Mark Fairnington at Ushaw Historic House, Chapels and Gardens


Project Info


  • Mark Fairnington

Painter Mark Fairnington, known for his exquisitely detailed paintings of human and natural history curated an exhibition for Ushaw Historic House, a former Catholic Seminary near Durham City.

Alongside some of Fairnington’s paintings from natural history and museum collections are the relics from Ushaw’s own holdings.

“Running through the show is the concept of a representation as evidence, of something seen, witnessed or recorded. The representation presents itself as a truth however believable or unbelievable the thing represented is.” – Mark Fairnington 

RELICS was show at Ushaw from 12 September 2020 – January 2021.

Arts&Heritage was a curatorial advisor to the Ushaw contemporary programme.

Ushaw College, near Durham, was founded in 1808 by scholars from the English College at Douai, who had fled France after the French Revolution. It traces its origins to Cardinal Allen’s Douai Seminary in the Spanish Netherlands in 1568. Formerly the largest Roman Catholic seminary in the north of England, by 2011 falling student numbers and rising costs forced the College’s closure. It remained derelict for some years, but in 2015 it reopened as a visitor attraction.

The Artist

Mark Fairnington is Reader in Painting at Wimbledon College of Arts. His work has resulted principally from research projects with museums and museum collections, sustaining a visual examination of the idea and image of the specimen. Mark has worked with the Imperial War Museum, the Oxford Museum of Natural History, the Natural History Museum, the Horniman Museum and the Wellcome Collection.