Philip Ridley

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Philip Ridley
Born 1964 (age 50–51)
East London, England
Occupation Writer, artist, film director

Philip Ridley (born 1964 in East London)[1] is an English artist working with various media.


Ridley was born in Bethnal Green, in the East End of London, where he still lives and works. Ridley studied painting at Saint Martin's School of Art and his work has been exhibited throughout Europe and Japan. He started as both a performance artist and the creator of a long sequence of charcoal drawings called The Epic of Oracle Foster.[2] One drawing from this sequence, "Corvus Cum", portraying a man ejaculating a black bird, was exhibited at the ICA in London while Ridley was still a student and – with calls for it to be displayed behind a curtain – became a cause célèbre.[3] Ridley also started his own theatre group as a student, acting in many of the productions, and made several short art films, including Visiting Mr Beak which starred the veteran actor Guy Rolfe. His short film for Channel 4, The Universe of Dermot Finn, was officially selected for the Cannes Film Festival, where it was a critical success and went on to receive theatrical distribution.[4]

Ridley has written three books for adults, Crocodilia, In the Eyes of Mr. Fury, and Flamingoes in Orbit; the screenplay for The Krays[5] feature film; ten adult stage plays: The Pitchfork Disney, the multi-award-winning The Fastest Clock in the Universe, Ghost from a Perfect Place, Vincent River, the controversial Mercury Fur, Leaves of Glass, Piranha Heights, Tender Napalm, Shivered and Dark Vanilla Jungle; plus a further five plays for young people: Karamazoo, Fairytaleheart, Moonfleece, Sparkleshark and Brokenville.[6]

He has also directed two feature films from his own screenplays: The Reflecting Skin – winner of 11 international awards – and The Passion of Darkly Noon[7] (winner of the Best Director Prize at the Porto Film Festival) and one short film, The Universe of Dermot Finn.[8]

His children's books include Scribbleboy (shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal), Kasper in the Glitter (nominated for the Whitbread Prize), Mighty Fizz Chilla (shortlisted for the Blue Peter Book of the Year Award), ZinderZunder, Vinegar Street, and Krindlekrax (winner of both the Smarties Prize and the WH Smith Mind-Boggling Book Award). The stage play of Krindlekrax – adapted by Ridley himself – premiered at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre in the summer of 2002. His children's novel Zip's Apollo was published in 2005.[9]

He is also a photographer – he created the cover images for Ridley: Plays 1 and Ridley: Plays 2, (published by Methuen) and regularly exhibits portraits of friends and images of East London, the two main themes of his photographic output – and a poet (his work has appeared in several collections). He co-wrote, with Nick Bicat, two songs that appeared in his film The Passion of Darkly Noon, ("Who Will Love Me Now?", sung by PJ Harvey – later covered by Sunscream – and "Look What You've Done" sung by Gavin Friday). Ridley has won both the Evening Standard's Most Promising Newcomer to British Film and Most Promising Playwright Awards. He is the only person ever to receive both prizes.[10]

Ridley's third film as writer-director, Heartless, premiered at the Frightfest horror film festival in London in August 2009.[11] The film stars Jim Sturgess, Clémence Poésy, Noel Clarke, Eddie Marsan, Luke Treadaway, Ruth Sheen and Timothy Spall, and was released in the UK in May 2010.[12] It was the first mainstream British film to be released across all platforms (theatrical, DVD, Blu-ray, download) at the same time.[13] In addition, a new collection of his adult plays was published by Methuen (including Vincent River, Mercury Fur, Leaves of Glass and Piranha Heights, with a new introduction by Ridley). An opera for teenagers titled Tarantula in Petrol Blue was recently premiered by Aldeburgh Music.[14]

He was featured on BBC 2's flagship arts programme The Culture Show on 2 March 2012.[15]

List of works (incomplete)[edit]



Adult Stage Plays

Plays for Young People

Plays for Children

  • 2002 – Krindlekrax
  • 2004 – Daffodil Scissors


  • 2007 – On Such A Day (concert piece)
  • 2009 – Tarantula in Petrol Blue (opera)


