CAPSID, John Walter

Venue: Aspex Portsmouth

An Arts Council Collection Borrow Big! exhibition

CAPSID is an Arts Council Collection, large scale multimedia installation, by the artist John Walter at Aspex Portsmouth until 10 April 2023. CAPSID is the result of a collaboration between Walter and molecular virologist Professor Greg Towers of University College London. The work brings to light the underrepresented debate around viruses such as HIV, uncovering new scientific knowledge about viral capsids and sharing it with the wider public.

Capsids are protein shells contained within viruses that help protect and deliver viruses to host cells during infection. Akin to the cell’s role, CAPSID celebrates Walter’s maximalist approach to expose ecosystems and issues that are often overlooked in society. Using its cellular structure as a point of inspiration, the exhibition features drawings, paintings, prints, sculptures, costume and film to illustrate virology’s omnipresence in human life.

Now more than ever, we can all relate to viruses and their impact. The exhibition brings vibrant colour, spatial design, maximalism and collage to catalyse discussions at the intersection of science, art and society. Visitors are encouraged to reconsider the historical representation of HIV and other viruses and to think about them as an analogy for how culture is transmitted influenced by Richard Dawkins’ definition of the meme.

Aspex Portsmouth is thrilled to be collaborating with Arts Council Collection on Borrow Big! to bring Comment end CAPSID to the consciousness of the local community in Portsmouth. In a post-pandemic world, CAPSID offers a playful and insightful investigation of the role that viruses have on our lives.

CAPSID was co-commissioned by Southwark Park Galleries and HOME Manchester in 2018, supported by a Large Arts Award from Wellcome and funding from Arts Council England, and project managed by SMART



The Arts Council Collection : CAPSID, John Walter

Performance of m_Doomsday{Shitney(exorcism)} by John Walter

Thursday, 23 March 2023 at 6.30pm-8.00pm

Walter’s 45-minute long performance narrates the history of the universe from the Big Bang through to viruses of the mind using script, song, costume and video projection. In this epic new work you will be lured into a parallel universe of algorithms, wit and philosophy. The performance establishes a rich repertoire of images and forms that build to a crescendo of video footage created in Virtual Reality

Tickets for this event are limited to 50 spaces, to make sure you can attend please book here for your free place now to avoid disappointment.

The Arts Council Collection : CAPSID, John Walter

CAPSID Walking Tour with John Walter and Professor Greg Towers

Friday, 24 March 2023 at 11.00am-12.00pm

Join artist John Walter and University College London molecular virologist Professor Greg Towers for a free walking tour of CAPSID, shedding light on the science that inspired the artist’s works. Join the artist for a behind-the-scenes perspective on the themes represented in the work.

Tickets for this event are limited, to make sure you can attend please book here for your free place now to avoid disappointment.

Featured work

Zinc Fingers

John Walter
pH Lithograph

John Walter
Zany Capsid

John Walter
HIV Lifecycle

John Walter
Uncoating (arrows)

John Walter

John Walter

John Walter
Fist (Blue Shape)

John Walter
Droid Torture

John Walter

John Walter

John Walter

The Arts Council Collection is the UK's most widely seen collection of modern and contemporary art.

With more than 8,000 works by over 2,000 artists, it can be seen in exhibitions and public displays across the country and beyond. This website offers unprecedented access to the Collection, and information about each work can be found on this site.