Ms Anna Lucas

Job: Senior Lecturer Lens Based Media

Faculty: Arts, Design and Humanities

School/department: School of Visual and Performing Arts

Research group(s): Fine Art Practice Group

Address: De Montfort University, The Gateway, Leicester, UK, LE1 9BH

T: +44 (0)116 207 8423




Personal profile

Anna Lucas is a London based artist predominantly known for her work with film and video.  She also makes drawings and still images. Her practice engages and develops from observations of social networks and individuals in response to specific geographic and architectural locations. Underlying these themes the work also refers to the processes of film-making and the materiality of film itself.

She is interested in the camera as a research tool and the simultaneous engagement and detachment that occurs in the moment of looking through a lens.  Her camera unobtrusively documents, distancing her subjects from the viewer, yet at the same time encourages a rigorous engagement with features of everyday life.

Her early films explored how the moment of filming fictionalises reality and the way in which people’s behaviour and interaction with a location is inevitably altered by the presence of the camera.

Her more recent 16mm films and videos often observe amateur experts and technicians – people who have a vernacular knowledge frequently related to the natural world, folklore or to pedagogical institutions.  It is how these people are absorbed in their own act of looking, studying, playing and praying, rather than the subject of their interest that is the focus of her work. She is also attracted by the functional architecture of escapism such as a hide, observatory, lab, studio and the connection these spaces have with the cinema or gallery experience. 

Anna Lucas’ blind carbon drawings collectively entitled Blind Movies were the starting point for Land of Silence and Darkness, a series of events around perception and neuroscience she organised as part of a Wellcome Fellowship at the Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics and Ruskin School of Fine Art and Drawing at Oxford University in 2008. This ongoing enquiry into vision and perception informed the studio-based process for Things that had stories rubbed out 2010.

Anna Lucas has exhibited widely, with recent screenings and exhibitions at Latitude Festival, Outpost, Norwich, Tate Modern, Olsen, Leeds, Whitstable Biennale 2010.  Solo shows include FACT, Liverpool (2007), Adrift, Chisenhale Gallery, London (2004), Bud, Spike Island, Bristol and Anna Schwartz Gallery, Melbourne (2003). Her film Uncommon was screened in a pony box by pedal power on Powerstock Common, Dorset in June 2012. 

