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School of English and Drama

Dr Julia Bardsley, BA (Hons) PERFORMANCE ARTS (Middlesex)


Lecturer in Performance



I am a theatre artist working with the interplay of performance, video projection, pinhole photography, psychological garments, sculptural objects and hybrid personae. 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 and the performer, the artist and the creative process, live presence and the visual art object. The trilogy of pieces - Trans-Acts, Almost The Same (feral rehearsals for violent acts of culture) and Aftermaths: a tear in the meat of vision - have been presented in London, Glasgow, Spain, Slovenia, Croatia, Portugal, Belgium and Italy.

In a new phase of research, under the creative umbrella of The House of Wonder & Panic, I have developed a series of process events entitled Reading Rooms. The Reading Rooms so far have repurposed a political, a philosophical and an entomological text: Mark Fisher’s Capitalist Realism, Gaston Bachelard’s The Poetics of Space and Maurice Maeterlinck's The Life of the Bee. The Reading Rooms have been presented in London, Lisbon and Birmingham.

An 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 presented between 2011-16 in the UK and Brazil.

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.

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

In 2007, I was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Middlesex University.

From 1991-4 I was joint Artistic Director of the Leicester Haymarket Theatre and Young Vic Theatre, London.

‘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 

Professional Activities

  • External Assessor for BA Acting revalidation. Central St Martins, London. 14th March 2017
  • Invited speaker for: To work or not to work: Unpaid Internships within the art sector. Organised by the Creative Careers Student Committee (CCSC) at King’s College London. 15th March 2017
  • 19th July – 12th August 2017 – Bespoke mentoring & provocation residency for Australian Artist, Julie Vulcan with financial support from the Australia Council for the Arts. Residency run at Bardsley’s Ear_Eye_Gym studio, Portugal.

Undergraduate Teaching


  • DRA344: Practice-based Research Project
  • DRA262: Performing Personae


I have also taught on:

  • DRA118: Performance Texts in Practice
  • DRA353: Performance Company Research Project
  • DRA248: Adaptations
  • DRA111: Interventions
  • DRA108: Theatre and Its Others
  • DRA110: Making Theatre Work



Postgraduate Teaching


  • DRA7711: Practice-based Research Dissertation
  • DRA7103: Research Design


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.
  • 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.
  • Collaboration as combative coexistence – resisting cohesion, embracing complexity and encouraging multiple & diverse interpretations within the coexistent frame.
  • Staging spaces for reverie, rumination, riffing, unfinished thinking and hanging out.




cover of ā€˜uā€™ see the image of her ā€˜iā€™: pinhole photographs by Julia Bardsley‘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. Soft back edition published June 2016 – ISBN 978-0-9933064-0-2

'Syncopal Actions and Falling States' in Kira O'Reilly: Untitled (Bodies), ed. by Harriet Curtis and Martin Hargreaves, Intellect Live series (Intellect and Live Art Development Agency 2018).

'Oblique Themes & Still Centres' in The Music of Simon Holt (Boydell & Brewer, 2017).

'The Skin of the Theatre: An Interview with Julia Bardsley' 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).

'Inside Medea’s Lab' in The Think Tank Workbook (Pacitti Co & Live Art UK, 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 Anna Furse (Methuen Drama, 2011). Part One of Bardsley’s Divine Trilogy with introductory text and full script with images.

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)

Featured in SPILL Festival of Performance: On Agency 2010, ed. by Robert Pacitti and Sheila Ghelani (Pacitti Company, 2009-10)

Foolish Suicide Attempts – 20’ DVD. Complete video from Bardsley’s Trans-Acts: Act One: Transgression. Distributed by Unbound at LADA. Supported by a NESTA Fellowship & Arts Council England (2009).

Public Engagement


  • Invited panellist on BBC Radio 3's Free Thinking series - programme Is British Culture Getting Weirder? Recorded with live audience at Cafe Oto, London 28th February 2019, broadcast on BBC Radio 3, 5th March 2019 with podcast available online:
  • The Club of Round: experimental workshop for Stenbon School year 5. Part of the HEFCE funded Student Opportunity Outreach Project. Pinter Theatre, QMUL. 21st May 2015
  • Guest speaker for Double Exposures book launch at The Photographers Gallery, London 14th November 2014
  • Julia Bardsley interviewed for Double Exposures 2014
  • Invited chair of post show discussion for She She Pop event as part of LIFT at The Barbican, London. 4th June 2014 

Talks, Keynotes, and Conference Contributions (selected).

