Dr Clair Chinnery

BA (Hons), MA, PhD, PGCertHE (Level III SEDA)

Senior Lecturer in Fine Art

School of Arts

Clair Chinnery


Subject Co-ordinator for MFA Fine Art.

Teaching and supervision

Modules taught

Undergraduate teaching (BA Hons Fine Art)

  • U65520 Fine Art Practice 3A: Developing Studio/New Media Practice (Level 5: double)
  • U65570 Fine Art Practice 4: Research and Development (Level 6: double)
  • U65595/7 Fine Art Practice 4: Major Project (Level 6: quadruple/double).

Postgraduate teaching (MFA Fine Art)

  • P65501Fine Art Practice 1: Outcomes of Research in Practice
  • P65502: Fine Art Practice II: Major Project.


Clair's research interests have stemmed from investigations into the roles that institutions occupy in individual and collective consciousness. Themes such as ‘hybridity’ ‘gendered experience’, ‘memory’, and ‘belief systems’ have been explored through the careful construction and juxtaposition of objects and images within defined spaces.

Current research interests focus on the interrelationship of human and animal subjects making use of devices of mimicry/imitation to explore and critique strategies of historic European colonialism (from the Early Modern period onwards). A metaphorical approach is applied, through which knowledge gained through the study of animal adaptations and behaviors is juxtaposed with knowledge of historical events from human colonial history. This practice reveals connections and equivalences in human and non-human behavior, crossing species divisions. However, through this activity, resources and methodologies of scholarship from across disciplinary divides are also mimicked therefore providing a conceptually unusual cross-disciplinary approach.

A key example is to be found in the extended project Cuculus Prospectus (2011 onwards), which includes sculptures, drawings, prints, photographs and video works. Cuculus Prospectus has been exhibited in full and as selected works in galleries and other sites across the UK and internationally. In this body of work expanded explorations of hybridity—using the evolutionary adaptations of the Eurasian Cuckoo Cuculus Canorus—have been developed using anthropomorphic devices to draw metaphorical analogies with the environmental legacies of European colonialism—as described by Alfred Crosby in Ecological Imperialism (1986). The project takes as its premise an imagined scenario in which Cuculus canorus plans an extension of its territory into the New World of North America. In 2013 and 2014 this project was developed ‘in the field’ through The Human Nest-box and Remote Performances involving site based installations, interventions and performances in the Scottish Highlands during residencies at Outlandia artists tree-house and field station (run by London Fieldworks). In 2015 the ‘field’ was re-constituted within a group exhibition Remote Centres, curated by London Fieldworks and hosted by Art/Space/Nature at Edinburgh’s Tent Gallery during the Edinburgh Art Festival.

Research group membership

  • Co-Founder and member of FAR (Fine Art Research) Group.

Research impact

Clair’s exhibiting experience includes one person shows: Unnatural Causes (O3 Gallery, Oxford), Unruly Objects (Cornerstone Arts, Oxon), Cuculus Prospectus, (Beldam Gallery, Brunel University, London and Waterfront Gallery, UCS, Ipswich); Locations, (OVADA, Oxford); "...from the institution" (City Museum and Art Gallery, Stoke on Trent) and Taking Stock (Keele University Gallery, Staffordshire). Selected group exhibitions have included, Reproducing Death, (at the 115th American Anthropological Association meeting) Minneapolis Convention Center, MN, USA, Remote Centres, Tent Gallery, Edinburgh, The Fools Journey and Naming the Animals (both at Curious Matter [NJ] & Proteus Gowanus [Brooklyn NY] USA); Animals, People: A Shared Environment, (POP Gallery and QCA Gallery, Brisbane, AUS), mere jelly, (Transmission Gallery, Glasgow), New Hybrids, (part of the Cultural Olympiad, Oxford) and New Art New Century (Potteries Museum and Art Gallery, Stoke on Trent). Publications include ‘There’s a Monster in the Nest-box’ (chapter) in ‘Remote Performances in Nature and Architecture’, Gilchrist B., Joelson J., Warr T. ed., Ashgate, 2015. Artist’s books include How to Speak...: The Breeding Birds of the United Kingdom and Briefe and True: Lost Landscapes.


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Further details

Areas of expertise

Clair’s practice includes sculpture, photography, drawing, video, sound, performance and artist’s books. Her research stems from an interest in the roles that institutions occupy in individual and collective consciousness.  Recent projects focus on the historic interrelationships of human and animal subjects using ‘mimicry’/’imitation’ and ‘hybridity’ to explore and critique strategies of European colonialism. This research utilises resources and methodologies of scholarship from across disciplinary divides. The results of this conceptually unusual approach can be seen in Clair’s extended project Cuculus Prospectus (2011-present), and her giant ‘human nest’ sculptures,  the forth of which was recently commissioned for Wytham Wood’s 75th anniversary.

Other experience

Clair Chinnery holds a BA Hons (1st ) in Fine Art from Nottingham Polytechnic, an MA in Fine Art (Sculpture) from Chelsea College of Art and Design and a PhD by Published Work from Oxford Brookes University. Her PhD thesis was entitled Hybrids, Mimics, Colonies and Collections. Before joining Brookes in 2000, Clair was a Lecturer in the Department of Visual Arts at Keele University, where she completed her PGCertHE (SEDA level III) in 1996. In 2001/2 was a Visiting Professor in the Department of Art and Art History at Duke University, North Carolina, USA.