More Works

‘Public Consultation’ is an ongoing performance project which explores disciplinary care. It brings together research into new prison architecture, socialist leisure spaces and dog training. How we speak to dogs in order to mold them into contemporary society is used as a mode of address for examining the soft community discipline of new prison architecture as it relates to a radical history collective spaces. For this performance the artist engaged in embodied research, working as dog walker under the brand name ‘Shona’s Woofy World’, recording the experience, its social media and interactions with clients. The resultant performance attempts to herd different segments of the audience around the floor in the tone of a dog-trainer, with short interchangable phrases in the form of commands: “tossing chewed-up squeaky toys around while yapping at us to be more civic-minded, engage better with local and national government, but not to show our teeth. It’s a whip-smart takedown of the pseudo-economic jargon that pervades public arts funding.”

It has so far been performed as part of experimental music events at Dissenter Space ‘Voices in Buildings’ reviewed here and Summerhall, Edinburgh.

What does it mean to count words? or to spend the majority of a writing life within small word counts of funding applications?. To live in the speculative framework of life deferred.

The project Talented Grants began with an essay about funding applications within the structure of funding applications. It tracked the changing language of the national funding body Creative Scotland, whilst critiquing the privatisation of public funding of arts in Scotland, trying to undo notions of “no clean money” and pointing to something outside of a general mathematical flattening – the faux transparency of limited transactional desires.

The performance ‘Talented Grants’ ended with an indefinite collective counting exercise. Here the counting of the word count is an abstraction of labour spent.  What then does counting word count together do? At once a nonsense action it was also a liberating, somewhat cathartic exercise. Does it ‘bundle the horror away’,  akin to deaths counted as a statistic, or does it hold to account for the hours of surplus labour we collectively have, marking them, making them ‘count’.

Originally commissioned for Good Work, Bad Money zine edited by Rosie Roberts.


Here to Deliver was performed throughout October and November 2020. This durational performance took the form of a taxi service, where participants were taken on a virtual ride over the phone. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and it’s associated conditions of long postponement and eternal present the artist embarked on a durational performance experiment. Over the course of two months the artist was on-call to perform mimicking the structure of gig economy labour. The performances took place over the phone from within the artist’s car, as she took the participants on a speculative journey through a cancelled festival, mirroring what they might have experienced had the world not shifted as it did. It was a conversation with many ghost ideas; the creative industries, festivals, in-person live events, plentiful gig-work, and being together. The more distant idea of art aligned to the socialist project was used in the form of a grandiose  language within the script—repudiated ideas of art’s revolutionary agency were re-contexualised as an overarching contrast to a bleak artistic landscape.

In total 103 rides for virtual passengers all over the world, connecting live to as far away as Indonesia, Vietnam, and Canada, then phoning participants only streets away in Glasgow. The performance had a script blueprint, weaving together texts; quotes about social realism, writing on marxism and art, gig platform promotional copy and typical ‘taxi driver’ questions.  This could be improvised around depending on the mood or willingness of the passenger to engage the “driver”.

The performance could also be followed through Instagram where every ride is documented.

The 300+ hours of footage from recording each performance through dash-cam were then edited into a film Here to Deliver (2021), which can be viewed below.

A chapter on the performance ‘Here to Deliver: Conversations with the Ghosts of Gig Work’ was published in Performance in a Pandemic (Routledge, 2021)

The work was reviewed by Hussein Mitha, in Nothing Personal Magazine; ‘an expansive consideration of agency and class within Glasgow International through the lens of Shona Macnaughton’s performance Here To Deliver (2020)’.

In 2022 materials from the performance were collected together to form a publication. The book was launched at David Dale Gallery alongside a live performance including 5 of the participants from 2020. Together with the artist they performed a script, edited from their original transcripts. To purchase a copy of the book please email, send your address and make a contribution here of at least £4 (to cover postage costs).



A performance commissioned for 12-Hour Non-State Parade, Cooper Gallery, DJCAD, Dundee, 2019. Images (below) by Sally Jubb @sallyjubbphotography. A video of the performance is available here. A publication is forthcoming including an interview for Platform Journal of Theatre and Performance Royal Holloway University of London.

