Pale Ground – Jo McGonigal

Pale Ground is an exhibition of new work by Jo McGonigal at Studio2 in Todmorden, with accompanying text by Tim Ingold.

In Jo McGonigal’s Pale Ground — the outcome of a month-long residency — we are invited to move beyond painting’s traditional parameters and to consider painting as a dialogue with a physical space or site.

Working across painting, architecture, natural science, philosophy and geology, this project combines both poetic and physical responses to the architectural geography of the site of Robinwood Mill, Todmorden — an early nineteenth-century cotton-spinning mill nested in a steep-sided ravine of the Upper Calder Valley.

The local material gritstone, widely used for building in the Pennine region, is a product of momentous geographical shifts; laid down in tidal environments around 350 million years ago when the carboniferous forests flourished.

Pale Ground exposes how these deep time activities are morphed within the surrounding landscape, and the materialities of the exhibition building. Jo McGonigal aims to generate sensations that connect multiple generations of everyday human life with the incomprehensible deep time of the earth by the binding together of materials hidden within its architecture. 

The exhibition consolidates diverging strands of research enabled during the pandemic which led McGonigal to the writings of social anthropologist Tim Ingold (CBE), who has responded to these exciting new developments with a new piece of writing: Painting the Ground, August 2023. The exhibition also includes text by Kelly Loughlin.

Pale Ground is supported by the University of Leeds.

About Jo McGonigal

Jo McGonigal is an artist and Fine Art lecturer in the School of Fine Art, History of Art & Cultural Studies at the University of Leeds. McGonigal’s practice is in painting as a post-medium practice and its intersection with architecture.

McGonigal has gallery representation with Patricia Fleming Gallery, Glasgow, curator of Real Painting: Castlefield Gallery; Eccentric Geometric: Arthouse1 and has participated in numerous exhibitions including: Blinder, Patricia Fleming Projects Glasgow, 2019; Contemporary British Painting 2019; Hard Painting, Phoenix Gallery Brighton 2020; Come and Go. Halt Extreme Left, Winchester Art Gallery, 2019.

McGonigal is also part of the London based art collective, Outside Architecture

About Tim Ingold

Tim Ingold CBE FBA FRSE is a British anthropologist and emeritus professor at the University of Aberdeen.

About Kelly Loughlin 

Kelly Loughlin is an artist, writer and curator based in Todmorden.


Robinwood Mill
Burnley Road
OL14 8JA

Opening times

Open Saturdays, 12-5pm, from 30 September to 28 October (or by appointment)

Preview: Saturday 30 September, 2–7pm


Rock End Moor Quarry, Todmorden. Photo by Jo McGonigal.