JM Barrie, My Lady Nicotine, a study in Smoke, Illustrated by MB Prendergast, 1890.


Anon., onion pot, private collection.

Beards: Winner of the freestyle category of the 2006 International German Beard Championships Master hairdresser Elmar Weisser. Anon., ‘Battle of the Facial Hair’, Spiegel Online, 1 May 2006,

Events & Exhibitions

5 October - 14 December 2008
Pump House Gallery, London
Smoke has plumed and swirled about us since history began. Not so long ago it reached a suffocating density when smoke gushed from mighty industrial plants like Battersea Power Station in a London that was dubbed ‘The Big Smoke’. But in our age of smokeless fuels and smoking bans, smoke seems to be vanishing from our fireplaces and fingertips. While it is rapidly increasing in other parts of the world, in London soon there may be nothing left but its symbolic quality. Smoke is going up in smoke; it is becoming its own metaphor. This exhibition marks its presence as it starts to disappear.

The exhibition ‘Smoke’ comprises a curious collection of material, such as museological artefacts, contemporary artworks, archive films, ephemera and everyday objects. It presents a cacophony of objects, images, texts and sounds, and spills out of the gallery with a series of performances, talks, workshops and screenings by a range of specialists, commentators and performers.

The exhibition includes works by contemporary artists, a monumental tapestry by Pae White; Hayley Newman’s Volcano Lady, who sports a dress that issues larval puffs; Simon Patterson’s performance, Landskip, with coloured smoke in Battersea Park; Germaine Koh’s installation that converts Pump House Gallery’s computer activity into Morse code spurts of smoke; an experimental film by John Smith; and Henry Krokatsis’ delicate fumage drawings.

These are placed alongside NASA’s Aerogel or ‘solid smoke’, an ethnographic pipe collection, a 19th century Smoke Enema Resuscitator kit, chronophotographer Étienne-Jules Marey's photographs of smoke trails, a 17thcentury wood engraving of a smoking Sir Walter Raleigh being doused by a servant who thinks he's on fire, magicians’ smoke-trick paraphernalia, an authentically blackened brick from the Black Country, dried Smoketree bows, examples of smokeless fuel, extracts from films such as Kate Bush’s smoke-swathed performance of ‘Wuthering Heights’, a 1935 documentary on skywriting, and a library of books and pamphlets on all things smoky.

Kindly supported by Arts Council England, Henry Moore Foundation, Arts about Wandsworth and Haunch of Venision. In-kind support from Farrow & Ball and MAC Cosmetics.

Exhibition Events

Simon Patterson, Landskip
5 October 2008
The exhibition launch is marked by a public performance in Battersea Park of Simon Patterson’s Landskip. First presented at Compton Verney in 2000, the installation brings a pastoral painterliness to Second World War camouflage testing. Military smokes (smoke-making devices) are installed by Patterson and timed to emit plumes of coloured smoke that unfurl ribbons of green, blue, red, violet, yellow and orange into the landscape.

Smoke Fayre
8 November 2008
Pump House Gallery, London
A day of smoke-themed workshops, demonstrations and displays exploring the many forms, functions and facets of smoke. With food smoking demonstrations, tips on smouldering looks from MAC cosmetics, textile artists spinning clouds of smoke from the hair of Smoky Angora rabbits, ride on a miniature steam train, explore a fire engine and a magician astounding visitors by making objects vanish in a puff of smoke.

Smoke Gig
6 - 7 February 2009
ICA, London
Pump House Gallery and Implicasphere present a unique happening around the theme of smoke, with live bands, DJs, esoteric smoky film projections, smoked cheese and, of course, plenty of billowing smoke machines. There were epic sonic and visual spectaculars from one of the hottest bands of the moment - Chrome Hoof - a 12+ piece glam clad death disco outfit as well as psychedelic compositions by the genius of Guapo. Among those spinning smoke infused records was DJ/Producer Andrew Weatherall and Nick Stroud from JazznotJazz.

Trailing Smoke
12 November 2008
The Art Workers Guild, London
What is smoke exactly? Taking place in the splendorous setting of The Art Workers Guild, Implicasphere invited a range of specialists to try to pin down smoke as it is manifest in fields as diverse as literary history of smog and cutting-edge space technology.

Professor Mark Burchell talked about NASA's Aerogel, colloquially known as 'solid smoke', which, comprising of 99.9% air, is the lightest know substance.

Professor Steven Connor discussed the history of smoke as insidious threat, from its magical and symbolic qualities to its psychological and physiological effects.

Doctor Mervyn Heard explored the history and ancient art of conjuring images on smoke - a technique widely practiced by fraudulent ghost raisers in the 18th century - and offers some useful tips for the modern practitioner

Netting Smoke with Implicasphere
Thursday 16 August 2007
Cornerhouse, 70 Oxford Street, Manchester M1.
For tickets and information, visit or phone +44 (0)161 200 1500.
Implicasphere's co-editors ask specialist speakers and the audience to help chase all things smoky from the collective mental thicket into Implicasphere’s nets for a new issue of the publication. Pre-recorded readings and interviews with a Soho jazz raconteur and a celebrity chef, interspersed with film footage, anecdotes, cultural arcania, Foley art and lives sets by The Montgolfier Brothers and magician Bobby Reader, will provide smoky insights. Come along with images, texts, ideas for leads or simply vague thoughts on the theme of smoke to add to the possible content.
This event is produced by Implicasphere as guests of artist-in-residence David Blandy.

Peeling onions with Implicasphere
Monday 11 June 2007
Photographers' Gallery, London
Implicasphere's editors invite specialist speakers Gerry Gilmore, Alexandra Neel and Ian Saville to give onion-oriented insights from the fields of cosmology, literature and magic.
The audience, too, is invited to bring along images, texts, ideas for leads or simply vague thoughts for the content of a forthcoming edition of Implicasphere on the theme of The Onion.
The editors of Implicasphere, Cathy Haynes and Sally O'Reilly, will chair and introduce the event with a glimpse at some overlooked alliums in film, literature and music to stir our collective pot of memory and association. The talk will be followed by audience drinks.
This event is part of the Gallery's public programmes for the Joachim Schmid exhibition.

Gerry Gilmore is an international authority on the Milky Way galaxy: he was the first person to weigh the Milky Way and discovered its Thick Disk. He is Professor of Experimental Philosophy and Deputy Director, Institute of Astronomy, Cambridge University. His research involves weighing the invisible, attempting to find the true nature of reality. For this event he will explore onions in cosmology.
Alexandra Neel is a literary scholar completing her PhD at Princeton University on literary and photographic explorations of Antarctica. She joins the Department of English at the University of Oregon in September. She will elaborate on James Joyce's theory of the world as an onion.
Ian Saville has been performing Socialist Magic for the past twenty-five years on picket lines and at comedy clubs, festivals and theatres all over the world. He is the award-winning author of the first full-length socialist magic show Brecht on Magic. Classics from his act include 'The Class Struggle Rope Trick' and 'The vanishing of the military-industrial complex'. Tonight he will attempt to combine materialism and idealism by interrogating his soul – in the form of an onion. (

Implicasphere: an itinerary of meandering thought, from beards to...
Thursday 24 May 2007
Serpentine Gallery, London
For information visit or phone +44 (0)20 7402 6075.
Come and collaborate with the editors of Implicasphere, Cathy Haynes and Sally O'Reilly, to sketch an associative string of ideas, from the rare and beautiful to the horrifying and funny, starting with beards and leading who knows where...
This is an informal lunchtime project presented as part of the Gallery's public programmes for its Paul Chan show.