Past Events

Carbon Slowly Turning: Movement, Energy, Landscape

Conference – Ingrid Pollard, Evan Ifekoya, Richard Hylton, Gilane Tawadros, Liz Wells, Ella Mills, Cora Gilroy-Ware, Sheena Calvert, Ajamu X, Jackie Kay

  • 6 May 2022
  • 10:00 – 7:30 pm
  • On the occasion of the Ingrid Pollard: Carbon Slowly Turning exhibition, MK Gallery and the Paul Mellon Centre for British Art are collaborating on their third conference, also available to watch online.
  • MK Gallery, Milton Keynes and Online

This conference is imagined as a conversation with the exhibition, using it as a point of departure. At times, Pollard’s work will be directly referenced and, at others, ideas and strands of dialogue will emerge and escape from it. We are interested in thinking about movement, and the connections between the histories of art, energy, body cultures, landscape, geology and physiological aesthetics, both historically and in the present. The movement of the body in space and through time has preoccupied Pollard across her career, whether she is working with photography, kinetic sculpture or ceramics. Bodies, both real and metaphorical, are perpetually set in motion – twisting, turning, bowing, walking, dancing, sweating, punching – engaging with ideas and questions about ecology, temporality, race and gender as they move across the landscape.

Tickets from £10 to £35, bursaries are available.

Conference Schedule (MK Gallery)


10.00–11.00: Exhibition viewing and coffee

11.00–11.15: Welcome by Anthony Spira (Director, MK Gallery)

SESSION 1: Deep Time; Art, Writing, History

11.15–11.45: Evan Ifekoya (Artist and Energy Worker) Spiral Time and Sacred Reverberations

11.45–12.15: Richard Hylton (Lecturer in Contemporary Art, SOAS) Overcoming Hostile Environments

12.15–12.45: Discussion chaired by Gilane Tawadros (Chief Executive, DACS)

12.45–14.00: Lunch

SESSION 2: Matter and Materials; Chemicals, Process, Publication

14.00–14.30: Liz Wells (Emeritus Professor in Photographic Culture, University of Plymouth) Hidden Histories and Storying Place

14.30–15.00: Ella S. Mills (Associate Lecturer in History of Art, University of Plymouth) Texture & Tone in the Work of Ingrid Pollard

15.00–15.30: Discussion chaired by Cora Gilroy-Ware (Associate Professor, History of Art, University of Oxford)

15.30–16.00: Tea

16.00–16.45: Sheena Calvert (Book Designer) and Ajamu X (Artist) The Book and The Sensuousness of Process

16.45–17.00: Comfort break


17.00–18.00: A Life in Protest: Jackie Kay (Poet) and Ingrid Pollard (Artist) in conversation

18.00–19.30: Reception

Note: The online conference will take place 11.00–18.00. Tickets also available on the MK Gallery Website.


MK Gallery Tickets: £35/£25
Online Tickets: £20/£10

Ticket prices for Ingrid Pollard: Carbon Slowly Turning includes lunch and refreshments plus a ticket to the exhibition at MK Gallery. Please let us know of any dietary requirements when booking.


We are offering up to 10 bursaries to support individuals who may not otherwise be able to attend the conference. Bursaries will cover the ticket price (including the online option), travel and some expenses including childcare. If you would like to be considered for a bursary please email MK Gallery, and write ‘Carbon Slowly Turning Bursary Request’ in the subject field, outlining your request for a supported place by 10am Monday 02 May 2022.

About the Exhibition

Ingrid Pollard: Carbon Slowly Turning, 12 March – 29 May 2022

“Ingrid Pollard’s practice has long been focused on the human body, astrophysics and geology, and in particular geology in the formation of the stars and planets. The title of this project – Carbon Slowly Turning – invites us to reflect on geological time in relation to human time. On the one hand, the millennia in which carbon, rock and other natural materials are made and, on the other, the brevity of human existence by comparison and the affecting nature of geology on the human form. A number of Pollard’s works reflect on the cyclical nature of history and human experience, where everything is subject to change, sometimes over hundreds or thousands of years, at other times in the blink of an eye.” – Gilane Tawadros, Exhibition Curator.

This major survey of Guyanese-born British artist and photographer, Ingrid Pollard, is the first exhibition to fully explore Pollard’s pioneering and experimental practice, from the 1980s to the present day.

Ingrid Pollard is renowned for using photography as social practice, working with portrait and landscape photography to question our relationship with the natural world and interrogate social constructs such as Britishness, race, sexuality and identity. Working across a remarkable variety of techniques, from photography, printmaking, drawing and installation, to artist’s books, video, audio and sculpture, Pollard’s practice combines meticulous research and experimental creative processes to make art that is at once deeply personal and socially engaged.

The exhibition is curated by Gilane Tawadros in collaboration with the artist and has been organised by MK Gallery with Turner Contemporary.

Winner of the Freelands Award 2020 Exhibition supported by Freelands Foundation.

