Things I have written
A Thing What I Wrote (2020)

A Thing What I Wrote (2020)

The Peter & nou Handbook: A Field Guide to a Speculative Practice (So Far) (2020)

Delivered to the University of Cumbria Research Office in a suitcase at 3.30pm on Thursday 27th February 2020. Then Professor Robert Williams and family took me out for a pint. Now I have no idea what to do with myself…



Oh, the thinking really came together last night…

Carlsberg to blame.

Screen Used Development Notebook

Have I written anything really stupid in here? Let's find out...

Have I written anything intellectually incriminating in here? Let’s find out…


Screen Used Development Notes PDF

The Ugly Construction of Beauty

Here’s a paper that I wrote and delivered (remotely) at:

MOD ART 13 MODERN ART CONFERENCE on Beauty and Ugliness 
25th to 27th November 2013
Istanbul, Turkey

The Ugly Construction of Beauty

Jane Topping, Programme Leader BA (Hons) Fine Art, University of Cumbria, U.K.

Keywords: Fine Art, Gender identity, Performance, Appropriation


In film, a woman’s desire for success is often visually presented via an adherence to structured acts of so-called beautification. These performances, or as Judith Butler would have, ‘acts of the flesh’, often result in frustration, failure and the re-positioning of the female as societally submissive. The gestures which are performed in order to achieve a stereotyped vision of beauty are repetitive, boring and often seemingly painful or destructive to the individual performing them. They may even result in death or in a zombie-like form of living death. In Sunset Boulevard (Wilder, 1950), the character of Norma Desmond is trapped between reality and the myth of her own stardom. She seeks freedom through an elaborate set of rituals, designed to regenerate her youth and with it her fame. These acts, however, are revealed to be narcissistic and ultimately fatal. In Desperately Seeking Susan (Seidelman, 1985), scenes of a domestic feminine identity are used to accentuate the difference between the 2 female protagonists, one a street-wise extrovert, the other a demure housewife. This paper will analyse four of my short films (originally made for the solo exhibition The Women, Patricia Fleming Projects, U.K., 2013) which manipulate found footage in order to reveal the ugliness at the heart of rituals of beautification, both physically and psychologically. Interrogating Butler’s assertion that we are always in drag, my practice operates to place the viewer ‘back stage’, revealing the self-conscious staging of a feminine identity. Dara Birnbaum’s use of repetition as a device to create anxiety is appropriated in the context of my work, to reveal otherwise unnoticed moments of boredom, even death, within the performance of feminine gestures of beauty.

The Women: 8 Films Digital Film 15:27 2013, The Women, Solo exhibition, Patricia Fleming Projects, Glasgow, 2013, Jane Topping.

The Women: 8 Films Digital Film 15:27 2013, The Women, Solo exhibition, Patricia Fleming Projects, Glasgow, 2013. 

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The Luck of Edenhall

My contribution to this group exhibition’s publication, 2014. Curated by Linda Fitzgerald.

Publication Image

Publication Image

In 1989, when we were both 17 and I had learnt to drive, Ross (my best friend and boyfriend) and I took a trip north.

At a seaside village on the west coast of Scotland, we visited a jumble sale in the church hall, at which I failed to buy a copy of the first UK edition of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? for 10 pence. Thinking back to that moment I can remember that I simply couldn’t be bothered carrying it around.

On the same trip, though not the same day, Ross bought a real mole skin from a pile of tiny skins in a box, literally under the counter in a village shop. It looked like a miniature, elegant rug for a dolls’ house.

The Nabokov Paper

Nabokov-cover-222x300My contribution to The Nabokov Paper book, by Kate Briggs and Lucrezia Russo. Published by information as material.  


Give the structural scheme of Bleak House in terms of its main thematic centers and their interconnecting lines.

Outside Bleak House: A Transcript of Sorts

(Red on black) London.

Westminster Bridge, policeman in the fog directing traffic, headlights though fog on a busy road, fog lamp beams, two women hurry arms linked one covers her mouth with her scarf, more headlights on a bus a man walks next to the vehicle he is wearing a uniform, a man with a baton stands in front of a double decker on its way to Kew Green, a mannequin wears a mask above signage which reads BE PREPARED, an etching of an alley, The Houses of Parliament glowing golden, two people walk over that bridge again, on the film set they are using dry ice, through the curtain we can see the distant car, James Fox looks at Sarah Miles’ legs, a tree, a depleted forest, the horizon, he is squinting over your shoulder, an etching of a brothel scene, two cars from the ‘50s, James Fox watches Dirk Bogart as he polishes the circular mirror, The Underground, Elizabeth Stride – victim of the Ripper, Queen Victoria, the foggy road again, Martin Amis is staring at the camera wearing a tartan scarf and a black jacket smoking a cigarette at his most beautiful, the employee guides the bus to Purley, The Sex Pistols (pre-Vicious), a monument I do not recognise (the man on the horse holds something above his head), two men talk in the street, collecting potatoes in a sack, a light bulb above his head Will Self in his studio with those famous Post-it notes, the etching looks like the ghost of a woman, street lights, burned bodies, Ivor Novello stares at the camera his mouth covered by a scarf, a uniformed child holding a teddy bear waves from a boat, Paul Simonon is about to smash his guitar September 21st 1979, a policeman in a mask, seen from above the whole crowd is wearing gas masks, a political meeting, a pig above Battersea Power Station, a woman stares at you from the garden (long dark hair and flowing white dress), a bus stop, Beer Street and Gin Lane, the moldering remains of a monster, fire burns behind the heads of the riot police, David Bowie, a man clings to a pole as the building burns, reflected in the circular mirror he pushes her up against the wall his hand in her hair and his face pressed to her temple, Harrods food court, injured man, Basil Rathbone, the final denouement, underground map, Wendy Craig is Susan, riot police watch a burning building, Jack Goodman is dead, The Fog, a triffid, Charles Dickens, Peeping Tom, The French House, two etched figures, the triffid’s view, the investigators, a burning building, Cillian Murphy in scrubs on a deserted Westminster Bridge, Mary Poppins, unknown female victim, Amy Winehouse, a man has fallen on the escalator, a spade, a bearded man with red glowing eyes, a smashed window, Iolanthe, the man on the escalator is terrified, the bearded man is strangling a woman, the woman presses the door closed against the fog, a woman is about to scream, chased by zombies, in the dream the surviving friend is a vampire.

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