Dr Mary O'Neill

Job: Associate Head (Education), School of Art Design and Architecture,

Faculty: Arts, Design and Humanities

School/department: School of Arts, Design and Architecture

Research group(s): Practice Based Research

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

T: 0116 250 6054

E: mary.oneill@dmu.ac.uk

Social Media: https://vimeo.com/manage/videos/890603281


Personal profile

Mary O'Neill's research is interdisciplinary and focuses on contemporary artworks as a means of discussing significant cultural issues. From an original interest in ephemeral art and notions of mortality and immortality, her research has developed to explore intangible culture, in particular the lost skills that are embodied in museum objects. O'Neill has published both academic texts and short fiction on a diverse range of subject including ephemeral contemporary art, boredom, loss, isolation, art education, finding meaning and contemporary art and ethics. Discussing her current project, 'Re-creative Practice: Learning from the Past', she states "Museums are more than a collection of beautiful objects; they are repositories of knowledge. This knowledge informs us about the past but it also has the potential to inform the future. Re-creative practice is common in many disciplines, from archaeology to forensic science but its potential to inform artists and designers has been under explored. While there are numerous heritage centres that provide a ‘taste’ of what traditional crafts were like and re-enactment groups, re-creative practice is a deeper engagement with historical objects that draws on the past to extract knowledge for the present and the future."Her most recent project – The Museum of Leathercraft – Ordinary Objects: Extraordinary Stories  is a short documentary produced in collaboration with film maker Nik Trzcinowicz. This film will be shown inside a sedan chair that is based on one in the museum’s collection.

Research group affiliations

Institute of Art and Design, Practice, Based Research

Publications and outputs

Exhibitions Art works

  • This is all I have, Everything Is Made of Light, Bermondsey Project Space, London
  • Notes on a Confinement, The Gallery DMU 2021
  • Things We Cannot Say with Johanna Hållsten "Radical Ventriloquism Kelder Projects, London 2020
  • Foreignhood with Johanna Hållsten, Martin Hall Gallery, Loughborough University 2019 Personal Structures, European Cultural Centre, Venice Biennale 2019
  • Here and there: two works, ten countries. in The Body: Out of Time and Without a Place, Contemporary Art Centre, Vilnius. 2015*
  • I, I am, I am speaking here. Performance Ephemera, Practice Gallery, University of Worcester, 2015*
  • Unspoken words. In Dialogue 2014, Nottingham Contemporary Art, 2014* Translating Rage, Gnarl Fest, Lincoln, 2014*
  • Where's the Art? Modern Art Oxford (UK) 2014*
  • Unspoken, Gray Zone for Performance Art, Kingston NY. U.S.A. 2014*
  • Angry Words, Miami Performance International Festival14, Miami, U.S.A. 2014* Fool, Performing for Cows, Porhloscant, France 2013
  • I, I am, I speaking, I am speaking here, Performa 1, Art Basel Miami 2013*
  • She works: She Writes, Miami International Performance Festival, Miami Beach Botanical Gardens, Miami, U.S.A. 2013*
  • Lost at Sea in Living Loss: The Experience of Illness in Art. Glucksman Gallery, Cork, Ireland. 2013
  • O/R Low Lives 4 Networked Performance Festival, streamed across several venues (U.S.A., Japan, Colombia, France and Australia) 2012.*
  • Visual Discussion, In Dialogue, Nottingham Contemporary 2012*
  • Oral/Response, BLOP 2012, Arnolfini (Bristol), 2012.*
  • Reading Stories for the Dead, Greestone Gallery, Lincoln, U.K. 2011.
  • Oral/Response, Action Art Now OUI. York. U.K. 2011.*
  • Gift, Commissioned by Poetry Society to celebrate the arrival of the Trafalgar Square Christmas tree from Norway, 2011
  • Live Art: A Visual Discussion, Greestone Gallery, Lincoln, U.K. 2010.
  • Oral/Response, The Future Can Wait, Truman Brewery, London, 2009.* Works followed by * were performed by Bartram O’Neill


