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Professor Lucy Orta

Chair of Art and the Environment
London College of Fashion
Researcher Research
Lucy  Orta


Lucy Orta's visual arts practice investigates the interrelations between the individual body and community structures, exploring their diverse identities and means of cohabitation. She uses the mediums of drawing, textile sculpture, photography, film and performance to realise singular bodies of work that include: 'Refuge Wear' and 'Body Architecture', portable and autonomous habitats that reflect on issues of mobility and human survival; 'Nexus Architecture', clothing and accessories that shape modular and collective bodies through the metaphor of the social link; and 'Life Guards', wearable structures that portray both human vulnerability and resilience. Her process of representing communities often incorporates co-creation and inclusive methods, and she has collaborated with a wide range of people, often those on the margins of exclusion such as prison residents, asylum seekers, homeless and care hostel residents, to empower participants through creative practice.

Lucy co-founded Studio Orta with her partner the Argentine artist Jorge Orta in 1992 and since 2005 they co-author Lucy + Jorge Orta. Their collaborative long-term projects include: 'HortiRecycling' and '70 x 7 The Meal', interrogating the local and global food chain and the ritual of community dining; 'OrtaWater' and 'Clouds', visualising water scarcity and the problems arising from pollution and corporate control, for which they received the the Green Leaf Award for artistic excellence with an environmental message, presented by the United Nations Environment Programme in partnership with the Natural World Museum at the Nobel Peace Center in Oslo, Norway (2007); 'Antarctica', considering the effects of climate change on human migration; and 'Amazonia' that explores interwoven ecosystems and their value to our natural environment.

Lucy Orta's work has been the focus of major exhibitions at the Musée d'art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (1994); Johannesburg Biennial (1997); Weiner Secession, Vienna; Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney (1999); USF Contemporary Art Museum, Florida for which she received the Visual Arts Award from the Andy Warhol Foundation (2001); Fondazione Bevilacqua La Masa, Venice Biennale (2005); Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam (2006); Biennial of the End of the World, Ushuaia; the Antarctic Peninsula (2007); Pirelli Hangar Bicocca, Milan (2008); Natural History Museum, London (2010); Shanghai Biennale; MAXXI National Museum of XXI Century Arts, Rome (2012); Terrace Wires, St Pancras International, London; The Johnson Museum, Cornell; Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Wakefield (2013); Parc de la Villette, Paris; Nuit Blanche, Calgary (2014); London Museum Ontario, Canada (2015); Attenborough Arts Centre, Leicester; City Gallery and Museum, Peterborough (2016); Humber Street Gallery, Hull; Frieze Projects, London (2017) Ikon Gallery, Birmingham; Fountains Abbey Studley Royal, Ripon; European Cultural Capital Leeuwarden-Fryslân (2018); Palazzo Vecchio, Museo Salvatore Ferragamo, Museo Novecento, Florence (2019); Les Tanneries centre d'art contemporain, Amilly; Drawing Lab, Paris (2020); Diversity United, Berlin, Paris, Moscow (2021).

Lucy Orta is the youngest female artist to be published by Phaidon Contemporary Artist Collection (2003). In recognition of her social practice, the Design Academy Eindhoven nominated as MA Head of 'Man & Humanity', the inaugural sustainable design (2002). Lucy has been a Professor at London College of Fashion since 2002. She is a member of the Centre for Sustainable Fashion and as Chair of Art and the Environment she founded the Art for the Environment International Artist in Residency Programme at the University of the Arts London. To acknowledge her academic contribution to the visual arts, Lucy has received an honorary Master of Arts from Nottingham Trent University and an honorary Doctor of Letters from the University of Brighton.

Grants and awards

(Figures indicate amount awarded to UAL)

  • Arts and Humanities Research Council, Decolonising Fashion and Textiles: Design for Cultural Sustainability with Refugee Communities, £249,546.00, (2022-2024)
  • Arts Council England, Traces: Stories of Migration, £29,945.00, (2022-2023)
  • Marlands 2022, The Lost Species (Vol 2), £9,000.00, (2022-2022)
  • Foundation for Future London, Traces: Stories of Migration, £6,000.00, (2022-2022)
  • University College London, Masking: Ecology, Crisis & Symbolism, £2,000.00, (2020-2021)
  • Arts Council England, Raft of the Medusa, final cycle, £7,559.00, (2019-2020)
  • Historic England, Procession Banners, £30,000.00, (2018-2018)
  • Arts Council England, Clouds: Raft of the Medusa, £29,500.00, (2013-2013)
  • Arts Council South East, Common ground: rediscovering Greenham’s Cold War landscape, £34,000.00, (2004-2010)
  • EU Culture Program (Education, Audio visual and Culture Executive Agency), EU-Roma: European Roma Mapping, €195.73, (2007-2009)
  • Wellcome Trust, Ethereal Bodies, £15,000.00, (2003-2004)
  • Arts Council England, Transgressing Fashion # 0204, Nexus Architecture, £2,000.00, (2004-2004)
  • Arts and Humanities Research Council, Dwelling X: Synoecismic Dwelling, £5,000.00, (2003-2003)
  • Henry Moore Foundation, Dwelling X: Synoecismic Dwelling, £5,000.00, (2003-2003)

Research Outputs

Art/Design item

Book Section



Current research students

  • Eldina Begic, How to wear utopia: a dress manual for the socialist future. (Lead supervisor)
  • Yunpei Li, Body, space and air: the embodied spatial relationship of inflatable fashion (Lead supervisor)

Past research students

  • Paul Bevan, Photographic Practice and the Place of Superposition: Status, Observation, Event (Lead supervisor)
  • M Cook-Obregon, MA Fashion Futures
  • Matina Kousidi, Architecture sur Mesure: Habitat | Abito - Habitus, Associate Research Degree Student, University of Rome Sapienza, Completed July 2013 (Joint supervisor)
  • Christina Lodahl Haxholm, MA Fashion Futures (Joint supervisor)
  • Ania Zoltkowski, MA Fashion Futures (Joint supervisor)


Fine art
Textiles and materials
Performance and design for theatre and screen