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Dr Jill Gibbon

About Dr Jill Gibbon

Jill Gibbon is a politically engaged artist with research interests in war, art, and aesthetics. She is currently working on a project documenting the secretive world of the international arms trade by drawing undercover in arms fairs. She gets inside these events by masquerading as a client, and then draws the weapons, and rituals of marketing, hospitality, and dress. In this respect, she is interested in bringing art and performance out of galleries into contested political spaces. This builds on her PhD (2008) that explored the radical potential of reportage drawing.

Transforming the art of war - "I want my art to give an insight into arms fairs, where weapons are treated as products." - Dr Jill Gibbon, School of Art, Architecture and Design

Current Teaching

Jill teaches on the BA in Graphic Arts, and supervises PhDs in art practice and theory. She welcomes PhD proposals, particularly in relation to drawing, performance, reportage and politics.

Research Interests

Jill’s research is interdisciplinary relating to art, and the arms trade. She has contributed to the ‘aesthetic turn’ (Bleiker, 2001) in War Studies by drawing the etiquette of the arms trade, showing how weapon sales are legitimised through rituals of business. Her performance as an arms trader provides a metaphor for the masquerade of respectability in the industry, and challenges the implicit positivism of much reportage. She contextualizes this approach by retrieving examples where reportage has been used as a political act, for instance in Dada.

Her work has been exhibited in the UK, US, and is in the permanent collection of the Imperial War Museum, and Bradford Peace Museum. She regularly gives talks about her work, and has been interviewed by the Guardian, BBC World Service, Al Jazeera, and Campaign Against the Arms Trade.

"Working undercover, artist Jill Gibbon sketches images of the surreal behind-the-scenes world of military fairs and expos to highlight how the arms trade treats missiles, tanks and bombs like any other commodity" (Vijaykumar, The Guardian, 2014)

Selected Publications

Journal articles (2)

Books (1)

Chapters (4)

  • Gibbon J (2020) This is Not a Bomb, matériel culture and the arms trade. In: Spaces of War, War of Spaces. : Bloomsbury Academic, pp. 187-204.
    View Repository Record
  • Gibbon J (2015) Hiding in the Light, drawings of the arms trade. In: Sylvester C Masquerades of War. London: Routledge, pp. 190-196.
  • Gibbon J (2015) Hiding in the Light, drawings of arms fairs. In: Sylvester C Masquerades of War. London: Routledge, pp. 190-196.
  • Gibbon J (2010) Dilemmas of Drawing War. In: Experiencing War. : Routledge, pp. 103-117.

Conference contributions (9)

  • Gibbon J (2018) The Etiquette of the Arms Trade Max Planck Institute, Berlin 26/09/2018.
  • Gibbon J; Tom F (2018) This is Not a Bomb; matériel culture and the arms trade Florence 22/05/2018.
  • Gibbon J (2017) Drawing the Panopticon; representation, resistance and surveillance Loughborough 06/04/2017. Loughborough:
  • Gibbon J (2015) Constructing History - Reportage Drawing and Factography Valenciennes, France .
  • Gibbon J (2011) The War Artist as Trickster University of Wroclaw, Poland 26/10/2011.
  • Gibbon J (2011) Witnessing War from New Perspectives University of Gothenburg 14/04/2011.
  • Gibbon J (2010) Radical Reportage University of Brighton 14/09/2010.
  • Gibbon J (2010) The Art of Infiltration Prague 30/04/2010.
  • Gibbon J (2010) Drawing the Arms Trade New Orleans 17/02/2010.

Exhibitions (15)

Lectures (8)

  • Gibbon J (2019) Drawing, performance, and war
  • Gibbon J (2017) Undercover drawings of the arms trade
  • Gibbon J; Southern J (2017) Drawing and the Politics of Seeing
  • Gibbon J (2014) Artist talk
  • Gibbon J (2014) Artist talk
  • Gibbon J (2014) Art and War, Truth, Propaganda, Protest
  • Gibbon J (2014) Artist talk
  • Gibbon J (2014) The Art of the Arms Deal
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