Radio plays[edit]

  • 1989 – October Scars the Skin
  • 1989 – The Aquarium of Coincidences
  • 1991 – Shambolic Rainbow


From the film The Passion of Darkly Noon (music Nick Bicat)

From the film Heartless (music Nick Bicat)

  • Heartless (sung by Jim Sturgess)
  • This Is The World We Live In ( sung by Joe Echo)
  • What Skin Is All About (sung by Joe Echo)
  • The Other Me (sung by Joe Echo)
  • It Must Be Somewhere (sung by Mary Leay)
  • The Darker It Gets ( sung by Joe Echo)
  • In You Are All The Stories ( sung by Joe Echo)
  • Beautiful (sung by Joe Echoe)
  • Phoenix in Dynamite Sky (sung by Joe Echo)

From the stage play Tender Napalm (music Nick Bicat)

  • Fade And Float (sung by Mary Leay)


Group Shows

  • 1981 – New Contemporaries, ICA, London.
  • 1982 – New Contemporaries, ICA, London.
  • 1983 – Christie's Student Show, Christie's, London.
  • 1984 – The Leicester Exhibition, Leicester.
  • 1985 – Open Drawing Exhibition, Tettenhall Gallery, Wolverhampton.
  • 1985 – Open Exhibition, Lamont Gallery, London.
  • 1986 – Ten Painters, 7th Floor Gallery, St. Martin's School of Art, London.
  • 1986 – Summer Exhibition, Bernard Baron Gallery, London.
  • 1987 – Group Show, Tom Allen Centre, London.
  • 1987 – Selected Show, Lamont Gallery, London.
  • 1987 – Young Contemporaries, Birch & Conran, London.
  • 1988 – Decency, Discretly Bizarre Gallery, London.
  • 1988 – Selected Show, Lamont Gallery, London.
  • 1988 – Mendacity, Discretly Bizarre Gallery, London.
  • 1988 – Magical Cats, Lamont Gallery, London.
  • 1988 – Art Jonction International, Nice, France.
  • 1988 – Bergamo Art Fair, Bergamo, Italy.

Solo Shows

  • 1985 – The Roaring Dreams Show, Tom Allen Centre, London.
  • 1985 – The Feeling Landscapes Show, Bernard Baron Gallery, London.
  • 1985 – The Glittering Gargolyes Show, The Fallen Angel, London.
  • 1986 – Mermaids, Monsters and Sleeping Moons, Mermaid Theatre, London.
  • 1986 – Recent Images, The Fallen Angel, London.
  • 1986 – The Epic of Oracle Foster, Lamont Gallery, London.
  • 1987 – Shy Moon, The Garden Gallery, London.
  • 1989 – The Vingegar Blossoms, Lamont Gallery, London.
  • 2007 – Recent Portraits (photography exhibition)
  • 2007 – East End (photography exhibition)
  • 2008 – Recent Portraits 2 (photography exhibition)

Selected works in anthologies[edit]

  • Poem "The Silver Hat" in the collection Love (edited by Fiona Waters)
  • Poem "The Prince and the Snail" in collection The Works 4 (edited by Gaby Morgan)
  • Three poems in collection Poems for the Retired Nihilist (edited by Graham Bendel)

In media[edit]

  • The song "Fury Eyes" (from The Creatures' second album, Boomerang) is dedicated to Ridley's novel In the Eyes of Mr. Fury.
  • Ridley was one of 25 contemporary British writers asked to contribute a scene to NT25 Chain Play, celebrating 25 years of the Royal National Theatre in London.
  • Ridley's song Who Will Love Me Now? (as sung by P.J. Harvey) was selected as Favourite Film Song by Radio 1 in 1998. It was covered by the techno/house band Sunscreem; the cover entered the top 40 UK chart and was used in the film South West 9.
  • In 1996 Hungary's The Titanic Film Festival had a major retrospective of Ridley's work.

Notable awards won[edit]

Notable award nominations[edit]


External links[edit]