School of English and Drama

Dr Julia Bardsley, BA Performance Arts (Middlesex)


Lecturer in Performance



I am a theatre artist working with an interplay of performance, video, photography, extreme garments, sculptural objects and the configuration of the audience. As a result of a three-year NESTA Fellowship, I set in motion a series of solo pieces, collectively entitled The Divine Trilogy, that forge an intimate dialogue between the audience & the performer, the artist & the creative process, live presence & the visual art object. The trilogy of pieces - Trans-ActsAlmost The Same (feral rehearsals for violent acts of culture) & Aftermaths: a tear in the meat of vision - have been presented in London, Glasgow, Spain, Slovenia, Croatia, Portugal, Belgium & Italy.

During 2010/11, I developed a modular ensemble piece, the meta_Family, presented in Teresina & Rio, Brazil & Outside AiR - QMUL, London. In 2012 editions of the project were presented at Trouble#8 Festival, Brussels & City of Women Festival, Ljubljana.

My ongoing research project is Medea: dark matter events. The project utilises the Medea myth to investigate thematic strands specifically related to female sexuality, the neurobiology of creativity and the performative physics of eroticism. There have been multiple manifestations of this project including; Intimates Souvenirs from Me_(i)dea’s Lab: extractors edition (Deptford X Festival 2015); Intimate Souvenirs from Medea’s Lab_(i)uor with Andrew Poppy’s Jason & Medea Go Boating (Arts Council funded for Deptford X Festival 2014) medea_DARK|ROOM (SPILL Festival 2013); Me_(i)dea Laboratorium (Being|Human Festival, King’s College London 2013); MEDEA_ACTIONS & MEDEAHOUSE (Teresina, Brazil 2012); Medea/batteries+re-charge Chamber (Deptford X Festival 2012); MEDEAROOM (What Matters Festival commission 2012) & Medea_Dark Matter Events (Deptford X Festival 2011),  

In 2014, under the Ear_Eye_Gym imprint, I published ‘u’ see the image of her ‘i’, a book of my pinhole photographs created between 2004-14.

Currently in the early stages of development is The House of Wonder & Panic, a contemplative and speculative prototype for ‘thought containers’.

From 1991-4 I was joint Artistic Director of the Leicester Haymarket & Young Vic Theatres. In 2007, I was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Middlesex University.

‘Bardsley is a really fascinating artist...She could have been running the National Theatre by now, but instead quite deliberately chose a different career path. In recent years she has been making inspired and unsettling work on the cusp between the theatre and the gallery.’
Lyn Gardner - The Guardian

Undergraduate Teaching

I have taught on:

  • DRA118: Performance Texts in Practice
  • DRA248: Adaptations
  • DRA344: Practice-based Research Project

Postgraduate Teaching

I have also taught on:

  • DRA7004: Performance Lab


Research Interests:

• Catastrophic Personae & the Performance of the Self as Other - including troubled identities/extreme bodies, the mutating female form: human to animal to human. Psychological garments. Disguise as a route to confession. Who are you when you are on stage? Placing the artist within the fiction.

• Spectacular Space & the Poetics of the Performance Arena – the construct & machinery of spectacle made visible – the wonder of mechanics and the mechanics of wonder. Visual & spatial dramaturgy.

• Violence & the Rituals of Theatre: an anthropological reading – the role and functions of the audience. Performance, mimetic desire and scapegoat mechanisms; the star & the scarred.

• Radical Canon: profane approaches to ‘sacred’ texts – extreme appropriation, filtration, mash-up, distortion lenses, regurgitation, (re)presenting. Classic texts and mythological narratives as independent objects of inquiry & appropriation as a discursive tool. Classic texts as structural receptacles for thinking.

• Strategies for Contemporary Performance-Making – making visible the creative process through the development of practical tools & presentation models. The process itself as material & content. The performance of research.


‘u’ see the image of her ‘i’: pinhole photographs by Julia Bardsley with essays by Andrew Poppy, Catherine Silverstone & Dominic Johnson (an EAR EYE GYM book published by POP BARD projects limited edition hardback 2014/softback edition 2015)

Featured in The Art of Living: an oral history of performance art by Dominic Johnson (Palgrave 2015)

Photographic collaboration with Manuel Vason, medea+/Jason- for Double Exposures: reversing the gaze. Co-publishers: Intellect Books & LADA (2015). Also Double Exposures book launch: guest speaker at The Photographers Gallery, 14th November 2014

'The Skin of The Theatre: An Interview with Julia Bardsley', in Critical Live Art: Contemporary Histories of Performance in the UK, ed. by Dominic Johnson (London and New York: Routledge, 2013)

'The Skin of The Theatre: An Interview with Julia Bardsley', Contemporary Theatre Review, 20, 3 (2010), 340-352

'Trans-Acts', in Theatre In Pieces: Politics, Poetics and Interdisciplinary Collaboration – An Anthology of Play Texts 1966-2010, ed. by A. Furse (Methuen Drama, 2011)

