Artist Statement

Hurrel makes art through an engagement with specific contexts; it is a relational practice that takes into account the wider ecology of people and place.

He works across a range of media such as video, sound, sculpture, light, text, digital, photography and writing. 

He unearths stories, weaves together material, and may combine fact and fiction to create new narratives. These new narratives become alternative stories for a place, and alternative ‘markers’ within it – whether that is a film, a sculpture, a publication, or another art form. He has undertaken significant collaborations with other professionals including social scientists, marine ecologists, architects, engineers, and computer-programmers. Hurrel has exhibited and produced site-specific work in the UK and abroad and has several permanent public artworks in the UK, and Tasmania, Australia.

In recent years Hurrel has created work in relation to various marine environments. This includes responses to the act of making journeys, the people he meets ,and the experience of being located within those environments. This has included environments such as a marine-mammal research station, a Scottish island fishing community, coastal towns, a river in Mexico and a fishing community in Sri Lanka.

An ongoing project is his narrative-led piece, titled Fluid States: Rehearsal for a Crisis, based on a particular journey the artist made along the Usumacinta River in Mexico; a group expedition of artists, social scientists and community activists that involved paddling down the river and camping along it for three weeks. In this work, fact and fiction become interwoven, as well as the act of making a journey and telling a story.

Project Sites


Stephen Hurrel has shown his work in galleries, contemporary art festivals and public spaces in Europe, America, Australia and New Zealand.

He has undertaken several artist residencies including a one-year Australian Residency and others in Sri Lanka, Mexico, The Azores and Scotland. Hurrel studied Fine Art at Glasgow School of Art and has been a visiting lecturer at art institutes in the UK, Europe and Australia, and was Course Leader of an MA in Context & Media at Valand School of Art, Gothenburg, Sweden.

Selected exhibitions include; Word of Mouth at Venice Biennale (2019), ISOP, Graz, Austria (2018), Summerhall, Edinburgh (2017), Colombo Biennale, Sri Lanka (2016), Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow (2015), Generation – 25 years of Contemporary Art in Scotland (2014), Walk & Talk, Azores, Portugal (2013), Museum of Science & Industry, Manchester, England (2013), Soundwave ((5)) Festival, San Francisco, USA (2012), Latrobe Gallery, Victoria, Australia (2011), Filmhouse, Edinburgh (2011), Glasgow International Festival of Visual Art; CCA off-site project (2005) and Tramway, Glasgow (2008)

He studied at Glasgow School of Art Sculpture Department and, after many years based in Scotland, now lives in Whitley Bay, north east England. He has been a visiting lecturer at several art institutes in the UK, Europe and Australia and was a part-time lecturer at Glasgow School of Art and at Valand School of Art, Gothenburg, Sweden, where he was also Course Leader of an MA in Context & Media (2004-2007).

In summer 2012, he was artist-in-residence at a marine-mammal research station in Cromarty, Scotland where he produced several short films in response to that coastal environment and the work being undertaken by marine biologists. The main film, Dead Reckoning has been shown at several video festivals.

In 2014 he was artist-in-residence at Timespan, as part of GENERATION – 25 Years of Contemporary Art in Scotland. He had three solo shows including the new three-screen video installation The Sea, The Sails and the White, White Blades. This piece reflects on the past, present and future of the area with a particular focus on relationships between people, the sea and various energy industries that exist in the far north-east of Scotland.

Whilst on a Cape Farewell expedition in 2011, which involved sailing to the Western Isles of Scotland to explore ideas around sustainability and existing island knowledge, he met social ecologist Dr Ruth Brennan (Scottish Association for Marine Sciences, Oban) and they began to collaborate on interdisciplinary projects. Hurrel and Brennan produced several works including a publication (Belonging to the Sea), an online cultural map of the sea (Sea Stories: Barra), and the film Clyde Reflections commissioned by Imagining Natural Scotland in 2014.

Stephen explores possibilities that exist between specialist areas and is interested in innovative outcomes of collaborations with other people. Since 2000 he has explored digital media in relation to permanent public art, with the help of computer expert Robert Farrell.

This has resulted in several innovative public artworks that includes the first permanent outdoor video projection artwork in the UK (One Hundred Books, Leeds), a permanent light-based installation that responds directly to wind speed and wind direction (The Sound of the Wind Looks Like This, Blackpool), a permanent light-based installation that responds to sound levels in a city centre (The Rings, Glasgow) and a unique audio-video gallery installation that taps into live seismic data around the world, via the internet, and translates it directly into sound and associated waveforms (Beneath and Beyond: Seismic Sounds).