Anna Lucas’ work is distributed by LUX

Publications and outputs 

  • Slow Reveal
    Slow Reveal Scott, F.S.; Lucas, Anna; Turvey, L. Slow Reveal is a conversation between artists Anna Lucas, Frances Scott, and writer Leanne Turvey (collaborating as ALF), around the production of two films: Anna Lucas’s Opi 21, Oopsy Daisy, Tiger Lily (2014) and Frances Scott’s Apex (2014), initially commissioned by Tintype Gallery for ESSEX ROAD, eight films responding to the mile-long route in north London. Anna and Frances shared production processes, drawing on the same photographic material. The films intersected, whilst operating as discrete works. "Fireflies light their bioluminescence in flashes. Each species has a unique blinking pattern, their lanterns intermittently lit like semaphoric pulses. Here, the two works might be understood to be calling rhythmically to each other. Working together brought their different practices into closer proximity; the differences in the practice of one, giving a permission to explore new ways of working in the other." Leanne Turvey Slow Reveal is the first iteration for ALF of an ongoing investigation into the significance of dialogue and collaboration between artists in the creation of new work. Slow Reveal comprises an edited transcript of this conversation, epilogue-essay ‘Fireflies’, and a series of film stills sharing connections and tangential references. It isa 36 page book, with exposed colour photographic paper cover, printed in edition of 250. Its 6x4” format references the standard 35mm photographic print. The work acts as a trigger for further collaboration, readings and events, rather than an end in itself. To date these have included With Over 450 illustrations: a reading, screening and discussion with artists Anna Lucas, Frances Scott, Monica Rivas -Velasquez, writer Leanne Turvey and convened by curator writer Joyce Cronin in a photo studio in East London Oct 2017. There have also been a reading and live printing event in a photographic darkroom at De Montfort University with Dr Stacy Boldrick, University of Leicester. It has also been the starting point for From an ox to an egg, a public screening and performance event as part of Little City Studio at Phoenix Arts Centre, Leicester Nov 2017.
  • Still Life Still Lights
    Still Life Still Lights Lucas, Anna What relationships are generated between still images and object, and the image as an object on film? How does the act of looking operate as a process of research? Still Life, Still Lights focuses on the pedagogical environment and the conditions of creative thinking & material making. The outputs embed reflexivity in their concept, process and form. The underlying research questions also address the significance of artist’s processes within our political and cultural climate. This body of work has been in development over several years during which time significant collaborations and professional working relationships have enabled a deeper understanding and a variety of contexts in which to test and progress ideas. These have included studio practice, facilitated workshops, publications, learning resources, film screenings and exhibitions, events and public activities. The practice is cited in Tate publications and essays including Looking as Research – Anna Lucas, and In Site of Conversation, Tate Publishing 2017 and was widely distributed through Serpentine Galleries Summer Pavilions 2016.. In it’s various forms it has been disseminated widely both in print, on-line and through direct engagement with the public.   Existing projects/outputs as films or publications from research include Opi 21, Oopsy Daisy, Tiger Lily, Tintype Gallery exhibition and on-line presence Bench, Group Exhibition at Tintype Gallery with Sir Richard Wentworth, Turner prize winners Assemble, Borlase Smart Studio, film distributed as part of Circuit Festival, Tate St.Ives, and at The Gallery, De Montfort University curated by AMAGS MA students University of Leicester, Loose Parts, 2000 Printed objects as Learning resource and 16mm film distributed by Serpentine Gallery, London as part of the International Summer Pavilion Architecture project. Publication outcomes I have written or in which this work is cited, include Looking as research – booklet distributed online and in print by Tate Schools and Teachers In Site of Conversation – Turvey, Walton, Daly. Tate publishing 2017, Slow Reveal – Lucas, Scott, Turvey. Tintype Publishers, a limited edition artists publication for events and distribution designed by Shining Studio.   Further research in this context is continuing as PHD study The photograph as an object on film, at Kingston University.   My work is best understood and contextualised through my personal artist website
  • In Site of Conversation: On Learning with Art, Audiences and Artists
    In Site of Conversation: On Learning with Art, Audiences and Artists Lucas, Anna What does a Learning programme in an art museum afford those who engage with it? In Site of Conversation is a detailed account of the practice of the Tate Learning team, as they work on promoting a space of exchange, conversation and ideas – where the individual learning of everyone involved is equally valued. This book examines the broader questions, theories and concepts of in-gallery learning, examined in essays from Pat Thomson, Rebecca Solnit, Eve Sprague and Nicholas Addison. A useful learning resource for teachers, it also offers an insight into artist perspectives, with chapters by Harold Offeh, Jo Addison & Natasha Kidd, Anna Lucas and Alex Schady. My film work Gustav, Graham and Lee made behind the scenes in the Tate moving image collection is used as a case study for a chapter in this publication. The process of enquiry and final exhibition of the work is revealed and analysed through correspondence with all parties involved. The book also includes a chapter on Affect by Nicholas Addison centred around a workshop in which I worked with teenagers around my film Opi 21, Oopsy Daisy, Tiger Lily in relation to the Tate collection.
  • Art School (Impersonal Life Exhibition)
    Art School (Impersonal Life Exhibition) Lucas, Anna A catalogue published to accompany the exhibition Impersonal Life at Gallery 175, Seoul, curated by Songyi Son with artists Anna Lucas, Dakyuum Kim, Heeza Bahc, Jiin Juen, Sodam Lim This is a catalogue and essay including the film work Art School. It contextualises the film and research on an International level and intersects with further screenings and exhibitions of Art School.
  • Looking as research
    Looking as research Lucas, Anna Looking as research was developed from a set of questions from the Tate Learning team regarding my practice as an artist, particularly with reference to film-making. How to Research booklets provide clear yet in-depth examples of what research really looks like for artists. The booklets offer creative strategies to support a broad range of Art and Design curriculum at GCSE, BTEC, AS and A Level. Developed in conversation with artists and teachers, these resources invite consideration of the meaning and value of research within art practice. By championing research as an integral tool for developing students’ individual voices and lines of enquiry, the How to Research series aims to support engaged, contextualised, thoughtful investigations into and alongside art and artmaking. This is one of a series of pedagogic artist resources made for Tate Learning, to support teachers and members of the public in teaching and learning in relation to contemporary artists practice and the Tate collection. This resource is distributed on-line via Tate website and as a physical book to visiting teachers to the gallery. I have made several others for Tate and Serpentine Galleries.
