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Considering what it is to grow a shell, Anna Reading’s Brute, the first in a series of presentations at The Shuck, explores defence and aggression as methods for survival within inhospitable worlds.

Reading is drawn towards animals she considers brutes, armoured with encrusted exoskeletons, spikes and teeth. Aggressive self-defenders, survivors and soft bodies.

Exploring the increasing prevalence of the urban animal, Reading chooses fauna that appears familiar, wild and adapted to survival, but which finds itself in the sci-fi future of a brutal urbanism. Taking asphalt and ballast into their shells, these resourceful beasts make use of their surroundings to survive. Seeking refuse in an increasingly militarised setting, they take shelter in a garden shed.

Enamoured with the adaptability of these brutes, Reading considers them to be translators, messengers from a world we are sheltered from.


Anna Reading is a London based visual artist, (born Newcastle Upon Tyne, 1987). Spanning sculpture, performance drawing and text, her work celebrates growth and survival in inhospitable environments. Using modified shell-grotto techniques, she combines materials, such as oyster shells surplus from pearl farming, and lumps of asphalt extracted from road surfaces. The works appear as relics from an unknown future, depicting imagined landscapes and forms of non-human consciousness. Rooted in experiences of human vulnerability and exposure, the works foreground forms of shelter, synthesis and regeneration within the organic world.

Anna is a graduate of Slade School of Fine Art, 2017. She held the Mark Tanner Sculpture Award 2018-2019 and was a Bloomberg New Contemporaries Artist in 2018. She has recently exhibited at Informality Gallery, Bury Art Museum and Sculpture Centre, Contemporary Sculpture Fulmer, NewBridge Projects and Glasgow CCA.


Part residency, part exhibition, part retreat, The Shuck is a new project inviting a series of artists to research and develop a body of work responding to our connection to nature, ecology and sustainability from a suburban garden in Hertfordshire. Throughout the initial twelve planned projects we aim to develop the garden in response to the work produced and in collaboration with the artists involved, reflecting on the themes presented. 


The Shuck projects aim to allow artists to develop work and create meaningful dialogues in a setting separated from traditional art industry structures and, hopefully, free from the associated pressures.


The Shuck is open by invitation or appointment. Contact for further details.

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