Simon Faithfull was the first visual artist to receive an Arts Council England Fellowship to travel to Antarctica with the British Antarctic Survey. The journey began in November 2004 and lasted for two months. During this journey, Faithfull made daily drawings on a PalmPilot recording the daily events and sights of a journey ever further south. As with other drawing projects, these sketches were then relayed back to the world via email. In this case 3,000 people around the world received a live drawn message from the end of the world.
Simon Faithfull’s practice often involves elements of failure and anti-heroism. His works revolve around research and experiments, and over the past few years he has become known for his 'Lecture Performances', which often accompany his exhibitions. He is cited as trying to measure the world in order to check whether it exists and whether, when absent, he also still exists.
Journeys and traveling are central to his practice, whether it involves traveling to the end of the world, to outer space, or taking a simple bike ride. They offer crucial material for Faithfull. He is influenced by Robert Smithson and Richard Long, among others.
In 2006, Simon Faithfull released LOST (as part of a Whitstable Biennale 2006 commission), a book that catalogues the objects lost by the artist during the course of his lifetime, alongside the stories that accompany these losses. 500 of the books were left around Whitstable as part of an ongoing web project, as their finders are encouraged to record their discoveries before re-releasing them back into the world.
In a series of experiments conducted over ten years (1995–2005), Faithfull sought to defy gravity with his ‘Escape vehicles’. Seven in total to date, these Escape Vehicles range from the use of balloons, chairs, insects, and rockets. Escape Vehicle no.6 saw a domestic chair travel from the earth to the edge of space. An audience first witnessed the chair, tethered beneath a weather balloon, disappear into the sky and then watched a live video transmission from the vehicle showing the chair reaching an altitude of 30 km high. Seen against the blackness of space and the curvature of the earth the chair finally broke up at the edge of space.
Since 2003, Faithfull has lectured at the Slade School of Fine Art.
Simon Faithfull is represented by Parker’s Box, New York, and Galerie Polaris, Paris. He is also an ArtSway Associate.