Angeliki Roussou wrote a review of the Cooper Gallery’s symposium which included these words about Aquatic Needs:

An overall highlight in upholding (art-)institutional care was Shona Macnaughton’s new performance Aquatic Needs. Many, including myself, realised only retrospectively that they were watching a performance as Macnaughton addressed the keynote panel with ‘I can’t think of a question. […] My chest is pounding. I want to speak but there’s a gap between how intelligent I think I am and how intelligent I sound. Can you help me? Can you look after me?’ The focus then shifted to the audience as Macnaughton spoke with assertiveness through a megaphone, instructing willing attendants out of the room and, later, outside. As Macnaughton announced, ‘Talent and genius are uniformly distributed. Opportunity is not. This means that you will have trouble controlling yourselves’, the performance culminated with the artist wetting herself, an act visible to us all and illuminated by a handheld torchlight. A discernible critical layer becomes apparent as the performance circled back to its initial frailty. ⠀

Mandatory Reconsideration is a performance developed from the artist’s experience of participating in a Pecha Kucha. Part artist talk, part pecha kucha, part Ted Talk X, part phone call to the HMRC to dispute a state benefit decision, Mandatory Reconsideration considers art’s relationship to different types of work, through re-positioning the artist figure as over-identifying with their neoliberal nemesis The Creative Entrepreneur.

This was commissioned for the launch of PARSE Journal: Work, Valand Academy, Gothenburg, Sweden and was performed at Skogen in May 2019.

It has since been performed at Eastern Promise festival, Platform, Easterhouse, in October 2019 and for Pre-ramble curated by Jude Browning at David Dale Gallery, Glasgow, February 2020.

We Nurture was a performance and writing commission for Collective, Edinburgh (2018-19). It included a publication available at Collective’s reception and a live performance, performed twice on the 30th of March 2019.

We Nurture is a response to Collective’s redevelopment of the City Observatory and to the changing infrastructure of the organisation. It draws on Collective’s archives, the shifting language used in printed and press materials, and how this relates to NHS literature and advice pamphlets for patients. As Collective prepared to open the Observatory site to the public in 2018, Shona asked ‘how are different bodies cared for in a context heavy with Enlightenment symbolism and the trappings of a neoliberal institution comprised of retail, restaurant, gallery, and tourist destination?’”

We Nurture was developed as part of An Exchange of Method, an exchange taking place concurrently between arts organisations and artists working in ‘caring’ related environments in the cities of Rio de Janeiro and Edinburgh.

For more writing on the project see this review by Gordon Douglas for Map magazine. Photography by Matthew Arthur Williams

This was a performance for the ‘Bodybuilding’ exhibition, Market Gallery, Glasgow, December 2017. The artists were asked to respond to the area local to the gallery, Dennistoun in the east end of the city. This performance was made in response to Graham Square, the site of the former entrance to the agricultural market and labour exchange fairs, which gave way to political organising, now a facade leading to new appartments. The east end of Glasgow has undergone significant regeneration projects in the past decades, the script recited as a speech on this site used some of the language used to promote these regeneration projects, but adapted to the first person and referring to the artist’s heavily pregnant body.

“I was nine months pregnant, there was no getting away from that fact. The performance  had to incorporate this physical reality. As I looked at the the language used in local regeneration schemes their themes of new life at the sake of destruction of the old, seemed to echo the progress of my body at the time. The Baby Box, another state sanctioned scheme, which held items which seemed like a basic list to keep this new life alive, neatly doubled as a podium to (barely) keep my pregnant weight aloft, and allowed my self-turned political speech to be heard over the crowd.”

The work was later acquired by the University of Edinburgh Art Collection. It is currently on show at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in the sixth NOW exhibition

Performance at Market Gallery: Dressed by Soft Play  Photography by Matthew Arthur Williams

Installation view: NOW VI, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art One, October 2019, National Galleries of Scotland. Photography © National Galleries of Scotland.

The script was subsequently recorded which can be listened to here.

Arm’s Length Government Body is a performance which brings art language down to reckon with the most base of communications, that of a parent to their child. Subverting the tradition of Institutional critique in contemporary art into a domestic setting, the film takes place across the different rooms of a bare apartment. Performed to camera the artist speaks to you, the audience, as if you were her child.