  • Art School
    Art School Lucas, Anna Art School is a body of research that focuses on the pedagogical environment and the conditions of creative thinking & material making. The outputs are films that embed reflexivity in their concept, process and form, further contextualised through International talks, events and curated screenings about Art School and the nature of artist’s process and pedagogy. The underlying research questions also address the significance of artist’s processes within the contemporary political and cultural climate.   The first film Art School, 2015 shot over three years in a university Fine Art department, represents the generic spaces and facilities once seen in art schools worldwide. Using the camera and editing process as a research tool this work prompted a deeper investigation into the context and climate for art pedagogy including significant new commissions Art School, Kingston for Kingston University and Workshop for Tate Schools and Teachers Programme.   Art School premiered at Anthology Film Archives in New York 2015 as part of The Infinite Child: The Art School Dance Goes on Forever, programmed by Sukhdev Sandhu for The Flaherty Series chaired by Dan Fox, Editor of Frieze magazine, Eugenia Bell, Design Observer Executive Director and supported by Paper Monument. The film was central to the curatorial premise for the exhibition Impersonal Life May 2016, Gallery 175, South Korea, with catalogue & essay by Songyi Son and for a group exhibition at The Gallery, DMU June 2017, curated by Dr. Stacy Boldrick and International MA students from Museum and Gallery studies at University of Leicester. In January 2017 Art School was shown with artists films at This is an Art School - Central St Martins, at Tate Exchange, Tate Modern and as part of a curated series of films and a talk for LUX Cornwall, Tate St. Ives, March 2016. Art School – Kingston has been launched as an on-line resource for art students, and Workshop premiered as an exhibition at Tate Exchange, Switch House, Tate Modern May 2017.
  • Land of Silence and Darkness
    Land of Silence and Darkness Lucas, Anna This research investigates visual perception and the use of a camera as a research tool to observe amateur experts and technicians who have a vernacular knowledge related to the natural world, or to pedagogical institutions. In this case the research took place at the Department of Physiology and Anatomy and Genetics (DPAG) and Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art at Oxford University through a Wellcome Trust Fellowship.   Experimenting with the moment of drawing, creating rules and structures to explore the balance between instinct and intellect, I have developed a technique of blind drawing from movies to capture the time, light and formal qualities of a movie.   Working within DPAG generated questions about perception, and how the ‘physiology and anatomy’ of a film might be defined and captured in drawing and through the film. Focussing initially on movies connected to audio-visual perception, primarily Werner Herzog’s documentary Land of Silence and Darkness about a deaf and blind woman communicating through touch the work extended to live drawings and filming in the labs. As a parallel method of observing and recording through drawing, I also negotiated permission to shoot a 16mm film in the highly protected environment of the Anatomy Lab. Demonstration 50.15 follows the repetitive daily activities of the mortuary technician as he embalms and prepares bodies for medical students. The work reveals his quiet dignity and diligence within an environment more often recognised for scientific breakthroughs or ethical controversies. Further dialogue and lab visits with a perceptual neuroscientist, geneticists, anatomists and technicians at DPAG and a wider community of artists, art historians and writers at Oxford University, including an expert on Diderots’ Letter on the Blind for the Use of Those who can See extended my exploration. The challenges and experiences of working alongside scientists made us all question the validity of our research our understanding of the context and language through which art and science are assessed.   Much of this research was shared in Land of Silence and Darkness - four days of talk and action connecting movies, blindness, drawing, perception, and neuroscience in venues across Oxford. The resulting Blind Movies is a book of “blind movie and live carbon drawings’ 2006 -2009 with an essay by film writer Silke Panse. The book and film have shown widely in UK and abroad and are distributed through LUX.
  • Little White Feather and the Hunter2
    Little White Feather and the Hunter2 Lucas, Anna Little White Feather and the Hunter is a 40min, colour, stereo video and book, conceived, filmed and edited by artist Anna Lucas. Commissioned by Commissions East with Essex County Council, funded by Arts Council England for ‘Jamestown 400’ anniversary of the first English settlement in North America. Following UK screenings, further dissemination came from an exhibition/residency at Arlington Arts Centre, USA (2009).# "# The research investigates how the historical representation of indigenous and colonial narratives through fact and fiction inform current representations of knowledge and identity.# # Using her camera as research tool Lucas gathered audio-visual material from archaeological sites, museums, Native American reservations, and estuary landscapes in Virginia (USA) and Essex (UK) to re-interpret the story of Native American Princess Pocahontas.# Contextual research drew on mainstream media, including web, broadcast (Addams Family), Disney animation, cinema (The New World, Terence Malick) alongside historic engravings, written and oral accounts. Depictions of hunting as food source, trophy, ritualized event and leisure pursuit raise comparisons between contemporary and historic use of land, and became a metaphorical theme as the work developed.# "# The film challenges conventional documentary form through extended cinematic static location shots juxtaposed with its unusual soundtrack in which diverse opinions from tribal leaders, historians, re-enactors and ancestors are heard without exposing their authority or identity. The soundtrack also features existing sea shanties, hymns and commissioned folksongs sung by Dani Siciliano (USA) and Mara Carlyle (UK). The representation of Native American cultures and the impact of colonialism carried greater significance for American audiences.# "# Significantly in her publication essay ‘Failures of Fact and Fiction’, Lisa Lefeuvre, Head of Sculpture Studies, Henry Moore Institute, Leeds observes ‘the film makes no claims for truth – rather it presents an analysis of the ways that fact and fiction form belief systems and a means for understanding the place of individuals in the world’.# "# This work led to Uncommon (16mm 2012), an observation of three male hunters in rural Dorset, commissioned by Anna Best for Roads for the Future with artists Judith Dean and Adam Chodzko, included in Lux programme at internationally renowned Oberhausen Film Festival 2013.# Documentary film about Native American Princess Pocahontas, set in Essex UK and Virginia USA

