Seán Cummins completed an MA in Fine Art at Goldsmiths College, London in 2000. He makes paintings by enlarging drawings of small plants. These works explore mortality and grief by inverting the figure-ground relationship in paintings of ‘vegetal being’. He recently had a solo exhibition at the Blyth Gallery, Imperial College, London. Previous projects have been shown in USA, Austria, Hungary, Poland, South Korea and South Africa as well as across the UK.  Seán attended the Vermont Studio Centre, USA in 2015 as a resident artist and was an Abbey Awardee at the British School in Rome, Italy in 1997. He is a resident studio artist at One Thoresby Street, Nottingham.


“Just as an almond tree monitors the increase of daylight, warmth, etc., before initiating the decision to blossom, so an artist should let expression grow and develop until the process is interrupted by an act it has been preparing all along.”

Michael Marder *


- My work reflects my experience of grief and mortality by placing value on an intimate moment of renewal. As part of my recovery from cancer I was taught mindfulness of observation that I now apply to my practice. Drawing plants then re-drawing, translating light into temperature of hue and transcribing further using negative shapes, I have devised a process that joins up many of my past interests. I transform the image with drawing and painterly strategies whereby flatness, shape and colour are prioritised. The aim is to give new life through a subversive representation that emphasises slowness, intimacy and devotion.

- This process uses negative shapes and colour to accentuate absence, giving the work an otherworldly quality. Using a negative figure ground relationship makes the image both absent and present. The representation is both there and not there, this duality hinges on a thinness of presence. Plants are sessile yet they propagate and thrive. When the day to day structures of life fail me, returning my gaze to small pleasures, investing in an intimate moment, shows me that both personal and artistic renewal can be closer to home.


*interviewed by Prudence Gibson in ‘Covert Plants: Vegetal Consciousness and Agency in an Anthropocentric World’ 2018

EDUCATION                                                Seán Cummins

1998-2000       MA FINE ART, Goldsmiths' College, University of London
1998                ABBEY FELLOWSHIP, The British School at Rome
1988-1989       MA FINE ART, Manchester Polytechnic
1978-1981       BA (Hons) FINE ART, Manchester Polytechnic






2020                A CONTROL ROOM ROMANCE, Blyth Gallery, South Kensington, London

2018                WHERE NONE EXISTS, The Attic, Nottingham

2014                THE POTATO EATERS DISCOVER COLD FUSION, Bonington Gallery, Notts

2012                THORESBY THURSDAY, One Thoresby, Nottingham
2004                CLEAVE, The Economist Building, London

1998                CAN YOU READ THIS? British School at Rome, Italy

1995                THE SENTIENT SKIN, Gasworks, London
1993                TRIANGLE AND BEYOND, Arthouse Gallery, London




2019                 DARK CONTROL, The Meter Room, Manchester Contemporary

                        10 YEARS, 1 Thoresby Street, Nottingham

2017                 FULLY AWAKE, House for an Artist, Glasgow

                        NINE PAINTERS, Syson Gallery, Nottingham

                        ‘w: double u’ TAC, Eindhoven, Netherlands

2016                 PARAVENT, Harley Gallery, Notts

2015                 STUDIO, Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, Vermont, USA

2014                 NO FUN II, The Attic, Nottingham

                         NO FUN, Enclave, Deptford, London

2012                 OPEM2, The Collection Museum and Usher Gallery, Lincoln

                         RE-GROUPING, Bend in the River, Gainsborough, Lincs

                         MARBLED REAMS, Modern Institute, Glasgow

2011                 MARBLED REAMS, Limoncello, London
                         PILE, Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff, Wales
2010                 PILE, Surface, Nottingham
                         TAKE HER FARTHER, The Wasp Room, Tether, Nottingham
2008                 DRAWING OUT, Bonington Gallery, Nottingham
2007                 DISTANCE, APT, Deptford, London
2006                 TOMORROW WILL BE THE SAME, Chung-Ang University, South Korea
                         OPEN THE DRAW, Drawing Space, Southwell, Notts.
2005                 FLEAMARKET, Temporary Contemporary, Deptford, London
2004                 WILKOMMEN, Metropole Gallery, Folkestone                         
2003                 TRAMPOLINE, Broadway Cinema screening, Nottingham 2004           
2002                 DEEPER, Rio Cinema screening, London
                         ARCADIA IN THE CITY, Marble Hill House, London
                         DRAIN, Cell Project Space, London
                         THE SHOW, INSA Space, Seoul, S. Korea
2000                  ASSEMBLY, Stepney City, London
                         BLANK CANVAS, Artomatic, London
1999                  RHIZOME, Gallery Kolo, Gdansk, Poland
                         WAR, PostMasters, Chelsea, New York
1998                  CLOSE TO HOME, UFF Gallery, Budapest, Hungary                                  
                         COOKED, Museo Teo, Milan
                         PIEROGI 2000 Flatfiles, Brooklyn, New York.
                         Villa Crispi, Naples, Italy
                         FULL HEAD OF HAIR, Gasworks, London

                         interVIEWS, Studio Gallerie, Budapest, Hungary

1996                  THULPELO, Cape Town, Republic of South Africa
                         SAD, Gasworks, London
                         JOIN THE DOTS, Galerie 5010, Salzberg, Austria
1994                  WHITECHAPEL OPEN, Whitechapel gallery, London
                         LEAD & FOLLOW, Continuity of Abstraction, Atlantis Gallery, London,

                         Bede Gallery, Jarrow and Poole Arts Centre
                         DAD, Gasworks, London