Talks & Topics
Talks & debates

Colm Tóibín & Rachel Whiteread

Part of Man Booker 50

Renowned author Colm Tóibín and Turner Prize-winning artist Rachel Whiteread discuss their artistic collaboration on TESTAMENT: a limited-edition art book in which the text of an original play by Tóibín is illustrated with ten photographs of various distinctive objects that Whiteread has collected over the years.

Their collaboration is based on Tóibín’s 2011 one-woman play about the life of the Madonna, which he later turned into the Booker-shortlisted novel The Testament of Mary. Tóibín was drawn to Whiteread as the two artists explore many similar themes: silence, memory, domestic space, isolation – the glow around ordinary things.

Although they might appear to be very different artists – Tóibín's novels often tell intimate and interior stories of women and family, while Whiteread's sculptures and installations examine the negative space left by architecture and objects – they have come together for this extraordinary one-off collaboration. TESTAMENT merges Tóibín’s very private portrait of the Madonna with selections from Whiteread’s photographic collection of personal objects.

In this session, Tóibín and Whiteread discuss their artistic collaboration and the challenges and rewards of working together. Their conversation explores subjects that fascinate them: the intimate and the universal, the public and private, the concrete and the ephemeral, as they unpack the explosive mix of ideas that have drawn them together.

Chaired by author and biographer Wendy Jones.

Colm Tóibín is the author of nine novels, of which three have been shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. His novel The Testament of Mary was published in 2012.

Rachel Whiteread was the first woman to win the Turner Prize in 1993. Her work has been included in several solo and group exhibitions, including her recent exhibition at Tate Britain in London. She currently lives and works in London.

Dates & times

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Queen Elizabeth Hall


Booking fee: £3.00 (Members £0.00)

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25% off (limited availability)
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Age recommendation
For ages 16+.

Book multiple Man Booker 50 events in the same transaction and receive a discount: 20% off for 2 events or 30% off for 3 or more events.

Access information
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