  • Unnamed Heroine with Johanna Halsten, "Salon for A Speculative Future" Monika Oechsler & Sharon Kivland (eds) 2020
  • Here and there: two works, ten countries. in G. Žemaitytė, A. Trakšelyė, and L. Michelkevičė (eds.) The Body: Out of Time and Without a Place, Vilnius Arts Academy, 2016
  • Unsettling Action and Text in ‘Collaborative Art in the Twenty First Century’, Routledge (Advances in Art and Visual Studies series) 2016. Co-authored with Angela Bartram. Foundling in ‘Joy interrupted: an anthology of motherhood and loss’. Fat Daddy’s Farm Press. 2013
  • Collaborative Practice in Total Art Journal https://hes32-ctp.trendmicro.com:443/wis/clicktime/v1/query?url=http%3a%2f%2ftotalartjournal.com%2farchives%2f3204%2fbartramoneill%2f&umid=13b061ce-4e51-4adf-99af-fa0d8e759c20&auth=abf3dc013bb623204479f0e1f803993cdb4617ca-f8a5a2249ccd7c381621f81a0f0bd48dd9e8a3c7 2012. with Angela Bartram. Oral / Response in: Y. Gluzman (ed.) Emergency Index, New York, Ugly Duckling Press. 2012 with Angela Bartram
  • Speaking to the Dead: Images of the dead in contemporary art in Health, Volume 15 Issue 3, May 2011. http://hea.sagepub.com/content/15/3/299.short
  • Ephemeral Art: Telling Stories to the Dead in The Story of Things: reading narrative in the visual, Image and Narrative, Special Issue. Vol. 12, No 3, 2011.
  • April is the Cruellest Month in New Writing: International Journal for the Practice and Theory of Creative Writing, Volume 8, Issue 2, 2011.
  • Images of the Dead: Ethics and Contemporary Art Practice in Ben Garner, Sonia Pavlenko, Salma Shaheen and Alison Wolanski (Eds.) Cultural and Ethical Turns: Interdisciplinary Reflections on Culture, Politics and Ethics, The Inter-Disciplinary Press, 2010.
  • The Art of Giving Lightly, Catalogue essay in Pebbles and Avalanches, Dean Clough Gallery & University of Lincoln. 2010 pp. 9‐11.
  • Telling Stories: Criticism and Theory in Tormey J. and G. Whiteley (eds.) Telling Stories, Cambridge Scholars Press 2009 pp. 2‐5.
  • Verloren, in De Gids: Serenity and Anxiety, June/July 2009 No. 5 (translated into Dutch). Ephemeral Art: The Art of Being Lost, in Davidson Joyce, Liz Bondi, Mick Smith and Laura Cameron (Eds.) Emotion, Place, and Culture. Ashgate 2009. pp. 149 ‐162.
  • Here, ‘I’ am, The Journal of Writing in Creative Practice, Vol. 1 No. 3, pp. 293-300. 2009 A Lick, Catalogue essay in McGoldrick R (Ed) The Animal Gaze, London Metropolitan University, 2008.
  • Art and Money: Experience, Destruction, Exposure in Cox, F. and Hans‐Walter Schmidt‐ Hannisa (Eds.) Money and Culture, Frankfurt: Peter Lang. pp. 333‐342. 2008 Ephemeral Art: Memory and Loss, in Judith Schachter and Stephen Brockmann (Eds.) Im/Permanence: Cultures in and out of Time, Carnegie Mellon Centre for the Arts in Society in association with Pennsylvania State University Press. 2008.
  • The Sacrifice Made by Audiences: The Complicit Discomfort of Viewing Performance Art in Cultural and Ethical Turns: Interdisciplinary Reflections on Culture, Politics and Ethics, interdisciplinary.net

Research interests/expertise

Ephemeral Practice, Collaborative Practice, Art and Society, Art Activism, Science Art, Re-creative Practice

Areas of teaching

Fine Art Studio Practice, Critical Theory, Art History, Professional Practice


AHRC funded PhD. Ephemeral Art: Mourning and Loss (2007) Loughborough University School of Art and Design.

Senior Fellow Higher Education Academy

Courses taught

Fine Art 3301, Fine art 1102, Fine art 2202, Fine Art 3302

Honours and awards

  • 2015 Writer in Residence, Centre for Contemporary Art (CCA), Glasgow.
  • 2014 Artist in Residence, Gray Zone, Kingston, New York.
  • 2012 Artist in Residence, Grace Exhibition Center, Brooklyn, New York
  • 2008 Higher Education Academy, Art, Media and Design Teaching Fellowship 2007 Fund for Educational Development (FED) Ethics and Contemporary Art 2007 Undergraduate Research Opportunity (UROS) Ethics and Contemporary Art 2003 AHRC Doctoral Award
  • 1997 New Works Residency, Banff Centre for Media and Visual Arts.
  • 1996 Department of Foreign Affairs, Cultural Relations Committee Travel Award - Arts Flight, Arts C
  • 1994 Arts Council Equipment Grant
  • 1993 Arts Council Travel Award
  • 1991 Printmaking Award, Brewery Arts Centre, Kendal
  • 1990 Frans Masereel Centrum, Belgium, Residency.
  • 1989 House of Creativity, Chelyuskinskii, Moscow, Residency.
  • 1988 N.A.D.F.A.S. Award for Young Printmakers

