Derek Eland

Derek Eland’s work examines the human condition and what it is like to ‘be human’ particularly in stressful and challenging situations.  His work creates a narrative dialogue using images, text and objects and seeks to challenge the perceptions of viewers in relation to preconceived ideas about issues and places.

He is interested in the use of the written word, particularly in a digital age, to access real emotions and thoughts.  Much of his work is created on location through the use of his ‘Diary Rooms’ approach, and then re-contextualised in a gallery setting.

Derek Eland has a Degree in Politics from Durham University and a Masters Degree in Contemporary Fine Art from the University of Cumbria.  Residencies have included Afghanistan 2011, Bournemouth University 2013, Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art 2015, Everest Base Camp 2016.  His work has been shortlisted for the International Celeste Art prize in 2007 and the Salon Art Prize in 2012 and the Museums and Heritage Awards for Excellence 2014.

The artist's work has been published internationally, including by: The Observer Magazine, frieze Magazine, The Independent, WYNC/New York Times, The Explorers Journal, BBC, CNN and the Huffington Post.  His books: ‘Diary Rooms – being human on the front line in Afghanistan was published in 2014 and ’Artist on Everest - Being Human at Base Camp' in 2016.  He is a regular speaker at arts conferences and events in the UK and overseas, such as the International Alzheimer’s Conference, Malta 2013, Open City Docs Fest, London 2014, Grassington Arts Festival 2016, Mountainfilm Festival, Colorado 2016, Diaryfest, Somerset House, London 2016.

Selected Diary Rooms Exhibitions

‘Being Human at Everest Base Camp’, Gallery 81435, Telluride, Colorado, 2017

‘Being Human at Everest Base Camp’, The Gallery at Rheged, 2017

'Below the Clouds', Coombe Gallery, Devon, 2017

‘Dear Diary’, Inigo Wing, Somerset House, London, 2017

'Diary Rooms', Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art (mima), 2014-2015

The Wind Tunnels Project, Farnborough, 2014

'(Don't) Mention Dementia', Malta, Birmingham, Glasgow, Bournemouth, 2013

'In Our Own Words', Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum, Bournemouth. 2013

'(B)orders, Orders, (Dis)orders)', Dna Projects Gallery, Sidney, Australia, 2013

'In Our Own Words', Imperial War Museum North, Manchester, 2011-2012

'Sedition', Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery, Carlisle 2010

Get in Touch


Diary Rooms is an internationally recognised approach to understanding what it means to ‘be human’.  It was established in 2009 by the British artist Derek Eland and involves engaging with people to collect human stories, both handwritten and digital, in relation to specific issues and places.

These stories are collected using site-specific Diary Room installations, which empower participants and help give people a voice.  The human stories are then published globally through digital media, exhibitions and publications to challenge and change perceptions about what it’s like to ‘be human’.

Diary Rooms has been used to engage with people in a range of challenging and sometimes difficult situations globally, including at Everest Base Camp in 2016, on the front line in Afghanistan in 2011, working with people with dementia and the Alzheimer’s Society in 2013-2104 and with people flooded out of their homes in the UK in 2010.

Diary Rooms has been covered by the press internationally, including The Observer, BBC, CNN, The Huffington Post and WYNC/New York Times and has been described as ‘groundbreaking’ by The Independent. Diary Rooms is a UK registered trade mark.

Diary Rooms have been supported by

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