John Hughes

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


This PhD explores sonic narrative writing as contemporary art practice. It is situated within my immediate work environment: as a Station Supervisor positioned in London Underground stations during the 'Engineering Hours' night shift. A strange and little-known part of London Transport history is used as a starting point: the capture and public display of wildlife killed at the time of electrification of the underground railway during its expansion into suburbia at the start of the 20th Century. Embracing the materials and territory of my work environment opens up expansive and political possibilities for embedded narrative. Through the performance of a fiction, the research addresses the political realities of a working environment where the loss of jobs and the replacement of the workforce with automation is seen as progress. Adopting a feminist theoretical framework the narrative satirises masculine sensibilities, often with a comic and satirical slant.

  • 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, 2020 and 2022), The London Open, Whitechapel Gallery (2012) and New Contemporaries (2006). I have taken part in group shows and performances at Five Years and studio1.1 and as a member of artist group We Are Publication have taken part in group and collaborative exhibitions, screenings and broadcasts at Camden Arts Centre (2020), The Stanley Picker Gallery, London (2019) and Twenty - One Space, Focal Point Gallery, Southend (2019).

Areas of research interest

  • Sonic Narrative Writing As Contemporary Art Practice
  • DIY Sound Production
  • Feminist City Space
  • Embedded narrative
  • Night shift
  • Art based narrative and experimental music
  • Analogue


  • 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)
  • Diploma in Foundation Studies, Camberwell College of Art and Design, London (1995 - 1996)

Funding or awards received

  • Kingston University, Kingston School of Art, Studentship / Bursary 2016 - 2022
  • Kingston School of Art Conference and Event Fund 2017 / 2018 / 2019 / 2021/ 2022
  • Graduate Research School Activity Support Fund for PhD Researchers 2018 - 19 / 2019 - 20 / 2021 -22
  • Geo-Humanities, Royal Holloway University, Summer School Post - Conflux Internship Award (Techne) 2020
  • Graduate Research School Completion Award 2022, Kingston University