Artist Profile: Charles Avery

9 February 2022

Through drawings, sculptures and texts, Scottish artist Charles Avery’s ongoing project, The Islanders, explores the topology, cosmology and inhabitants of an imagined island.

Charles Avery’s Arts Council Collection work, Untitled (Bar of the Egg Eating Egret), 2010, is included in the Collection’s latest touring exhibition, The World We Live In: Art and the Urban Environment.

The World We Live In, which opens this month at Leicester Museum & Art Gallery (until 2 May), explores some of the many facets of urban life that have been a rich source of inspiration to artists throughout history. The exhibition brings together modern and contemporary works which variously consider how city dwellers engage with their built-up surroundings, through both real and imagined urban spaces.

Charles Avery’s drawing, Untitled (Bar of the Egg Eating Egret), 2010, which features in the exhibition, is part of Avery’s epic project entitled ‘The Islanders’ in which he explores an imaginary island and everything it contains through the eyes of an explorer.

Described by the artist as a 'philosophical allegory', The Islanders project, which Avery embarked on in 2004, takes as its subject an elaborate fictional territory, from the market of the main town Onomatopoeia to the Eternal Forest where an unknown beast called the Noumenon is held to reside.

The Islanders is an encyclopaedic investigation of an imaginary island and everything it contains, its people, customs, mythology, human history and natural history as seen through the eyes of an explorer.

This particular work depicts a bar where Only McPhew, the protagonist of the fiction, hatches a plan to capture the Noumenon, in the name of his love for Miss Miss, the female protagonist. The project can be read as a meditation on the philosophy of art-making and the world of ideas.




Image: Charles Avery, Untitled (Bar of the Egg Eating Egret), 2010. Arts Council Collection, Southbank Centre, London © Charles Avery. All rights reserved, DACS/Artimage 2022.

The World We Live In: Art and the Urban Environment is currently on show at Leicester Museum & Art Gallery until 2 May 2022. The exhibition will subsequently tour to Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery (21 May - 4 September 2022) and Glynn Vivian Art Gallery (18 September 2022 - 1 January 2023).

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The World We Live In

A touring exhibition of painting, sculpture, photography, and film that explores themes from urban development to migration and the relationship between inner cities and suburbia.
Drawing in the Collection

Explore drawings in the Arts Council Collection, including works by David Shrigley, Claudette Johnson, Euan Uglow and Sonia Boyce.

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.