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Sculpture (MA)

Nicholas McArthur

Nicholas McArthur is a visual artist based in London, and Sofia, Bulgaria.

Originally from a 2D painting background, McArthur has worked extensively with video and installation whilst at the RCA. Having professional experience as an educator and costume and makeup designer also continues to inform his work.

Since graduating from Central St Martins (UAL ) with a First Class Hons degree, McArthur’s work has been shown at galleries and festivals in the UK and abroad. 

McArthur has received acclaim in reviews in Art Monthly, The Guardian, Radio Cardiff, and Nottingham Visual Art and was celebrated in an essay by Jamie Sutcliffe for Open File at the Outpost Gallery.

Nicholas McArthur received funding for his MA from the Oppenheim John Downes Memorial Trust.

man in dolphin costume walking past graffiti

From the murky byways of downtrodden high streets to rubbish-strewn wastelands, Nicholas McArthur's work has led him to seek deliverance in seemingly adverse environments.

His practice brings together a variety of elements: atmospheric lighting and sound, costumes and homemade props, and salvaged materials. These elements combine to create performances, videos, and installations. 

Disguised in drab clothing, McArthur takes to the streets to become his characters. These people are often lost or searching for something. Staggering past unsuspecting shoppers or fleeing from stray dogs the films are firmly rooted in the present moment. The character's solitary quests are accompanied by a sense of unease and uncertainty, that seems to respond directly to the urban environment they inhabit.

The films are reminiscent of the kind of oddball creations you find on YouTube. Low, amateur-like production values help to qualify the sincerity and fragility of Mcarthur’s performances. Moreover, as with Ishmael in Moby Dick or Jonathan Harker in Stoker’s Dracula, McArthur is proposing his films as real artefacts, as if they had been made by one of his characters.

Similarly, McArthur's installations are also distinctively homemade, Worn furniture threadbare rugs and reclaimed materials help bridge a connection with the films, locating these physical elements in the same quotidian world depicted on the screen.


This Concrete is Rotten is exhibited as part of RCA degree show at the Truman Brewery.

Shot on an iPad, This Concrete is Rotten is a two-part film and accompanying installation. The films follow a solitary character (played by the artist) on a hectic journey through a city.

Disoriented and confused, he appears to be fleeing from someone or something. As he runs, crawls, and stumbles over the dispirited cityscape, he sinks into a chaos in which the borders between the real and imagined start to crumble.

In the second film, the delusions of the character spill over into the physical world in the form of a giant wall monster. This strange entity offers a cryptic solution to the character's dilemma. Finally, in an effort to make sense of his situation, the character sings to camera in a scene reminiscent of a Disney musical.

The accompanying installation offers further context to the work. Wonky PVC panels and the misshapen papier mâché head look provisional and homemade as if it might have been created by the character whilst ugly salvaged furniture and cartoon rugs help pull the viewer into the world of the films.

Viewers of this piece are invited to sit and watch the first part of the film on one side of the installation before moving to the adjacent side to watch part 2. 

This Concrete is Rotten: Part 1
This Concrete is Rotten: part 2
an installation with two screen and a giant face coming out of the wall
side view of installation
paper mache sculpture of a large head coming out of the wall
close up of one of the screens
close up of a ugly dinning chair on a rug with a cartoon design


Installation/ video


400cm x 175cm x 280cm


In The Breathing Machine, (2022) an oddball inventor demonstrates his creation, a machine with lungs that can breathe mounted upon a child's pushchair the contraption seems to transform the possibly noxious air into a cacophony of sonic howls. Wearing his tech, he attempts to navigate this strange sound with his movements and gestures. 

The film is exhibited alongside the device.

The breathing machine film and installation in a gallery space.
Machine with lungs made from junk
Machine with lungs made from junk
costume from the film
part of the machine


'Turning into the City' is a video monologue. Through fractured sentences, the speaker reflects on the experience of inhabiting the city. from their words, we gain a sense of the character's oblique preoccupation with the metropolis. His tone is introspective and intense as he speaks confidentially to the camera.  The accompanying sound for this piece mixes ambient city noise and electronic music, which adds to the immersive quality of the monologue. 



This two-part film features a lone character who leads the viewer on a journey through the wastelands of the city. Using a strange, homemade device similar to a metal detector, he can tune into the voices of the trash. It seems that the frequency of this instrument is important, as the man is occupied with adjusting and twiddling his machine as it issues a range of sonic howls.

Moving through brownfield sites, industrial complexes, and domestic fly-tips, we meet a variety of odd-ball objects that, by way of the device, spill their stories.

In part two, a giant elephant teddy tells us of its feelings of abandonment upon losing Dad, a rain-soaked jacket speaks about its own incomprehensible disappearance in KFC, and a mobile phone laments the day "the man took me". These stories combine to create a fractured narrative or poem that speaks to the fate of all things thrown in the bin.

The two films employ stylistic approaches reminiscent of the kind of do-it-yourself, homespun videos you find on YouTube. The character speaks directly to the camera. He is not being filmed but rather films himself, switching between tripod and handheld shots, often walking indirectly after pressing 'record'.

man sanding in front of a shop holding a homemade device similar to a metal detector
Don't Bury My Heart Here: Part 1


Nicholas McArthur's 2D works adopt a similarly unstudied provisional approach to that of his installation and video pieces. The drawings displayed here relate specifically to his film work. They are both a form of preparation as well as being artworks in their own right. McArthur's drawings are characterised by their loose, gestural quality and their use of bold, graphic lines. They offer a glimpse into the artist's process and provide insight into the development of his larger-scale projects. 

drawing of a man holding a mask
drawing of a man with a penis gun
drawing of a big head and a man with a gun
drawing of a bald man breathing in smoke
drawing of the breathing machine

Oppenheim John Downes Memorial Trust.