publications   Sally O'Reilly PUBLICATIONS





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Collaborative Projects



Help in Cucumbers
A novella
JOAN publishing, 2023

Part collective memoir, part fictionalised survey of art made in the workplace, Help in Cucumbers is set in the London pub I worked in throughout the 1990s.

There were artworks in your face, in the till and at the back of your mind. They were stepped over and veered around, ignored and delighted in, carried about in pockets and under tongues, releasing their minor potency slowly or fizzing up sharply before disappearing. Art was made from leftovers and undercurrents, influxes and overflows; it was functional like the dishwasher and as extravagant as drunkenness. Beer poured from work, and work from beer, and art from beer and work, and work from art, and thought from talk, and talk from thought or beer. Artwork and beerart were indiscernible from celebrations, intermingled with popular secrets; all around was a showy volley of private magics.

Order the book (and a tea towel!) from JOAN.


The Ambivalents
Published by Cabinet Books as part of the 24-Hour Book Series
July 2017

The Ambivalents
was created and designed in one twenty-four-hour period. For this exercise in authorial constraint, O'Reilly was asked to consider a found document revealed to her a day in advance - the 1986 catalogue for Braintree Scientific, an American company that manufactures lab products used in experiments on rats and mice. The result was dozens of letters to the company from a range of characters, including an artist, a literary critic, a dissatisfied customer, several schoolchildren and a man who, like the animals featured in the catalogue, is perhaps close to death.

Image: a collage of photographs of rats' eyes, made at approximately 3am.

For more information about The Ambivalents and its sister book - Take Care by Jeff Dolven, which was written concurrently, and from the same prompt - as well as a PDF of the catalogue that provided the prompt, visit the Cabinet website, here.

A novel, published by Eros Press, October 2016.


In a country called Academia, art critic Ida O'Dewey is at the top of her game –
until she misjudges the limit between satire and irresponsibility, live on radio.
She must retrieve her public reputation and avoid professional extinction,
but sources of power and methods of persuasion are never clear-cut.
An enigmatic group of radical sensualists, with an occult attraction to a glossy
black substance and a deep contempt for mainstream conceptualism,
present a possible way out. This stuff called 'oil', Ida intuits, could be the
perfect subject for a block-busting thesis.

Crude relates the non-sequiturs and irrational connections that make up
a complex society, where even the most specialised and experienced cannot
profess to be in control of their immediate future.

Read the prologue and first chapter of Crude.

Cover image:
Brian Griffiths, some basic treatment, 2016

The research and writing of Crude was supported by a Joanna Drew Travel Bursary and a Paddy and Joan Leigh-Fermor Arts Award.

Crude is available to buy here.

      The Virtues of Things
Henry Moore Institute: Essays on Sculpture

Henry Moore Journal

Issue 75 of the Henry Moore Institute's Essays on Sculpture series is dedicated to the opera,
The Virtues of Things
, a collaboration between Sally O'Reilly and composer Matt Rogers.
The publication features the full libretto, images of the production and a roundtable discussion
exploring sculptural thinking, where O'Reilly and Rogers were joined by Professor Matthew Fox
(University of Glasgow), Lisa Le Feuvre (Henry Moore Institute) and Dominic Gray (Opera North).

Order a copy here.
      Mark Wallinger
Tate Publishing


      The Body in Contemporary Art
Thames & Hudson

The Body in Contemporary Art

Co-edited with Cathy Haynes


Implicasphere is a mini-publication that seeks to unearth and revive compelling, illuminating and curious ideas in the form of image and text fragments taken unadulterated from fields as diverse as folk craft, nuclear physics, metaphysical poetry, pulp novels, linguistics, criminology, film noir and astrology. Each issue takes the form of a single printed broadsheet and has as its theme an everyday word that seems direct and concrete.

Eight issues were produced 2003-8 on the themes of String, Mice, Folly, The Nose, Salt & Pepper, Stripes, The Onion and Smoke. The final five issues were distributed in Cabinet magazine