Supported by a Publications Grant from the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art and the Association for Art History.

In collaboration with:

About the speakers

  • Ingrid Pollard in a white short with an orange necklace against a plain background.

    Ingrid Pollard (born Georgetown, Guyana) is one of the leading figures in contemporary British art. Carbon Slowly Turning is the first major survey of her forty-year career and includes delicately hand-tinted landscape photographs, a flotilla of small ceramic boats and a cast of protagonists that includes boxers, musicians, tango dancers and writers. The exhibition also includes two new works – a film that meditates on the human body as it moves through space and time, and a triptych of monumental, dynamic sculptures that reference our shared history of power relations and resurgence.

    Pollard is renowned for using portrait and landscape photography to question our relationship with the natural world and to interrogate social constructs such as Britishness, race, sexuality and identity. Working across a variety of techniques from photography, printmaking, drawing and installation to artists’ books, video and audio, she combines meticulous research and experimental processes to make art that is at once deeply personal and socially resonant.

  • Evan Ifekoya is a London-based artist, educator and energy worker who, through sound, text, video and performance, places demands on existing systems and institutions of power, to recentre and prioritise the experience and voice of those previously marginalised. Their practice considers art as a site where resources can be both redistributed and renegotiated, whilst challenging the implicit rules and hierarchies of public and social space. Through archival and sonic investigations, they speculate on blackness in abundance. Their ongoing investigation considers the somatic experience of listening, the healing potential of sound and spiritual ecologies.

    They established the collectively run and QTIBPOC (queer, trans*, intersex, black and people of colour) led Black Obsidian Sound System (B.O.S.S.) in 2018. Presentations in 2022 include a solo exhibition at Migros Museum, Zurich and a moving image commission with LUX in collaboration with University of Reading. They have presented exhibitions, moving image and performances across UK Europe and Internationally, most recently: Herbert Art Gallery and Museum as nominees of the Turner Prize (with B.O.S.S. 2021); Gus Fischer New Zealand (2020); De Appel Netherlands (2019); Gasworks London (2018).

  • Richard Hylton is an exhibition organiser, curator, writer and artist. Since the early 1990s, he has organized a significant number of exhibitions involving a wide range of practitioners including Eugene Palmer, Barbara Walker, Ruth Maclennan, Matthew Holding and Alicia Paz. He has also edited a variety of publications including The Best Janette Parris, Doublethink: The Art of Donald Rodney and The Holy Bible: Old Testament an artist’s book by David Hammons which he co-produced with Virginia Nimarkoh. In 2001 he devised the exhibition Landscape Trauma in the Age of Scopophilia, featuring new commissions including by Ingrid Pollard.

    Awarded a PhD in 2018 from Goldsmiths College, University of London, his research now focuses on aspects of modern and contemporary art practice and display within the international arena. He is currently writing a monograph on Donald Rodney (1961–1998) one of the most important but under-studied British artists of his generation. African American art in the international arena also figures prominently in Hylton’s scholarship, resulting in published essays in the Routledge Companion to African American Art History, the International Review of African American, The Burlington Magazine, Art Monthly and Nka Journal of Contemporary African Art. The Art of Social Distance in the Age of #Black Lives Matter, published in Art Review in June 2020, was a short lament on the often-unspoken separation between the museum and the brutality of everyday life, following the murder of George Floyd. Hylton is currently working on a new audio work Public Library UK which involves some forty participants reading from Kenneth Little’s 1948 study Negroes in Britain.

  • Gilane Tawadros is the Chief Executive of DACS, a not-for-profit visual artists rights management organisation and is Co-Director of the Art360 Foundation which she established in 2016 with Mark Waugh. She is a curator and writer and was the founding Director of the Institute of International Visual Arts (Iniva) in London, chaired by Professor Stuart Hall, which, over a decade, achieved an international reputation as a ground-breaking cultural agency at the leading edge of artistic and cultural debates nationally and internationally. She has written extensively on contemporary art and curated a number of international exhibitions. She was the first art historian to be appointed to the Blanche, Edith and Irving Laurie Chair in Women’s Studies, Rutgers the State University of New Jersey, USA. She is Chair of the Stuart Hall Foundation and Trustee of the Stuart Croft Foundation. Her most recent book The Sphinx Contemplating Napoleon: Global Perspectives on Contemporary Art and Difference is published by Bloomsbury.

  • Headshot of Liz Wells, in front of bookcase

    Liz Wells writer, curator and lecturer edited The Photography Reader and The Photography Culture Reader (2019; 2003 1st ed.) and Photography: A Critical Introduction (2021, 6th ed.; trans, Greek, 2008; Chinese, 2012; Korean, 2016) and is a co-editor for photographies, Routledge journals. Publications on landscape include Land Matters: Landscape Photography, Culture and Identity (2011; reprint 2021). She has contributed many essays within artists’ books, exhibition catalogues, journals and other edited collections. She is series editor for Photography, Place, Environment.

