Visiting Artist’s Talk – Paul Harfleet

For this week's Visiting Artist's Talk we welcome Paul Harfleet.

Paul Harfleet describes himself as an ‘accidental activist’ and is an award winning London based interdisciplinary artist. He has exhibited internationally since graduating from an MA in Fine Art at Manchester Metropolitan University in 2004. His work has appeared on film and in multiple publications.

In 2005 Harfleet began The Pansy Project, the artist plants pansies at sites of homophobic and transphobic abuse. The flower is documented and entitled after the abuse then added to his website. The ongoing project reveals a frequent reality of LGBTQ+ experience, which often goes unreported to authorities. This simple action operates as a gesture of quiet resistance. Harfleet has planted more than 300 pansies around the world from London to New York. He wrote and illustrated Pansy Boy, a children’s book that was short-listed for the Polari First Book Prize in 2018. In 2022 The Pansy Project was showcased by Cheddar Gorgeous on Ru Paul’s Drag Race UK, highlighting his work to a new global audience. 

During the pandemic in 2020 Harfleet began Birds Can Fly, a queer exploration of ornithology. This ongoing project is a manifestation of Paul’s life-long love of birds and reflects a resurgence in the cultural appreciation of the natural world, post-pandemic. The artist draws, then ‘gently references’ the birds he’s drawn, using his make-up, styling and prop making skills to echo the plumage and character of the birds he illustrates. Through drawing, research and writing, he intends is to reveal the hidden colonial history of ornithology.

In 2022 Harfleet’s work was featured in ‘nto The Red a book highlighting endangered birds, published by BTO (British Trust for Ornithology). In 2022 he was a winner of the Madame F Queer Art Award at Queer Britain, the UK’s first LGBTQ+ museum and in January 2023 Harfleet featured on BBC2’s Winterwatch.

About the Visiting Artists’ Talks series

The Visiting Artist’s Talk (VAT) series hosts talks by an exciting range of arts practitioners from around the world every Monday afternoon 2–4pm during teaching weeks.

All of our talks are compulsory for our Fine Art students but are also open to anyone else who would like to join us.

For more information, please email Cesar Cornejo.

Directions to Conference Auditorium 2

See the campus map.


Paul Harfleet, ‘Pansy Mouth’. Image courtesy of the artist.