South Kensington Club x Session II: Walter and Zoniel

In the latest in a series of artist talks that has been doing in collaboration with The South Kensington Club Flora Ogilvy, the founder of the digital arts platform discussed the Formationists, being a paid up member of the ‘art world’ and living, breathing and creating as a pair with Walter of Walter and Zoniel.

Currently based in Brighton with Zoniel, Walter is animated, hugely entertaining and an excellent raconteur. Having studied Physics at university and grown up on a poor South London Estate, what I most enjoyed about this talk was Walter’s attitude to ‘The Art World’. For him the ‘crack cocaine of art’ was watching his Jellyfish being admired by the people in the Toxteth area of Liverpool and their interaction with the work. ‘No PR, no social media’ was the mantra for The Physical Possibility of Inspiring Imagination in the Mind of Somebody Living, (2014) a play and critism of ‘the most flat…fucking boring’ work The Physical Impossibility of Death in The Mind of Someone Living, 1991 by Damien Hirst, only on show in a dead world of a white art gallery space to those select enough to understand its complexity.

The Physical Possibility of Inspiring Imagination in the Mind of Somebody Living, (2014

His attitude is one of inclusivity and it is clear to see with this work, which was recreated at Art Basel and in Miami that social inclusion and possibility is hugely important to Walter. Interestingly relevant right now with the Turner Prize 2015 being won by Assemble a London-based collective who work across the fields of art, design and architecture to create projects in tandem with the communities who use and inhabit them. Walter and Zoniels work spans the same socially conscious ideas.

 In this age of endless connectivity via social media though, he is adamant that it is still vital to meet and discuss ideas rather than share them online. Artists worry about sharing then having their ideas stolen. For the movement of the Formationists sharing is central to their manifesto and key to their beliefs that the world is better through discussion and communication: open source art in other words. Formationism is the work being made of itself in short, most easily demonstrated by a photograph of a chair, then mulched up to make the paper the photograph is printed onto.

‘It’s rare to get this kind of budget to be able to put work like this into the poorest areas’ he muses on being asked weather he thinks that Art Fairs and large galleries should have so much influence. ‘Obviously it is a good thing, it would be foolish to say it wasn’t’ the budget enables people to see the work who perhaps might not be able to or wouldn’t think about going. In this respect social media is fantastic. Zoniel is the one much more involved in this element, later Walter says that it is so much easier being two than one and these two do seem to be so ideally suited. Together for 8 years, 9 to 5, 24 hours a day and only apart for about 13 days for all of that, Walter and Zoniel have an exciting year ahead. A collaboration with Somerset House for Photo London and then with the V & A later this year in a bid to create the largest Tintype Camera in the world, ‘satisfying as an Englishman’ he smiles, the record is currently held by the French set in 1910.

Alpha-Ation, Andreas, 2015

Their most lovely project still to come will be sending their work into space. Zoniel has written a poem about the achievements of man and our of our Global community, ‘basically positivity’ rather than the dry Arecibo version sent into space in 1974.  Walter has converted it into morse and with the use of motorway reflective paint and light, it will be sent every night from the middle of the desert into space, ‘Its all about creating wonder or escapism, even for a minute.’


South Kensington Club x Sessions continue, if you are interested in attending one of these free events please get in touch via


Written by Beatrice Hasell-McCosh, Editorial Assistant at