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Professor Lucy

Job title
UAL Chair of Art in the Environment and Member of Centre for Sustainable Fashion
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Professor Lucy Orta


Lucy Orta’s practice as an artist focuses on social and ecological issues, employing a diversity of media including, drawing, sculpture, installation, couture, photography, video and performance. She often works with communities to create large-scale public projects and exhibits objects resulting from her research in major museums internationally.

Refuge Wear and Body Architecture are studies for portable minimum habitats that bridge architecture and dress, and her Nexus Architecture visualizes the ‘social link’ through performances with communities.

HortiRecycling interrogates the local and global food chains, and 70x7 The Meal the ritual of eating through open-air community banquets that she stages in unusual settings.

OrtaWater, previewed at the 2005 Venice Biennale, deals with water scarcity and the problems arising from pollution, and Antarctica commissioned by the End of the World Biennale, draws from an expedition to the Antarctic in 2007, to highlight the need to consider the dignity of people suffering as a consequence of climate change, and was a focus of the 2015 COP21 Climate Summit in Paris.

In 2010, the Natural History Museum supported her expedition to the Amazon for the International Year of Biodiversity. The resulting works Amazonia, draw attention to the value of nature to our daily lives and survival, they were exhibited in the 2013 and 2015 Venice Biennales. In 2013 Lucy was awarded the inaugural Terrace Wires public art commission for St Pancras International London with Clouds-Meteoros.


Research Interests

Sculpture, installation, performance, social practice, transdisciplinarity.

Public speaking themes

Fine art, sculpture, installation, performance, public art, international commissioning of art, biennales, museum exhibitions, social practice, art & activism, trans-disciplinarity, Paris residencies, collaborative working.

Research Statement

Lucy Orta’s artistic practice investigates the boundaries between the body and architecture, exploring their common social factors. She uses the media of drawing, sculpture, performance, video and photography to realise singular bodies of work, including: Refuge Wear and Body Architecture; portable, lightweight, and autonomous structures representing issues of mobility and survival. Nexus Architecture, public interventions in which participants connect to each other, shaping modular and collective structures that visualize the concept of the social link. Life Guards, reflects on the body as a metaphorical supportive framework. Since 2005, her work has become more collaborative, exploring issues relating to social and environmental actualities, including: Water, Food, Antarctica, Amazonia, Clouds, and Spirits.

Major solo exhibitions include: Johannesburg Biennial (1997); Weiner Secession, Vienna (1999); Barbican Art Gallery, London (2005); Fondazione Bevilacqua La Masa, Venice Biennale (2005); Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam (2006); Biennial of the End of the World, Ushuaia; Antarctic Peninsula (2007); Hangar Bicocca spazio d’arte, Milan (2008); Natural History Museum, London (2010); Shanghai Biennale; Tufts University Art Gallery, Medford; 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).

Monographs about her work include:


  • Eldina Begic - How to wear utopia: a dress manual for the socialist future.
  • Paul Bevan - Photography performed: what are the possibilities when photography becomes an act of its own investigation and does this embody the void between image and event.
  • Matina Kousidi, - Architecture sur Mesure: Habitat | Abito - Habitus, Associate Research Degree Student, University of Rome Sapienza, Completed July 2013