The Keats-Shelley Blog

11 July 2021

The Keats-Shelley Prize Podcast in conversation with Mark Wallinger

The Turner Prize-winning artist discusses John Keats, his love of literature and Writ in Water

In the fourth of our conversations about John Keats’ epitaph (which inspired the theme of 2021’s Keat-Shelley Prizes, Writ in Water), we talk to Turner Prize-winning artist Mark Wallinger about his life, career, experiences of Rome and above all his love of John Keats. Listen to the very end to hear Mark read a poem of his own in the form of a limerick about Masaccio that was written in Rome.

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The inspiration for our conversation was Mark’s monumental 2018 work Writ in Water. Five years in the making, this architectural installation was commemorated the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta, which was signed in Runnymede. Mark describes how the project progressed from idea to reality, and how he took particular inspiration from Keats’ epitaph.

We begin with some general chatter about surviving the last year before Mark discusses the impact that literature in general (including Lord Byron and James Joyce) has had on his work. Turning to Keats, he describes his love of the Odes, how Negative Capability helped him learn patience, and visiting his grave in Rome. Mark also offers advice to young artists, including our own Young Romantics, asks why no one sees UFOs anymore, and considers the portrayal of the art world in movies. Finally, listen until the end to hear Mark talk about Sinema Amnesia, his video installation inspired by Lord Byron swimming the Hellespont, among many other things.

Read more about Mark Wallinger.

Mark Wallinger is one of Britain and indeed the world’s foremost artists. Born in London in 1959, he won the Turner Prize in 2007 for State Britain, and in 1999 became the first artist to exhibit an artwork, Ecce Homo, on the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square. He has represented Britain at the Venice Biennale, was part of the Sensation
exhibition at the Royal Academy, and has shown his work around the world.


Writ in Water

National Trust press release and video

BBC video including aerial film

Article on Situations

Art Fund Blog article

Art Society

Sinema Amnesia

Guardian article about Sinema Amnesia 2010

Video about Sinema Amnesia 2012 in

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This podcast was presented by James Kidd. The KS Podcast theme tune is ‘Androids Always Escape’ by Chris Zabriskie. Visit