He has been the recipient of several major awards including an SAC Creative Scotland Award (2006), an Art Foundation Fellowship Award, London (2008), Creative Scotland First In A Lifetime Award (2012) and a Creative Scotland Open Funding Award (2016)

CV [Selected]


  • 1989

  • Completed Postgraduate Diploma in Fine Art (Highly Commended) following BA Hons Fine Art, Sculpture Dept., The Glasgow School of Art, Scotland

Selected Exhibitions & Events

  • 2019

  • WORD OF MOUTH at Venice Biennale 2019 : A Project in Four Fragments Curated & Choreographed by Dr. Peter Hill. Showcasing 25 Artists from Australia, Scotland and Singapore (7th May to 14th May 2019)

    Public Art Interventions, Middlesbrough Light and sound installation TRANSMIT TRANSFORM TRANSLATE, commissioned by Middlesbrough Council and Navigator North (2020-21)


  • 2015-18

  • Beneath and Beyond: Seismic Sounds at Paisley Museum & Art Gallery (1 Feb-15 April 2018)

    Working Across Art Forms and Across Borders Performances & group exhibition, ISOP, Graz, Austria (7 Dec 2017)

    Contemporary Connections (EISF) Group exhibition, Summerhall, Edinburgh (1 April-12 May 2017)

    Colombo Biennale, Sri Lanka invited, (November 2016)

    Glasgow Project Room 103 Trongate, solo show of new work (25 June-2 July 2016)

    Moving Through Suramedura Residency Exhibition and Public Event, Sri Lanka (12 Dec 2015)

    Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow (GoMA) Installation of Clyde Reflections film (May-July 2015)

    Radiophrenia two sound works broadcast on Vernon & Burns sound-art radio station (April)

  • 2014

  • Centre of Contemporary Art premiere screening of Clyde Reflections by Hurrel and Brennan, Glasgow (11th Sept)

    North Sea Hitch three solo shows at Timespan, Helmsdale as part of GENERATION: 25 years of Contemporary Art in Scotland (June-Sept)

    Alchemy Film & Media Festival The Borders, Scotland

  • 2013

    • Sea Change Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh (Cape Farewell group exhibition, Nov -Jan 14)

    • Walk & Talk, Azores outdoor text piece Sea-Stars-Tears and film screening (July)

    • Museum of Science & Industry (MOSI), Manchester, Beneath and Beyond – Solo (April to June)

    • Modern Edinburgh Film School Talbot Rice Gallery screenings by Alex Hetherington (June)

  • 2012

    • Sublime Residency Exhibition (Sept), Lighthouse Field Station, Cromarty followed by screenings of Dead Reckoning at Sonica Festival CCA Glasgow, Sublime Event at Inverness Cathedral and OilScapes Peacock Visual Arts, Aberdeen, Exhibition Film Programme (10th Oct)

    • Soundwave ((5)) Festival San Francisco, USA (August)

  • 2010-2011

    • Filmhouse, Edinburgh, Beneath & Beyond in Environmental Dialogues Programme 

    • One-Minute-Manifesto  spoken word, AHM Symposium, Royal National Galleries, Edinburgh

    • Pixxelpoint 11th International New Media Festival, Slovenia & Italy

    • Understory Devenport Regional Gallery and Plimsoll Gallery, Tasmania, Australia

    • John Cage Musicircus Event, Tramway, Glasgow

    • FestArte Video Art Festival Gallery Macro Testaccio, Museum of Contemporary Art, Rome

  • 2008-2009

    • Art Geo – Drive to Reconnect the Cultural and the Natural Schlosspark, Cologne, Germany

    • Turbulent Terrain Latrobe Gallery, Victoria, Australia

    • Beneath and Beyond Tramway, Glasgow International Festival of Contemporary Visual Art

Awards & Residencies

  • 1997-2022

  • Building Better Healthcare Award 2022: Best Collaborative Arts Project National award for permanent artworks installed in new NHS Greenock Health & Care Centre, Scotland (Hurrel was Lead Artist/Planner/Curator 2016-2021)

    Suramedura Artists Residency, Sri Lanka (Nov-Dec 2015)

    Timespan artist residency, Helmsdale, Scotland (June-August 2014)

    The Clipperton Project interdisciplinary group expedition along Usumacinta River, Mexico (May 2014)

    Sublime artist residency at Lighthouse Field Station, Cromarty, Scotland (IOTA, Inverness, Summer 2012)

    Cape Farewell interdisciplinary group expedition on a sailing boat in Western Isles of Scotland and one-month residency on the island of Barra

    Creative Scotland First In A Lifetime Award working in collaboration with social ecologist Ruth Brennan and local people to produce Sea Stories: Barra, an online cultural map of the sea, island of Barra, Outer Hebrides (2012-13)

    Hope Scott Trust award to develop work for Soundwave ((5)), San Francisco (2012)

    The Arts Foundation Fellowship Award, London (2008)

    SAC Creative Scotland Award (2006)

    SAC Australian Residency, 12 months (1997/98)

Commissions (Temporary Public Art & Films)

  • 1998-2020

  • Arthouses live online performative-artwork. Commission for Arthouses Inverted (22nd May 2020)

    Colombo Art Biennale (off-site project), Sri Lanka (2-20 Dec 2016)

    Walk & Talk, Azores public art festival, temporary wall-based text piece, San Miguel, Azores, Portugal (2013)

    Sublime site-specific videos, Lighthouse Field Station, Cromarty (Residency exhibition Sept 2012)

    Imagining Natural Scotland commission for Creative Scotland to produce collaborative art-science film (2013-2014)

    Cape Farewell Film Commission based on island of Barra (2012-2013)

    Centre of Contemporary Arts (CCA) / Glasgow International, site piece for Gi (2005)

    London Printworks Trust, site-specific works for Vauxhall Cross, London (2000)

    Tramway@ series of site commissions, Glasgow (1999)

    Festival of Contemporary Art, Canberra, Australia (1999)

    Hobart Fringe Festival Commissioned by HFF & Plimsoll Gallery, Tasmania (1998)

Permanent Public Art Commissions


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