David Birkin

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David Birkin
Born David Tristan Birkin
United Kingdom
Nationality British
Alma mater University of Oxford
Slade School of Fine Art
Spouse(s) Eloise Fornieles (m. 2009); separated

David Tristan Birkin (born 1977) is a British artist based in London and New York specializing in photography, performance, and sculpture.



Birkin comes from a family of artists that includes his writer and film director father Andrew, singer and actress aunt Jane, his actress grandmother Judy Campbell, cousins Charlotte Gainsbourg and Lou Doillon, and his late poet and musician brother Anno.

Education and training[edit]

Birkin graduated with a degree in Human Sciences (Anthropology) at Oxford University in 1999.

In 2009, Birkin began a postgraduate degree at the University College London's Slade School of Fine Art with postgraduate funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council. He received a bursary from the National Media Museum and was awarded the Sovereign Art Prize for his Diptych exhibited at the Barbican in 2010. In 2011, Birkin graduated from Slade with an MA in Fine Art.

Birkin was an artist-in-residence in Volunteer Lawyers of the Arts' Art & Law Program in 2012 and at Yaddo in 2013.[1] In 2014, he completed a fellowship with the Whitney Museum of American Art's Independent Study Program in New York.[2]


Before his full-time career in the arts, Birkin first worked as an actor in film and theatre, including productions for the Royal National Theatre, Peter Hall Company, and Brooklyn Academy of Music, and narrated the English translation of the 1953 film Les statues meurent aussi at the French Institute in London. He has also appeared in two episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation: Family as Rene Picard and Rascals as young Jean-Luc Picard.[3]

He exhibited as part of the Saatchi Gallery's 2011 New Sensations exhibition.[4] He curated an exhibition at the Tallinn Kunstihoone in Estonia titled Moments of Reprieve: Representing Loss in Contemporary Photography, featuring works by Adam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarin, Ori Gersht, Idris Khan, Eleonora Rossi, Indre Serpytyte, and Taryn Simon.[5][6]

He has since written and photographed editorial commissions on subjects ranging from the deforestation of orangutan habitat in Borneo to the Afghan Film Institute in Kabul, and has performed in films by the artist Nathaniel Mellors for the 2009 Tate Triennial, the 2010 British Art Show at the Hayward Gallery, Ourhouse at the ICA in London, and the 2011 Venice Biennale.[7]

Birkin had his first solo art exhibition in 2007 in London and his first solo public exhibition opened at Mosaic Rooms, London in 2015.[8]

Personal life[edit]

In 2009, Birkin married British performance artist Eloise Fornieles in a disused slate mine in North Wales. They have since separated.[9]

Birkin is related to theatre and opera director Sophie Hunter through Birkin's aunt Jane.[10][11][12][13] He is also a close friend of Hunter's husband, the actor Benedict Cumberbatch who has been an active patron of his brother's namesake charity Anno's Africa.[14]

Selected works[edit]

  • 2015 Memory Lab | MUDAM Museum of Modern Art, Luxembourg
  • 2015 Sensor | FotoFest, Houston
  • 2015 L’Été Photographique | Centre d’Art et Photographie de Lectoure, Toulouse
  • 2015 COBRA 1.7 | 71a Gallery, London
  • 2015 Mouths at the Invisible Event | The Mosaic Rooms, London
  • 2014 ISP Exhibition | Whitney Museum of American Art, New York
  • 2013 Expo 1: New York | MoMA PS1 Rockaway Dome, New York
  • 2013 Lieux de Mémoire | Sumarria Lunn Gallery, London
  • 2013 Some Fifty Miles of Concrete Pavement | (Art) Amalgamated, New York
  • 2013 Artist in Residence Exhibition | NARS Foundation, Brooklyn
  • 2012 The World in London | The Photographers’ Gallery, London
  • 2012 Celeste Prize Exhibition | Museo Centrale Montemartini, Rome
  • 2012 Moments of Reprieve | Paradise Row, London
  • 2012 VLA Art & Law Residency Exhibition | Dumbo Arts Center, Brooklyn
  • 2012 Fresh Faced & Wild Eyed | The Photographers’ Gallery, London
  • 2012 Photographers Transcending the Print | Photo 50, London
  • 2011 Mirror Gaze | Solyanka State Gallery, Moscow
  • 2011 New Sensations | Saatchi Gallery, London
  • 2011 Everlast | ICA, London
  • 2011 Moments of Reprieve | Tallinn Kunstihoone, Estonia
  • 2011 MA Degree Show | Slade School of Fine Art, University College London
  • 2010 Sovereign Art Prize Exhibition | Barbican Centre, London
  • 2010 East Wing IX | Courtauld Institute of Art
  • 2010 Exposure | National Media Museum
  • 2010 Aktualnosci UK: Photography in Britain | Photomonth, Krakow
  • 2009 Starting with a Photograph | Saatchi Gallery, London
  • 2009 Natural Wonders | Baibakov Art Projects, Moscow
  • 2009 Photocinema | Format ’09 Photography Festival, Derby
  • 2008 Form | Galerie Nuke, Paris
  • 2008 The Body Beyond Death | Trolley, London

Awards and recognition[edit]

  • 2013-14 Whitney Museum Independent Study Program
  • 2013 Artist in Residence, Yaddo, New York
  • 2013 Artist Fellowship, NARS Foundation, Brooklyn
  • 2012 Slade School of Fine Art, University College London - Summer School Teaching Residency
  • 2012 Four Corners Residency, London (Arts Council, England)
  • 2012 Celeste Prize, Rome
  • 2011-12 VLA Art & Law Residency, New York
  • 2009-11 Arts & Humanities Research Council Scholarship
  • 2010 Sovereign European Art Prize
  • 2009 National Media Museum Bursary


External links[edit]