Self Portrait on a 100yr old camera in Havana

Portrait taken on a 100yr old camera in Havana



Michael Whelan is an artist who’s work is driven by collective behavioural experiences and the expanded impact civilisation and societies have on our planet, and how this now effects our individual behaviour.  Whelan work is process led and uses various media within the relationship boundaries of photography, text and sculpture to communicate ideas and connection between science and art. His work goes beyond the traditional exhibition spaces and extends to public locations, underused sites, socially engaging projects and educational platforms.

Born in 1977, he grew up in rural part of Scotland surrounded by wild landscapes which play a key part in his approach to his work. Whelan moved to London in the 90’s and began an initial career as a cartographer which influenced an awareness of composition, space and scale, which now plays an important part of the approach to his practise where audiences experience a connected sense of belonging within his work. 

Whelan studied Photography and Fine Art, and is known for the way he engages with a subject, his enthusiasm towards image making, and is 'interested in the complex and beautiful relationship with our environment, and how it influences us as a civilisation’. 

Key points in his career have been making a connection between the conceptual topical subjects that appear as abstract subjects, and relating this directly to his work; exploring scale, topographical perspectives and human interaction whilst applied to an aesthetic that has been described as having tranquility and being gently observed.

In 2005, Whelan set up his studio and has been the recipient of several internationally recognised awards, including winning the Fine Art Single category at the NYPH awards, the International Photography Awards, screened work at Cannes Liones, selected for several PX3 Prix de la Photographie awards, and the RA Summer show. His work has been exhibited internationally at The Photographers Gallery, Dumbo New York, Singapore International Photo Festival and the Magenta Foundation in Canada.

Since 2012, he has been creating socially engaging work, lecturing at various Universities in the UK and Norway, and working on several creative projects funded by Arts Council England and Heritage Lottery Fund. He set up the If Not Now project touring the UK working on a series of portraits of elderly public members living in social isolation that followed with a sound and image exhibition that was shown nationally in public spaces, established gallery’s including the National Museum Of Scotland, and the Houses Of Parliament. The work has been attributed to broader and increased political awareness in protecting and supporting people living in isolation. (

He has since started a co-operative project called New Defence, working with a team of artists, designers and curators on a regeneration project using art as a catalyst to raise awareness of an underused coastal defence site on the Thames Estuary The work Whelan made for the exhibition is part of his vision for a large-scale study into Anthropocenic endeavours that underpins his practise.

Whelan lives and works in London

Feel free to get in touch.


Grants & Awards:

2018: Awarded UK Arts Council & Heritage Lottery grant for ‘New Defence’ project

2017: Photo Masters ‘Best In Show’. 

2017: Felix Schoeller Photo Award: Shortlisted

2016: Selected for the Royal Academy Summer Show

2015: Portrait Salon finalist

2015: PX3 Prix De La Photographie Paris ‘Honourable Mention’

2014: Awarded UK Arts Council England funding for a socially engaging project ‘If Not Now’

2014: Awarded Waltham Forest Council Art Grant for ‘If Not Now’ project

2014: PX3 Prix De La Photographie Paris ‘Honourable Mention’

2014: International Photo Awards – One Shot Awards ‘Honourable Mention’

2013: Best Ads on TV: Ad of the week – Anthem World Wide ‘Forever Ink’

2013: The Global Awards: Finalist – Anthem World Wide ‘Forever Ink’

2012: Cannes Liones ‘Higher Pitch’ Winner

2012: International Photo Awards – Fine Art Portrait ‘Honourable Mention’

2011: International Photo Awards - Advertising ‘Honourable Mention’

2011: PX3 Prix de la Photographie Paris Winner - Advertising

2011: Creative Review / Corbis Photography Competition - winner

2011: Lisa Pritchard Association Futures - winner

2010: International Photo Awards - Fine Art Portrait ‘Honourable Mention’

2010: Magenta Foundations Flash Forward 2010 - Winner

2010: Singapore International Photo Festival - Finalist

2009: New York Photo Awards - Fine Art Single Winner

2009: International Photo Awards - Fine Art Highly Recommended award - Ad-Sites series

2009: Association Of Photographers - Assistant Photographer of the Year

2009: BJP Project Assistance Award nominee

2009: The Photographers Gallery FFWE Winner

2008: AOP Assistant Awards - Merit winner (Interiors & Architecture series)

2008: BJP Project Assistance Award Finalist



2018: New Defence at Coalhouse Fort - Curated by Gemma Padley

2018: Four Corners Summer Show 

2018: Camberwell Space - Collaboration with Faisal Abdu’Allah

2017: Shutter Hub Exhibition - Bridewell Theatre

2017: Lubomirov & Angus summer show

2017: Photo Masters - Truman Gallery London

2017: Art Farm Residency Ireland

2016: Trinity Bouy Wharf Residency Exhibition

2016: Royal Academy - RA Summer Show

2015: Talk & Exhibition -  British Society of Gerontology conference, Northumbria University

2015 - 16: St Pauls Cathedral: If Not Now UK series (touring solo exhibition)

2015: National Museum of Scotland – If Not Now UK series (touring solo exhibition)

2014: House of Commons - December If Not Now UK series (touring solo exhibition)

2012: Cannes Liones festival (Higher Pitch group show)

2012: Cristal Festival, Switzerland

2011: PX3 Prix de la Photographie Paris

2011: LPA Futures, London

2011: Flash Forward Photo Festival, Boston, USA

2010: Magenta Foundations Flash Forward, Toronto

2010: Singapore International Photo Festival, Singapore

2010: NYPH Awards - New York

2009: The Photographers Gallery (FFWE)

2009: AOP Assistant awards

2009: PIN @ Four Corners Gallery

2009: Brighton Photo Fringe

2008: AOP Red Dot competition

2008: Photo-Open – Dray Walk Gallery

2008: AOP Assistant Awards

2008: Nearly Nothing – Group Exhibition at Viewfinder Gallery