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Tim O'Riley

Research Supervisor
Chelsea College of Arts
Researcher Research
Timothy  O'Riley


Tim O’Riley studied at Farnham, Leicester and Chelsea College of Art and Design. He has been central to the development of practice-based research in relation to art practice and completed UAL’s first PhD in July 1998. He was awarded an AHRC fellowship in the Creative and Performing Arts based at Chelsea from 2004 - 2008.

Much of O’Riley’s thinking, practice and technical skills are located in the realm of technological media in relation to fine art. The computer is central to his thinking both as a communication device, a creative tool and a medium in itself, albeit one that has a tendency to absorb other media.

Research (with a lowercase 'r') is a means of thinking, of generating a pool of knowledge or experience that can be drawn on, a structure that can enable new ways of thinking and doing. It is a process of looking for something outside of one's everyday orbit, whether that thing is an idea, a place, a phenomenon, a process etc.

Growing up in the space age and an emerging computerised world, the speed with which things become obsolescent, call it the redundancy of progress, remains startling. With this in mind and as a kind of antidote to a prevailing theory of achievement, curiosity and serendipity are of fundamental importance.

Science is embedded in every aspect of life, practically and philosophically. Through accident or invention, he has found himself looking at science as a subject, its impenetrability often leading him to focus on its human aspects. Over the past decade, for example, he has visited various astronomical observatories around the world. These sites are intriguing in both a cultural sense (the life that surrounds them, what they seem to embody) and for what they signify in terms of theoretical and practical approaches to reality. Experiences like this have remained a touchstone for thinking and generating ideas about the world and for artworks: the connectedness of the large and small; inner space; incompleteness; serendipity as a means to develop or generate work.

Research Outputs

Art/Design item



Book Section

Conference, Symposium or Workshop item



Current research students

  • Christian Edwardes, Peregrinations with Maps and Landscapes: Narrating the Spaces of Practice in Fine Art. (Lead supervisor)
  • Chanya Hetayothin, Thai Shadow Puppets: Nang Talung Animated Adaptation. (Lead supervisor)
  • Katrine Hjelde, Constructing a Reflective Site: Practice between art and pedagogy in the art school. (Lead supervisor)
  • Aaron McPeake, Nibbling at Clouds: The Visual Artist Encounters Adventitious Blindness (Lead supervisor)
  • Gabriela Vaz-Pinheiro, Art from place: the expression of cultural memory in the urban environment and in place-specific art interventions. (Lead supervisor)
  • Charlotte Webb, Noodle, noodle, cat: extra-subjective authorship in web-based art practice (Lead supervisor)

Past research students