    Exhibitions as curator include: Sea, Sand and Soil: Plastics in our Environment (Pingyao International Photography Festival, Sept 2021); Seedscapes: Future-Proofing Nature (Impressions Gallery, Bradford, Yorks., Sept – Dec 2020; UK tour 2021); Layers of Visibility, (Nicosia Municipal Arts Centre, 2018/9; co-curator, Yiannis Toumazis); Light Touch, (Baltimore Washington International Airport, 2014); Futureland Now – John Kippin, Chris Wainwright (Laing Gallery, Newcastle, 2012/13); Sense of Place, European Landscape Photography (BOZAR, Brussels, 2012); and Landscapes of Exploration, British Art from Antarctica (UK: Plymouth, 2012; Cambridge, 2013; Bournemouth, 2015).

    She is Emeritus Professor in Photographic Culture, Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Business, University of Plymouth, UK, and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate, University of Gothenburg, Sweden, 2017 and Honored Educator, Society for Photographic Education, 2021. She is British, based in Devon, UK.

  • Head and shoulder image of Ella S. Mills in front of a beige background

    Ella S. Mills works with artists and writers to produce texts, events and exhibitions. She is an art historian and curator of contemporary art. She has expertise with interdisciplinary artist interviewing and analysis, drawing on grounded theory methods to produce new meanings in art history. Ella is the founder of talking on corners, an independent visual art curating and producing practice based in research and critical thinking. Current curatorial projects – working with Lorna Rose – include a commission by Lauren Craig to create a public sound installation foregrounding Black and Brown creatives in Plymouth to coincide with the British Art Show, and guest curating an exhibition at MIRROR gallery (Jan–March 2023). Funded by Arts Council England, Ella has been working through the delays of the pandemic to produce a project involving a commission of new work by Ingrid Pollard. The project is a multi-faceted, multi-partner endeavour, including a solo exhibition in Aug–Oct 2022 at the Thelma Hulbert Gallery and a scholarly speaker series supported by PMC. In 2017–2018 Ella was Postdoctoral Researcher on the Black Artists & Modernism project led by Sonia Boyce, a project culminating in the BBC 4 documentary Whoever Heard of a Black Artist. In 2019 she was awarded a Paul Mellon Centre Post-Doctoral Fellowship to write her monograph (Bloomsbury, 2023) on the fine art practices of Sutapa Biswas, Sonia Boyce, Lubaina Himid, Claudette Johnson and Ingrid Pollard. Ella is currently a lecturer in contemporary and modernist art histories at the University of Plymouth.

  • Cora Gilroy-Ware headshot sitting on a bench

    Cora Gilroy-Ware’s research explores continuities between historic and contemporary, ancient and modern. Her doctoral project on the surprisingly under-researched classical nude in late-eighteenth and early-nineteenth century British art led to her first book, The Classical Body in Romantic Britain, and a broader interest in neglected chapters in the history of visual classicism. As a scholar of BIPOC heritage, she seeks to reconcile decolonial approaches with traditional art historical areas of concern. With support from the Henry Moore Foundation, she is currently at work on a second book project on adaptations of Greco-Roman art, particularly marble sculpture, among artists of African and indigenous American descent including Mary Edmonia Lewis, Augusta Savage, Selma Burke, Carrie Mae Weems and Kara Walker. She has curated exhibitions at Tate Britain and the Huntington, and written for the London Review of Books, Apollo, The White Review and other journals.

  • Headshot of Sheena Calvert wearing a black top and glasses against a beige background

    Sheena Calvert is a philosopher, book designer/artist and writer. Her research addresses the changing relationships between language, ethics and technology. She is the designer for Ingrid Pollard: Carbon Slowly Turning, and Ajamu : Archive . Along with Ajamu X, she is the co-founder of Spit & Spider Press, an alternative publishing venture focusing on radical materiality in the book.

  • Head and Shoulder image of Ajamu X wearing a black beret hat, black suit and purple tie

    Ajamu X is a fine art photographer, archive curator and radical sex activist. His practice includes large format photography and early analogue printing processes which unapologetically celebrate black queer bodies, pleasure, the erotic senses and difference. He is currently a PhD candidate at the Royal College of Art where his research interrogates the materiality of both the photographic and sexual darkroom, and the sensuous dimensions of the photographic image.

    Along with Dr. Sheena Calvert, he is the co-founder of Spit & Spider Press, an alternative publishing venture focusing on radical materiality in the book.

  • Half body photo of Jackie Kay in black, purple and beige harlequin pattern jumper, hand to head in front of a busy green pub background

    Jackie Kay was born and brought up in Scotland. She is the author of – among other books – The Adoption Papers, which won the Forward Prize, Red Dust Road, winner of the Scottish Book of the Year Award, Trumpet, and the Costa-shortlisted Fiere. She was the third Makar, or National Poet for Scotland (2016–2021), a former Chancellor of the University of Salford and Professor of Creative Writing at Newcastle University.