Artists & Thinkers
Talks & debates

Es Devlin

Part of Space Shifters

The artist and designer Es Devlin OBE practices across the worlds of visual art, opera, dance, concerts and theatre.

In this keynote talk, she presents her own artistic approach in relation to the exhibition Space Shifters at Hayward Gallery, seeking out influences and commonality with the historic and contemporary artworks on display. Es Devlin is joined in conversation by writer, editor and curator Francesca Gavin.

Devlin has pioneered an artistically and technically ambitious approach to her practice that bridges the gap between audience and performance, often using surface, light and reflection to create dramatic and ambiguous spatial environments.

Known for large-scale performative sculptures that fuse technology and poetry, Devlin created the luminous fluorescent red Please Feed The Lions sculpture that roared AI-generated collective poetry to crowds in Trafalgar Square in September 2018. The Singing Tree (2017), a collective choral carol installation at the V&A, merged machine learning with sound and light, and Mirror Maze (2016) at Copeland Park in Peckham explored reflective labyrinthine geometries.

Devlin collaborated with celebrated theoretical physicist Carlo Rovelli on an interpretation of The Order of Time, read by Benedict Cumberbatch at BOLD Tendencies rooftop art space in Peckham in September 2018, and has conceived touring stage sculptures for Beyoncé, U2, Adele and Kanye West, as well as the Royal Opera House and the National Theatre.

Her practice was the subject of the Netflix documentary series Abstract: the Art of Design, and she has recently been named winner of the much-coveted commission to design the UK Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai.

Francesca Gavin is a curator and writer based in London. She is the art editor of Twin, editor at large at Kaleidoscope and contributing editor at Good Trouble, Art Papers, Beauty Papers and Semaine. She was the co-curator of the Historical Exhibition of Manifesta 11 and has curated exhibitions internationally, including at the Palais de Tokyo, Site Sheffield and Mu.

Gavin is the author of six books including 2017’s Watch This Space. She has a monthly radio show Rough Version on NTS Radio on the relationship between artists and music.

Dates & times

This event has passed.


Purcell Room


Booking fee: £3.00 (Members £0.00)


25% off (limited availability)
Find out more about our Concessions policy