Click here for a full listing of Anna Lucas' publications and outputs.

Key research outputs

  • Land of Silence and Darkness
  • Little White Feather and the Hunter
  • Things that had stories rubbed out
  • River Rea

Research interests/expertise

Artists moving image, in particular the use of the camera and editing process as a tool for research.  Visual perception.  The documentary form in relation to human interaction with landscape, learning institutions and amateur expert knowledge.  Diegetic sound.  Non-verbal communication and learning. 

Areas of teaching

Fine Art Lens Based Media BA, MA


First Class BA Fine Art

Courses taught

Fine Art Lens Based Media

Honours and awards

  • 2009/2011 Paul Hamlyn Award Nominee
  • 2009 Residency at Arlington Arts Centre, Washington State, USA
  • 2009 Arts Council of England Grant
  • 2008 Commissions East commission
  • 2008 Wellcome Trust Fellowship, Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art & Dept Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics, Oxford University
  • 2007 Film London Funding Award
  • 2002 Henry Moore Fellowship, Spike Island, Bristol
  • 1999 Clarks Bursary

Conference attendance

Powers of the False 

The French Institute, London
Co organised by Dr Steven Eastwood and Catherine Wheatley
I presented two films, Seventh Heaven and Demonstration 50.15 followed by a panel discussion:
Artists Moving Image
Demonstration 50.15 (Anna Lucas. 9.00); Desi're - the Goldstein reels (Romeo Grunfelder. 4.00);
Melior Street (extract, Charlotte Ginsborg. 20.00); The Girl with the X-Ray Eyes (Phillip Warnell. 23.00). Followed by a chaired discussion with Maria Walsh,

Review in Moving Image Review and Art Journal (Miraj) journal 
Full issue of Vertigo magazine devoted to the work presented coming soon.

