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Artists CV    artwork
Zachary Peirce

"...has an architectonic splendour crossed with a mood of decay and threat."
Financial Times

I completed a BA Fine Art (Hons) degree at Middlesex University in 1996. My work during the degree was a mixture of painting and video. After my degree I travelled, living in Sydney for six months and Los Angeles for four years, where I worked in film post production picture and sound editing departments.

I returned to the UK in 2002, always hoping to paint again, and in 2005 I started taking time out from my job to paint at the Cyprus College of Art, a simple and inspiring place to make art. This led to the recognition that painting was something I wanted to seriously pursue and needed to do full time and I have rented a studio space now since 2007.

I had a painting accepted for last year's Threadneedle Prize. I also recently had a painting shown as part of a Royal Birmingham Society of Artists' Portraits Exhibition and have been shortlisted for the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition.


I was born in 1974 and raised in London. I’ve been interested in painting and drawing since childhood, and grew up in an environment where artistic activities were encouraged. My father and two uncles were professional photographers and my grandfather was Waldo Peirce, a well known American painter whose work has featured in collections such as the Metropolitan’s in New York. I grew up with paintings around and an early impression of art as a profession.


I have now made over 30 paintings relating to the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster and its ongoing aftermath, which attempt to convey something of the atmosphere of decay, abnormality and threat that exists in the 30 kilometre exclusion zone that was created around the destroyed reactor. I find many elements of this subject compelling:

- the idea of a threat (radiation) that is completely undetectable to our natural senses.
- the ultimate ghost town, Pripyat: a town of 50,000 quickly evacuated and never to be inhabited again.
- the natural decay of things: nature reclaiming the buildings, a region returning to an era before humans.
- the paradoxical beauty of a region so infamous but which also became Europe’s largest wildlife preserve, radioactive and altered, but surviving.
- the buildings standing as a memory of life in the Soviet era, a Pompeii for the nuclear age.
- the zone standing as a warning of the dangers of nuclear power as governments and assorted business sectors try to push through a new generation of reactors.
- the danger that is still present: almost all of the dangerous nuclear material is still inside the current aging sarcophagus, hastily built after the disaster and already past its intended 20 year life span.

I visited the Exclusion Zone in October 2009, an unnerving experience, and one which will certainly be the source for future work. I also filmed extensively when there and intend to spend time working this footage into a video piece to exhibit alongside my paintings.

Other recent subjects of interest include work arising from a visit to a former Stasi prison complex in Berlin, my stay in Kiev and explorations of the housing projects there; also the idea of underwater/drowning as a poetic image.

I am also interested in portraiture. I find the human face, which we are hard wired to decipher so easily, an exciting source for abstractions in painting, particularly when developed in terms of an interesting subject or situation.


Education: BA Fine Art Degree
Middlesex University

Art Foundation
Middlesex University

Awards / Exhibitions:
2009: Threadneedle Prize Exhibition, Mall Galleries
ACAVA Open Studios

2008: Shortlisted for Royal Academy Summer Exhibition
Royal Birmingham Society of Artists Portrait Exhibition
ACAVA Open Studios

2007: ACAVA Open Studios

2006: CCA Gallery, Cyprus

1996: BA Fine Art Degree Show, Middlesex University

By The Way, Masaryk University, 2009