Professional licences and certificates

Senior Fellow Higher Education Academy


Re-creative Practice - Learning from the past

Conference attendance

  • ‘Positive Externalities in Fine Art Education’, Creative Encounters with Design Heritage,  European League of Institutes of the Arts (ELIA) Conference, Evora, Portugal. 2023
  • ‘Ephemeral art, Memory and Forgetting’ 6th Memory Forgetting and Creating International Interdisciplinary Conference. InMind, Prague. 2023
  • ‘Artifacts Live: Creative Encounters with Design Heritage’ (ELIA) Conference, Evora, Portugal. 2023
  • 'Artefacts Live' Shaking the Archive Conference, Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh on 23-24 June 2023
  • ‘The Story of Stuff: contemporary art, material, and narrative’, Image Narrative Context: visual narratives in the cultures and societies of the old world. FRIAS, Albert Ludwigs Universität Freiburg. 2015.
  • Here and there: two works, ten countries (displaced). In: TaPRA Annual Conference 2015, 8th-10th September 2015, University of Worcester.*
  • ‘Et in Arcadia ego’. In: Art in Translation, Reykjavík. 2014.
  • ‘Entitlement, empathy and the ethics of representation: contemporary art and the appropriation of trauma’ Interrogating Trauma in the Humanities, University of Lincoln, 2012.
  • ‘Living with the Dead: cinematic love and death’. Representations of Love in Film and Television, Milwaukee (USA), 2010.
  • ‘A year of living dangerously: Collaborating with undergraduate students’, Creative Pedagogies, Changing Perspectives, Crossing Boundaries, Temasek Polytechnic, Singapore, 2010.
  • ‘Performing Sorrow: Ephemerality and Mourning’ Performance of Memory in the Arts, Radboud University, Nijmegen, 2010.
  • ‘Images of the Dead: Ethics and Contemporary Art Practice’ Culture, Politics and Ethics, Salzburg, 2010.
  • ‘The art of fear: the fear of art’ 5th International Interdisciplinary Conference Politics of Fear: Fear of Politics. University of Brighton. 2010*
  • ‘Ephemeral Art: Telling Stories to the Dead’, The Story of Things: reading narrative in the visual, Manchester Metropolitan University Special Collections, 2010.
  • ‘Performance Art, Audience and Ethics’ PSi 16 Performing Publics, Toronto, 2010*
  • ‘The Sacrifice Made by Audiences: The Complicit Discomfort of Viewing Performance Art’ Culture, Politics and Ethics, Salzburg, 2010.*
  • ‘Death, Art and Mortality Awareness: Images of the dead in contemporary art’, Death, Dying and Disposal Conference, Institute of Advanced Study, Durham University, 2009. ‘Collaboration: Motivation, Action, Reflection and Generosity’. Art and Design Education, Higher Education, Academy Art Media and Design Annual Conference, University of Southampton, 2009.
  • ‘The Lincoln Studio’ Higher Education Academy Annual Conference, University of Manchester, 2009.
  • ‘ADM Fellowship Scheme: Lincoln Studio’, Out of the Studio: Celebrating art, design and media learning and teaching. Art Institute at Bournemouth, 2009.
  • Teaching and Learning Research Programme, Improving Teaching: Enhancing Learning, QEII Conference Centre, London, 2009.
  • Speaking to the Dead, American Comparative Literature Conference, Long Beach, CA, U.S.A. 2008.
  • Speaking to the Dead, Representations of Illness AHRC Workshop, Loughborough University, U.K. 2008.
  • The Art of Loss, Emotional Geographies Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada. 2006.
  • Here ‘I’ am, Where do we go from here? Writing PAD, Goldsmith’s College, London, 2006. ‘Speaking to the Dead’ Constructions of Death, Mourning, and Memory Conference, Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey, U.S.A. 2006.
  • Ephemeral Art: Memory and Loss, Im/Permanence: Cultures in and out of Time. Center for the Arts in Society, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh 2005.
  • Ephemeral Art: Sacrifice and Grief, Art and Commemoration Australian National University Canberra, Australia. 2005.
  • Art and Money: Experience, Destruction, Exposure, Culture and Money XIII Annual Conference on Cross Currents in Literature, Film and the Visual Arts University College Cork, Ireland, 2005.
  • On the benefit of being bored, Association of Art Historians Conference, Bristol University, 2005

Consultancy work

Seeing Fire: Perspectives through Art and Science - a collaboration between The Leverhulme Centre for Wildfires, Environment and Society and Arts Cabinet. Project evaluator. Expertise - collaborative practice, art and science collaborations.

Current research students

Rebecca Walker, Henry Moore: The Shape of Trauma

Talvir Kaur

Internally funded research project information


Artefacts Live, HEIF, A collaboration between DMU and The Museum of Leathercraft, Northampton, 2022 - 2023, Academic Lead.