This performance was conceived in response to and for Céline as a space, a gallery in a flat in Glasgow and the wider context of an artist run space within a broader arts ecology . The property is owned by Network Rail, an “arm’s length government body” and cannot be owned by the occupants. The performance followed the pattern of a bedtime routine of a child throughout the domestic space of the gallery. The figure of the pre-language child is replaced by a mute audience. The script is made up of collaged fragments from arts organisations’ promotional statements interspersed with encouragements, scoldings and terms of endearment. The script is performed directly to different audience members in a tone and manner of a parent speaking to their child. The title has a double meaning referring both to funded arts spaces and funding bodies and also to the idea of the child as a body being an extension of state apparatus.

This performance was commissioned for The Scottish Endarkenment: Art and Unreason 1945 -Present, Dovecot Studios. It was performed several times during the exhibition and as part of the Edinburgh Festival, running May – August 2016. It was also performed for the Jerwood Staging Series – Blend the Acclaim of your Chant with the Timbrels, curated by George Vasey, London, July 2016. Image credit: Hydar Dewachi

The work investigated how the imaging of the female form in a modernist Scottish novel, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, heavily grounded in an idea of Enlightenment and progressive education, could relate to visions of the female now within contemporary modes of representation, as mediated by computer interfaces and digital materiality.


Co-commission for Talbot Rice Gallery and Edinburgh Art Festival and exhibited as part of the group exhibition Counterpoint at Talbot Rice Gallery 1 August – 18 October 2014.

This video is situated in a digital architectural model of Edinburgh University’s Old College built from the original architect’s plans. The narrative is a re-working of the play ‘The Maids’ by Jean Genet, where the maids are replaced by downloadable 3D files of female models found on the website Turbosquid.comand the setting, instead of a bourgeois 1950s house, is a University classroom. The maids have become ‘philosophical zombies’ and are part of an intellectual experiment by Madame the Professor, played by the artist. In the original play the script follows the maids’ hysterical games when their ‘Madame’ is out of the house. Slipping in and out of character, dressing up in her clothes and playing with her possessions they oscillate between make believe and a dangerous reality, plotting her ultimately impossible murder. The work examines what happens to the 1950s class relation within the play when you replace the human maids with contemporary simulated human digital files. Madame the Professor is more aware of her precarious mortality than her lady of the house predecessor and aims to emulate their conditions herself. They end up both existing between states of materiality and immateriality, where the attempt at her life would kill them all.

The Other Forecast was a project by artists John O’Shea (Manchester) and Ellie Harrison (Glasgow), made in response to the MediaCityUK site at Salford Quays – home to the new BBC and ITV studios. With Richard DeDomenici, Ellie Harrison, Shona Macnaughton, Kim Noble, John O’Shea and Yuri Pattison.

“On Friday 25 October, six artists were invited to MediaCityUK to create their own take on the familiar ‘weather forecast’. Recorded LIVE in front of a greenscreen in one single take, they each explain to camera the interconnectedness of a variety of local and global systems – not just meteorological, but social, political or financial – presenting a different ‘worldview’ from their own personal perspective.”
The videos were also screened on the Big Screen at MediaCityUK.

Opportunity to participate in an artist project  – PAID

Post: Performer of Employment

Department: c/o Collective

One employee has resigned and taken with her an image of the University of Edinburgh. This infinitesimal reflection of the institution is a current representation of what has been instrumental in shaping history for over 400 years.  A new form for education is being constructed from that image.

The former employee, the artist Shona Macnaughton, is the employer for the post advertised. She offers an opportunity to work with primary documentation of the architecture of leading international academics whose visions are shaping tomorrow’s world – a backstage observation of an exciting, vibrant, research led academic community.

As intermediary host for the employer Collective is one of the most ambitious contemporary art spaces in Scotland supporting new work with a strong international reputation and award-winning programme. New Work Scotland Programme is a Collective initiative recognised as giving graduates based in Scotland their first significant visual art project or commission. The employer is a participant in the programme this year, which includes an exhibition in Gallery 1.



4.08mins at £7 p/hr = 48p  The value of this video has been calculated by the amount of art time extracted from waged time.

This video was made in 2010 and has since been exhibited several times including most recently for Never (Off) Work! by Parse Journal, Art and Work edition at Valand Academy, Gothenburg, Sweden and Edinburgh College of Art, Artists and the gig economy conference, Edinburgh (2018)

During the course of employment as a cleaner for a holiday apartment company, I filmed myself while I was working, without permission. At any time there was the risk that my supervisor could have walked in. For each apartment I cleaned I recited the advertising copy from the company’s website which described the apartment I was in. The resulting video documents what and how I was able to film under these conditions.