science, University of Wales, Swansea, 1998; BA Fine Art, Cardiff School of Art and Design, 2015
  • Exhibitions

  • Watch This Space, Darnley Gallery, London, 2018; COMMON SPACE, Collegium Artisticum, Sarajevo, 2018; Thumbnails, Hockney Gallery (RCA), London, 2018; Howler, G39, Cardiff, 2017; Graduate Showcase 2016, Mission Gallery, Swansea, 2016; Pick of Graduates 2016, Cardiff M.A.D.E., Cardiff, 2016
  • Awards

  • Ede and Ravenscroft Award, 2015; Helen Gregory Memorial Trust Award, 2015