John Beagles


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Contemporary Art Practice

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Personal profile


I've worked collaboratively with the artist Graham Ramsay since 1997. Our work has been exhibited internationally at venues including the Venice Biennale, PS1 MoMA, New York, the Migros Museum, Zurich, the New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York, the ICA, London and the Rotterdam International Film Festival.

Catalogue text from Generation 25 years of Scottish Art


"John Beagles and Graham Ramsay have worked together as a collaborative duo since 1996. Their work ranges from sculpture, photography and painting to video and performance. They often use aspects of self-portraiture to delve into a range of contemporary cultural, social and political anxieties, most notably political disenfranchisement, the culture of consumerism and the cult of celebrity. 

They also owe a great deal to older traditions within art, specifically the counter tradition of the carnivalesque – a term used in literature to describe the use of humour and absurdity as a tactic to overturn conventional authority or everyday assumptions. Beagles & Ramsay used this approach to explore issues around consumerism in works such as Burgerheaven (2001) and Good Teeth (2009).

Historical artists, from the painters Brueghel, Tiepolo and Goya, to more acerbic satirists such as Daumier and Hogarth (as well as novelists such as Swift, Rabelais and Chaucer) have also exerted a profound influence. An influential aspect of these artists’ work has been their ability to combine their visual or literary aesthetic with political allegories and satirical content.

We Are The People – Suck on This (2000) is Beagles & Ramsay’s most explicit work on the subject of political disenfranchisement. It features Graham Ramsay in the Robert De Niro role of Travis Bickle from Martin Scorsese’s film Taxi Driver. The video charts Ramsay’s walk through central London, and ends with him handing in a petition to Tony Blair, at 10 Downing Street. The petition reads ‘We Are The People – Suck on This’ and was signed only by the two artists. 

The artists’ presence within their own work is not straightforward. They often use doppelgangers, such as puppets, disguises or assumed identities. These tactics allow them the freedom to explore aspects of contemporary culture, without the restrictions of a singular, authoritative voice. Ventriloquist Dummies Double Self-Portrait (2003) shows the artists as hapless dummies, reflecting their interest in the way we can easily be manipulated. The dummies appear again in the video New Meat (2004), where the sinister dialogue and fragmented soundtrack convey a deep sense of unease."


Education/Academic qualification

Master of Arts, Glasgow School of Art

Award Date: 1 Jan 1996

Bachelor of Fine Art, BA Fine Art (Painting), University of London

Award Date: 1 Jan 1992

External positions

Visual Culture Tutor, Chelsea SChool of Art MFA

1 Sept 20121 Aug 2013

Commissioning Editor, a-n The Artists Information Company

1 Sept 20041 Sept 2006

Visiting Lecturer, Glasgow School of Art

1 Sept 20001 Sept 2007

Committe /Board/ Education officer, Collective Gallery

1 Sept 19961 May 2004

Editorial Consultant, Variant magazine

1 Sept 19961 Sept 2012


  • NB Sculpture
  • ND Painting
  • NE Print media
  • NX Arts in general


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