Featured in NRLA 30th Anniversary Boxed Set: NRLA 1979-2010: a personal history (including Trans-Acts, Almost The Same, Snow & Avalanche Thoughts), ed. by Dee Heddon, Jennie Klein, and Nikki Milican (Unbound, 2010)

Foolish Suicide Attempts. DVD. Distributed by Unbound at LADA. Supported by a NESTA Fellowship & Arts Council England (2009)


Current Performance/Exhibition/Installation Work

Me_(i)dea Laboratorium

created & performed by Julia Bardsley

With a desire to construct models of thinking, a mythic female figure labours to reduce the space between thought & its articulation. Oscillating across the speculative and operative, she attempts to map the velocity of ideas; moving flesh into diagram into flesh. She notates the neurological currents of her creative processes, formulating erotic equations & etching orgasmic potential onto discs of carbon.

Me_(i)dea laboratorium is part artist’s studio, part science laboratory; an installation of performed experiments, modulated, manipulated & controlled by the persona of Medea.

For more information on the performance click here, or for a video click here

Recent Performance/Exhibition/Installation Work

Persona Portraits: an exhibition of psychological garments from the fictions of Julia Bardsley. Part of Peopling The Palace(s)Festival, Queen Mary University of London 2015. Including a dialogue on personas and alter egos with Lois Weaver and Dissection of The Director conversation with costume-maker, Sonja Harms.

‘u’ see the image of her ‘i’. An installation of pinhole photographs as part of Peopling the Palace(s) Festival, Queen Mary University of London 2014.

with Lauren Barri Holstein, Song & Dance Routine – inter-generational performative dialogue. LADA/(re)Fresh commission for Peopling The Palace, QMUL 21st February 2013. Using the persona of Medea. Art Work remnant from the live action purchased by LADA.

MEDEA: dark matter events - Project manifestations: Medea: dm-events, Deptford X Sept/Oct 2011. MEDEAROOM, What Matters Festival commission, London April 2012. Medea|batteries +re-charge chamber, Deptford X July/Aug 2012. MEDEAHOUSE, 1000 Casas project Brazil August 2012. MEDEA_ACTIONS, performative lecture at UFPI – Federal University of Piaui, Teresina, Brazil. July 2012. Medea_DARK|ROOM, SPILL Festival of Performance, London April 2013 – Supported by SPILL/King’s College London co-commission. Part of King’s Visiting Research Fellow outcomes. Me_(i)dea Laboratorium: an installation with actions celebrating female pleasure & the performance of desire. King’s Arts & Humanities Festival – On Being Human. October 2013; Intimates Souvenirs from Me_(i)dea’s Lab: extractors edition (Deptford X Festival 2015); Intimate Souvenirs from Medea’s Lab_(i)uor (Arts Council funded for Deptford X Festival 2014).

meta_FAMILY. Modular research project. City of Women Festival, Ljubljana Slovenia October 2012. TROUBLE#8 Festival, Brussels June 2012. Outside AiR, QMU, London March 2011. coLABoratorio in collaboration with Panorama Festival, Rio De Janeiro, Brazil August 2010 & Teresina, Brazil July 2010.

with Lois Weaver, co-devisor & director of Performing In Agony-an analysis of stage fright.  Zoom Festival/ Performance Studies International 15, Mis-performance Regional Conference, Rijeka, Croatia. 4th September 2010

Almost The Same (feral rehearsals for violent acts of culture). Part 2: The Divine Trilogy. Lazio In Festival, Italy August 2012. Sacred Festival, London November 2010. S.P.A.C.E. UK, British Council La Laboral, Spain March 2009. Queer Zagreb Festival, Croatia October 2008. Sacred Festival May 2008. KARNART, Lisbon Portugal April 2008. NRLA Glasgow February 2008. Funded by Arts Council England & a Chelsea Theatre commission. Inside Almost The Same. 1hr radio programme made for Resonance FM. Broadcast Nov. 2010.

with Andrew Poppy Improvements On Nature. Sacred Festival, London November 2009. A Chelsea Theatre commission

Aftermaths: a tear in the meat of vision. Part 3: The Divine Trilogy. New Territories Festival, Glasgow March 2010. TROUBLE#5 Festival Brussels April 2009. SPILL Festival of Performance, London April 2009. Funded by Arts Council England & co-commissioned by New Territories, SPILL & TROUBLE Festivals. Featured in SPILL Festival of Performance: On Agency 2010. Publisher (Pacitti Company, 2009-10) Ed. Pacitti R, Ghelani S.

Performing The Persona. Dis-Play [11] Goldsmiths Performance Research Forum 12th November 2008. Artists’ Seminar Series. Middlesex University. 7th May 2009. Performative seminar using persona & materials from Trans-Acts.

Trans-Acts. Part 1: The Divine Trilogy. NRLA, Glasgow February 2005. TROUBLE#1 Festival, Brussels. SPILL Festival, London April 2007. KARNART, Lisbon Portugal April 2008. Supported by a NESTA Fellowship & Arts Council England.