Externally funded research grants information

Road for the Future, Commissioned by artist Anna Best. 

Funded by Arts Council, Dorset Wildlife Trust, West Dorset District Council. Supported by PVA Media Lab.

16mm film for a site specific project on Powerstock Common, Dorset. 

The film is an observation and portrayal of three men at work in the local countryside, a deer stalker and squirrel trapper and an activist who uses road kill skins.  This work focuses on the solitary activities the men pursue, and their relationship with animals and through the land.  The work asks subtle questions about the film’s subjects, manifesting the physical quality of their work, avoiding broadcast formats of storytelling or informing.  Who are they, why are we told so little, unanswered questions evoke a palpable atmosphere and take us to a place outside the verbal.
The work was first shown using a cycle powered cinema in a ponybox on Powerstock Common June 2012.  The event also included film and performance works by artists Adam Chodzko and Judith Dean.  These events were accompanied by a discussion around future use of the rural landscape hosted by Bridport Arts Centre and supported by PVA Media lab and facilitated by Sophie Hope. 

Tate Learning Research project.  Curated by Leanne Turvey, Alice Walton, Tate Learning. Funding sources through Tate.  With artists Jo Addison, Harold Offeh, Natasha Kidd, Emma Hart, Eitan Buchner, Alex Schady, Eve Peasnall, writers Dean Kenning and Richard Whitby. 

Tate Learning Curators research question is:

How can we work with artists and artists’ practice to genuinely inform content and structure of work on the TATE Learning programme?

The artists have been invited to respond to this question and are approaching the project in a variety of ways. 

My research question in this instance is the extent to which a new artwork can be a learning tool in itself.  As a practitioner working with moving image I have been using my 16mm camera as my research tool within the TATE moving image collection store where I have filmed a conservator maintaining projectors.  This new work entitled Gustav, Graham and Lee, is being screened throughout Tate Modern in different contexts.  To date this has been a screening to the Tate Learning team in The Starr Auditorium, and a two week screening in the context of Tacita Deans FILM with links to the Moving Image works on show at Tate Modern in Dec 2011.  The work should also become available on the Tate website.

A series of discussions held bi-monthly has been held and documented to be presented as a publication in 2013.  The work will be presented at a conference in June 2013 as part of the Tate Tanks series at Tate Modern.

Things that had stories rubbed out, Commissioned by Whitstable Biennale. Researching visual perception and decision-making through studio based film-making in collaboration with a range of creative practitioners to make a 16mm film colour stereo with photographic prints installed in a garden shed in Whitstable.  Production Sept 2009 – June 2010 Exhibition 19 June- 4 July Continued web presence, Co-exhibitors included Emma Hart, Karen Mirza, Olivia Plender, Phil Coy, Adam Chodzko and others. More information is available on the Whitstable Biennale website.

Little White Feather and the Hunter, Commissioned by Commissions East, Funded by Essex County Council.  Research investigating knowledge hierarchies and their representation, challenging the documentary form, in particular pace and the voice over using contemporary USA and UK as the backdrop to a re-telling of the story of Native American princess Pocahontas.  Book and DVD with essay by Lisa Le Feuvre, Edited by David Wright and Ben Eastop, Published May 2009.  Artist film-maker.

Land of Silence and Darkness, Demonstration 50.15 and Blind Movies, Commissioned by Wellcome Trust with Ruskin School of Fine Art and Drawing, additionally funded by Arts Council England.  Research into visual perception within the Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics Department at Oxford University.  In particular investigating a blind movie drawing process alongside use of camera as a tool for learning and the visual challenges of censorship in the anatomy lab.  October 2007 – Dec 2009, Artist film-maker curator. Land of Silence and Darkness contributions from Writer and academic Dr Kate Tunstall, Neuroscientist Dr Wyeth Bair, Film writer and academic Dr Silke Panse, Film cameraman (Filmed Werner Herzogs Land of Silence and Darkness) Jorg Schmitt-Reitwein, artist Lindsay Seers.