  • Artist Talk Series 2020: Bardsley’s Reading Rooms: staging spaces for reverie and acts of re(w)riting - research presentations 28th April Goldsmiths, University of London; 29th April University of Roehampton; 18th May Royal Conservatoire of Scotland; 23rd June De Montfort University (series postponed due to Covid-19)
  • Invited contributor to A Performance Hangout (off offline) - a four hour event with research interventions. Bardsley's performative paper delivered in the persona of a female bee-ing - the Apian Paradox 'hive party' contextualised in relation to the hangout - proposition to make spaces for savage thinking & 27 provocation prompt banners distributed in the hangout arena for rumination. For Dr Owen G. Parry at IASH, The University of Edinburgh. 24th June 2019 at Edinburgh College of Art.
  • Action Lectures Series: with Dickie Beau. Hosted & chaired by Bardsley as part of the new Action Lectures:Artists on Performance series at QMUL. 12th February 2015
  • Personas and Alter Egos dialogue with Lois Weaver and Dissection of The Director conversation with costume-maker, Sonja Harms - part of Bardsley’s PERSONA PORTRAITS exhibition at Peopling the Palace(s) Festival, QMUL 12th June 2015
  • Pacitti Company SPILL Think Tank: Salon – Artists Talk: Inside Medea’s Lab_(i)our - 8th May 2014
  • QMUL Quorum: Artists Presentation: Inside Medea’s Lab_(i)our - 26th March 2014. FADS QMUL
  • MEDEA_ACTIONS - performative lecture at UFPI – Federal University of Piaui, Teresina, Brazil. July 2012.
  • 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


Current & Recent Performance Projects

Reading Room_04 | Bardsley v Deleuze, Carlyle, Barthes & with Haraway

F,F,F 2 T,T+T (folding, fabricating, fashioning to tentacular thinking & troubling)

UNION/HOME | Folkestone | 17-19th September 2020 (postponed to 2021)

A ]performance s p a c e [ commission


An Apian Paradox photo by Andrew poppyReading Room_03 | social insect trilogy | part i. The Life of the Bee

Bardsley v Maeterlinck | An APIAN PARADOX

Peopling The Palace(s) Festival | 15th + 16th June 2018

G.C.K. Karnart, Lisbon | 27th + 28th July 2019

FIERCE! Festival, Birmingham | 20th October 2019


The Poetics of Space photo by Julia BardsleyThe Poetics of Space photo by Julia Bardsley


Reading Room_02: Bardsley v Bachelard: The Poetics of Space

Peopling The Palace(s) Festival | QMUL | 8th + 9th June 2017

G.C.K. Karnart, Lisbon | July 2020


Inside Capitalist Realism photo by Dani HarveyInside Capitalist Realism photo by Dani Harvey

(rogue) Reading Room_01: Bardsley v Fisher: Inside Capitalist Realism

Peopling The Palace(s) Festival | QMUL | 2nd June 2017


Performance/Exhibition/Installation Work

  • Persona Portraits: an exhibition of psychological garments from the fictions of Julia Bardsley. Peopling The Palace(s)Festival, QMUL 2015.
  • ‘u’ see the image of her ‘i’. An installation of pinhole photographs. Peopling the Palace(s) Festival, QMUL 2014.
  • Medea_DARK|ROOM photo by Andrew PoppyMEDEA: 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; Intimate Souvenirs from Me_(i)dea’s Lab: extractors edition - Deptford X Festival 2015; Intimate Souvenirs from Medea’s Lab_(i)our - Arts Council funded for Deptford X Festival 2014.
  • Julia Bardsely meta_familymeta_FAMILY. A 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.
  • Almost The Same (feral rehearsals for violent acts of culture) photo by Manuel VasonAlmost 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.
  • Aftermaths: a tear in the meat of vision photo by Simon AnnandAftermaths: 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.
  • Trans-Acts images by Julia BardsleyTrans-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.


Photo credits from top:

An Apian Paradox photo by Andrew poppy

The Poetics of Space photo by Julia Bardsley

Inside Capitalist Realism photo by Dani Harvey

Medea_DARK|ROOM photo by Andrew Poppy


Almost The Same (feral rehearsals for violent acts of culture) photo by Manuel Vason

Aftermaths: a tear in the meat of vision photo by Simon Annand

Trans-Acts images by Julia Bardsley


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