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Peer reviewed



As a practice-based researcher, my enquiries probe if and how, our infant encounters with objects and space within the domestic and other environments, form and frame our perpetual journeys towards an ‘ideal’ location? How might this primal landscape that becomes the inherent blueprint by which we measure all our future dwellings and navigations of space and place manifest through art? If this latent psycho-geographical map fuels our aspirations, creativity and our social and political perspectives, then can it be identified through the artistic representation of a unique imagined place of perfection, a visualisation of an alien paradise?

The concept of Utopia allows us the creative device to explore incongruous or apocryphal places and societies. As a curated research outcome (2015), the group exhibition :Xenotopia presented 14 internationally prominent artists’ approaches to ‘out-of-place places’, particularly strange, fictitious architecture and ‘xenospaces’, imagined, meta-geographic locations that exist only theoretically, ethereally or subconsciously.

‘Xenotopia’ is the term coined by British writer Robert McFarlane to describe an uncanny landscape, perhaps a place that serves a practical function, either in its imagined manifestation or as a useful, fantastical device to steer us through our daily lives or meanderings. It inherently encompasses fact and fiction and a sense of the ineffable and sublime – something familiar and knowable, yet strange.

Through this visual paper I will present ideas formulated from the work in and beyond the exhibition. These are anachronistic works that marry unfamiliar and idealised elements in a kind of flux where the alien meets the quotidian and the recognizable becomes unknown expressed through psycho-geographic ambiguity or putative architectural paradise.

Example Artists in :Xenotopia Exhibition and future publication: Emily Allchurch, Amba Sayal-Bennett, Berenika Boberska, Pablo Bronstein, Rachel Clewlow, Noémie Goudal, Sarah Anne Johnson, Katherine Jones, Catriona Leahy, Theo Miller,Paul Noble, Grayson Perry, David Price and Jenny Wiener



Utopia, Exhibition, Psycho-geography


Clarke, L. (2016) :Xenotopia. 500 years of Utopias.17th International Conference of the Utopian Studies Society, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, 5-9 July


Research Institute

Institute of Art and Design