Begail Foxwell Whip, 16mm film, colour stereo 7mins as part of Holy Hiatus – Ritual and Community in Public Art, Commissioned by artist curator Ruth Jones.

Funded by AHRC through Land2 at University of the West of England.

The film is the outcome of research into the interaction between expert young people and working animals in rural West Wales as part of a continued interest in unsupervised young people, amateur experts and the value of non-academic knowledge.  Using the camera and moment of filming as a tool for investigation, alongside non-sync voice recordings.  The film was first presented in a café exhibition space in Cardigan, West Wales.

A symposium including live presentation of work and conversation with Anthrozoo-ologist Samantha Hurn of University of Wales in Lampeter developed into Holy Hiatus, a hardback book with published conversation from symposium alongside other artists work and essays, Jan 2008 - May 2008 Production, May 2008 Exhibition and Symposium, Jan 2011 Publication.

Internally funded research project information

The River Rea Commission 

Funded by Arts Council England and a variety of smaller local sources including heritage and nature preservation support.  Some funding through De Montfort University.

The project is curated by artist Jony Easterby in collaboration with Midlands Arts Centre (MAC), Birmingham.  The work is centred around an investigation and celebration of the River Rea that runs through central Birmingham and passes the Midlands Arts Centre.  Collaborating artists include Alec Finlay, Ulf Pederson, Mark Anderson and Power Plant and Kathy Hinde. 

Research has taken place in September 2011.  This included a presentation to MAC staff, funders, local historian and interested parties in Birmingham, followed by a three day practical experiment on the banks of the River Rea at MAC to support the funding proposals and to help shape the intentions of the forthcoming production phase.  The outcome will be part of MAC birthday celebration September 2013.

This project offers an opportunity to make a new 16mm film work extending my ongoing interest in observing amateur experts and technicians– people who have a vernacular knowledge frequently related to the natural world, folklore or to pedagogical institutions.  In this case I will film the young team of staff who look after a miscellaneous collection of small exotic animals in the Nature Centre in Birmingham. 

Production beginning July 2012

Small funds from DMU supported

2011 Kaff Mariam and Una de Gato Phoenix Square, Leicester, UK

This was a six week exhibition of two existing films first commissioned by FACT and funded by Film London.

2010 Things that had stories rubbed out, Commissioned by Whitstable Biennale.  See above for details.  This project was majority funded by external sources.

Professional esteem indicators

Journal Refereeing information:

Retfaerd, International Lawyers Magazine published in Sweden. Environmental issue Cover image from Una de Gato and Kaff Mariam with text by Retfaerd editor Ole Hammerslev

Case studies


2010 The Times Newspaper 27 June 2010 Whiststable Biennale Waldemar Januczek

2009 Kaff Mariam/Una de Gato, Niels Herbert The World’s Disorder, Kultur, Arbetarbladet, Sweden 

LUX, Distribution of my work by LUX who are the main UK distributor of artist film and video works

Commissioned essay by Melissa Gronlund, writer and editor of Afterall magazine

Presentation of my film Seventh Heaven as front page of the LUX website

Presentation of my film Demonstration 50.15 at Whitechapel Art Gallery, as part of New Work UK, and ongoing presentation highlighted within curators section of LUX website 

Presentation of Little White Feather and the Hunter by Larry Syder, director of The School of Sound, in UK and Switzerland regarding the unusual use of voice-over and spatial use of sound.

Tate Learning team using my working process as a way of explaining and investigating learning within the gallery

Representations of the work have appeared in Vertigo magazine (Artists Centrespread for Kaff Mariam/Una De Gato) alongside screenings to accompany the magazine launch. 
Anna Lucas

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Anna Lucas - Demonstration 50.15 (Film still)Land of Sileanna-lucas-hlwfh


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