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 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.
GROUP EXHIBITION: Still Life: Things Devouring Time
The Stanley and Audrey Burton Gallery, Parkinson Building, University of Leeds.
21st November 2018 - 23rd March 2019
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.
PORTFOLIO: Dawn Woolley / Critical Clickbait: Artist Interventions in Commercial Visual Culture, December 2018
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.