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John Hughes

Research project: An investigation into the capture and public display of the Acton Town otter


My investigation starts with a photograph from the London Transport Museum collection. The photograph is of an exhibition of stuffed animals that took place in Charing Cross Underground Station in 1929, including a female Otter captured at Acton Town on the 4th April 1911. This exhibition also took place at Mansion House Underground Station, starting from 1914, and is referenced in Charles Pears' iconic 1915 Underground Electric publication An Alphabet of T.O.T.

My quest for the Acton Town otter has led me to engage audiences with my research into surreal forms of animality, camouflage, deception and story telling. My PhD takes the form of performance and radio broadcast. I am experimenting with combinations of sound and text by focusing on the following questions: What happens when text is punctured by sound? How does the use of sound change the narrative?

  • Research degree: Practice-based PhD
  • Title of project: An investigation into the capture and public display of the Acton Town otter
  • Research supervisor: Dr Dean Kenning
  • Other research supervisor: Ms Amanda Ure


My sound work has been heard in Radiophrenia, Centre for Contemporary Art, Glasgow (2019), The London Open, Whitechapel Gallery (2012) and New Contemporaries, Coach Shed, Liverpool and Club Row, London (2006). My sound piece Have A Nice Day (2007) was installed at the Hounds Hill Shopping Centre, commissioned by the Blackpool Museum of Contemporary Art.

In 2019 I was awarded funding to take part in the TECHNE Conflux Geo-Humanities Summer School: Listening (to) Field, Voice and Body in Bude, Cornwall. In 2013 I was Artist in Residence at studio1.1, London and also took part in Braziers International Artist Workshop residency programme, Oxfordshire in 2007.

As part of the research group We Are Publication I have been involved in events, performances and exhibitions at Five Years, London (2018), Focal Point Gallery's Unit Twenty - One, Southend -on-Sea (2018) and Pratt Institute, New York (2019).

Areas of research interest

  • Contemporary Art
  • Inter-disciplinary fiction, performance, story-telling
  • Field Recording, Listening and Soundscapes
  • Surreal Psychogeography
  • Night Shift


  • MA Fine Art, Chelsea College of Art and Design, London (2005)
  • BA Fine Art, Central St Martins College of Art and Design, London (1996 - 1999)

Funding or awards received

  • Kingston University, Kingston School of Art, Studentship / Bursary 2016 - 2022
  • Kingston School of Art Conference and Event Fund 2017
  • Kingston School of Art Conference and Event Fund 2018
  • Kingston School of Art Conference and Event Fund 2019
  • Graduate Research School Activity Support Fund for PhD Researchers 2018 - 19
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