British artist, born in Pembury, Kent. He studied at Canterbury College of Art, 1985–6, and Goldsmiths College, 1986–9, where he became friends with Damien Hirst and Sarah Lucas and took part in Hirst's ‘Freeze’ exhibition. His work tended to be less brash and rather more cerebral than that of his colleagues and as a result was sometimes overlooked. (He was not included in the ‘Sensation’ exhibition of 1997.) Gallery Connections (1991–6, Tate) is a series of audio tapes produced by the simple expedient of phoning various galleries, putting the hand sets together and withdrawing and recording the resulting confused conversations. On one level this can be interpreted as a satire on the inward-looking nature of the art world. The fascination of the work goes further as people who all know each other find their customary relationships made strange and unsettling. Fairhurst made a number of sculptures of gorillas which were included in ‘In-da-Gadda-da-Vida’, an exhibition held at Tate Britain in 2004 with Hirst and Lucas. A Couple of Differences Between Thinking and Feeling (2002) had the gorilla contemplating his severed arm. Richard Dorment has interpreted this piece as saying that ‘we become conscious of who we are only when we realise we are not complete, when our brain can imagine its own limitations.’ Fairhurst committed suicide. He was found hanged in Argyll the day his final solo exhibition closed.
From A Dictionary of Modern and Contemporary Art in Oxford Reference.