My practice encompasses photography, video, installation and performance.

I use photographs of objects and people to question issues of artificiality and idealisation.




Primarily this artwork is self-portraiture, but not in the traditional sense. In

the work I create photographic substitutes. I examine the act of looking and

being looked at, frequently using my own experience of becoming an object of

sight to draw attention to the power relations of exhibitionism and voyeurism.

By presenting myself as an object it could be argued that I reproduce

stereotypical images of the female body, but I hope to confound the hierarchy

of object and subject.



Still Lifes

Still life images are portraits of a type, evoking unseen subjects who possess

and consume the objects on display. Drawing on both definitions of the term ‘consume’ I use food still life photography to represent different characters

and positions in relation to advanced capitalist society. What I eat and how I

eat is a metonym of my wider consumer habits. Food is also employed as a metaphor for the subjection of my body under capitalist systems. The

commodities I consume are integrated in my identity and my identity is shaped

to a marketing demographic. I am what I consume. I am an advertisement for

the commodities I consume.





Contemporary Welsh artists respond to images of women from the University of South Wales Museum Collection.


Exhibition open to the public  9 July – 19 October (Open 9-5 weekdays)

Exhibition launch with catalogue, 28 September


The University of South Wales is pleased to announce its summer exhibition, vis-à-vis, a celebration of the centenary of women’s suffrage. It represents a selection of twenty images of women from its Museum Collection paired with twenty images of women by contemporary artists from Wales. vis-à-vis is understood here as being the consideration of one thing in relation to another, but by lucky chance ‘vis’ also brings to mind its older meaning of face to face and the act of visaging.


Each artist was invited to undertake an email conversation with the exhibition’s curator, Dr Frances Woodley, in which their exhibit was discussed in relation to its pair from the Museum Collection. These conversations have brought a remarkable range of new perspectives to older works of art: feminist, political, historical, cultural, representational and more. At the same time the project has offered contemporary artists an opportunity to reflect on their own practice in relation to a work of art by an artist from the recent past and often unfamiliar to them. It has made for a fascinating set of encounters that are to be included in a substantial catalogue due to be launched 28th September. In the meantime please come and visit the exhibition, it’s an eye-opener, and it’s free.

Oriel y Bont, Ty Crawshay, Treforest Campus, University of South Wales, Pontypridd CF37 1UF

Tel: 03455 760101, email frances.woodley1@southwales.ac.uk



SOLO EXHIBITION: Consumed: Stilled Lives

Blyth Gallery, Imperial College London, 26 Sep-02 Nov 2018.


Private View: Tuesday 2nd October 6-8pm.


A solo exhibition of photography by visiting artist Dawn Woolley featuring new installations made for the exhibition. ‘Consume’ describes the act of eating as well as purchasing a commodity. The still-life table expresses this dual meaning because the objects on display are edible and indicate an individual’s social position through the ability to buy prestigious objects. Artist Dawn Woolley views the still-life table as a portrait of a particular type of consumer. This allows her to view the objects in still-life as an expression of a relation between consumer, commodity, and society. The exhibition encompasses a variety of approaches to the genre to explore the contradictions of capitalism.



GROUP EXHIBITION: Still Life: Things Devouring Time

The Stanley and Audrey Burton Gallery, Parkinson Building, University of Leeds.

21st November 2018 - 23rd March 2019

Private View: 6 - 8pm Tuesday 20th November 2018


A group exhibition exploring consumer culture and social, environmental and sustainability issues relevant today. Bringing together contemporary still life artwork and historic Dutch still life paintings.


Things made from non-biodegradable materials and the human inclination to collect possessions contradict the concept of tempus edax rerum, time as devourer of all things. Still Life: Things Devouring Time focuses on the visual representation of vanitas, symbolic objects that warn against excess and the shortness of time. This exhibition explores how those ideas inform the practice of contemporary artists, working in diverse media, who respond to consumer culture and the social, environmental and sustainability issues it produces today. The evolution and enduring relevance of the genre of still life is highlighted by the variety of contemporary art - photographs and objects by Nicole Keeley, Caroline McCarthy, Simon Ward and Dawn Woolley - displayed alongside historic Dutch still life paintings in this exhibition. It is co-curated by visual artist Dr Dawn Woolley (Research Fellow, Leeds Arts University), whose work explores the social value of objects in still life, from 17th-century Dutch paintings to contemporary advertising, and Dr Katie J T Herrington (Curator, Stanley and Audrey Burton Gallery, University of Leeds), and is generously supported by Leeds Arts University.





INTERVIEW:  Dawn Woolley / The Substitute, April 2017, Interviewed by Anna McNay




Aberrant consumers: Selfies and fat admiration websites








The Relics series was made as the threatening counterpoint to the bright glossy appeal of Lure. Reminiscent of devotional artefacts and ceremonial figures such as totems, votive candles, and janus figures, these relics connote an overvaluation of commodities and the ideological social values disseminated by product packaging. They seem powerful.


Made from different types of packing material, and beginning to show signs of age, these relics are not sacred objects that are preserved for centuries because they are considered to be important, rather they are waste that cannot be destroyed. They suggest the non-biodegradable nature of our consumer society. They simultaneously show themselves as commodities to be worshipped and rubbish to be discarded. Like janus figures they reveal both sides of their nature. They conflate ideas of the sacred and profane.