Hold the Space, 2024

Alison J Carr, Paula Chambers, Marika Grasso, Elizabeth Orcutt, Ellen Sampson, Dawn Woolley, Zara Worth

Brown Street Project Space, 62 Brown Street, Sheffield, S1 2BS

Exhibition Private View Fri 7th June 6 – 8.30pm

Open Sat and Sun 12 – 6pm

Closes Sat 22nd June 6pm

By appointment at other times

Contact dawn.woolley@leeds-art.ac.uk

Hold the Space brings together artists whose feminist practice-based research examine space and embodiment in a variety of different ways. Ranging from drawing and photography to installation and archives, these practices centre bodies through gestural acts and material traces.

Zara Worth examines relationships between the digital and the divine to  propose a visual and metaphoric convergence between religious imagery and smartphones through the figure of the threshold. Created using imitation gold-leaf gilded onto polythene, Think of a door (temptation/redemption) (2022) considers the ethics of social media inspired aspirations. Cutting Together A/part (2024) literally cut-together the forms of Eastern Orthodox icons and smartphones, working on both sides of the paper.

In Touchers (2024) Marika Grasso examines our daily encounters with touch-screen devices in order to explore our tactile relationships with technology. Her research considers how textiles and touchscreens become untouched and unworn, despite being an intimate component of daily life.

Ellen Sampson considers the relationship between textiles and bodies in Archival affects: bodies, absence and trace (2024).Presenting clothing archives as repositories of labour, emotion, and bodily trace, the installation plays with the imagery and forms of archival storage and display; how we attended to, preserve and organise these intimate and bodily things.

Paula Chambers’ crochet covered objects could be viewed as an archive of an ageing body. In Last Bus Home (2024) crochet topped paperweights stage femininity as if overcompensating for the processes of aging. Bad Faith (2024) features beauty products produced for menopausal and post-menopausal woman. Each crochet cover hides a product designed and marketed to alleviate the signs of female aging – such as oestrogen gel, collogen supplements, and anti-aging face cream – in order to bring the undisciplined female body under control.

Archival material is also a source material for Alison J Carr who uses her own image archives to explore the complexities of feminine display. In Spirit of a Muse (2024- ) and Crown / Halo (2021- ) she creates drawings from photographs in which she embodies ambiguous poses, conveying complex emotional interiority while her body is posing and showing off.

Also using methods of self-portrayal, Elizabeth Orcutt explores her sense of self using digital collage, frequently becoming entangled in genres such as family snapshots, paintings, and silhouettes. The Shades adopt the proto-photographic silhouette that was popular from the end of the 18th Century until the mid-19th Century. In the images Orcutt expresses surprise, rage, fear, disgust, happiness, sadness, and contempt to explore how these emotions effect experiences of self-recognition.

Dawn Woolley uses gestures and poses in self- and other-portraiture to critique and subvert binary gender and beauty norms in selfies and portraiture. #Rebel Selves (2023-4) experiments with ideas of entanglement, camouflage and parade to create performative spaces in which visitors can create queered selfies. Glitchies (2024) are video portraits vignettes made in collaboration with Jay Yule a queer contemporary dancer.

On Saturday 15th June (1.30-2.30pm) Woolley is running a gesture workshop in which participants can create their own selfies and co-create a queer gestural language.


This exhibition is kindly supported by Leeds Arts University.


Alison J Carr is an artist, mentor, and scholar. She works visually and creates performances, examining bodies on display and the contexts they perform in. Routledge published her book, Viewing Pleasure and Being A Showgirl: How Do I Look?, in 2018, and her novella The Night, was published in 2023. Career highlights include being a Site Gallery Platform / Freelands resident (2018-20) and co-editing Sex on Stage, with Dr Lynn Sally, forthcoming, Bloomsbury.

Paula Chambers is an artist, academic and arts educator. She has exhibited widely including solo exhibitions Inconvenient Bodies at Hošek Contemporary in Berlin, Working Girls at The Whitaker, and Not at Home at the Art House, Wakefield. Paula is Subject Leader for Sculpture on BA (Hons) Fine Art at Leeds Arts University. She is co-editor of the book Wearable Objects and Curative Things: Material Approaches to the Intersections of Fashion, Art, Health and Medicine, and has written chapters in Feminist Art Activisms and Artivisms, Feminist Visual Activism and the Body, and in An Artist and a Mother.

Marika Grasso is Ph.D. candidate at Sheffield Hallam University, funded by L4L, Research England. Her practice focuses on material practice-based approach, to explore tactile relationships with technology. She studied Textiles at The Royal College of Art and Fashion Design at Central Saint Martins. Her PhD work Beyond touch-screens exhibited at the CHI Interactive experience Free University of Bolzano and Stanley Gallery, Kingston. She attended the Activism Neuroaesthetics in Cognitive Capitalism conference organised by SFSIA. She took part in the online residency @Orbit, and her work TS#25 is currently exhibited as part of Conversations in Practic/se at Yorkshire Art Space. She was a Junior Fellow at IWM (Vienna) with the research: Digital Humanism and Care: What is digital humanism made of?

Elizabeth Orcutt is an artist, lecturer and researcher. She works with photography and digital collage. Her research-into-practice approach is feminist and takes in New Materialist ideas, particularly the theme of ‘entanglement’, which upholds the hybridity of methods (like photography and fabrication) and dualities like mind and body, or subject and object. She lives in Cornwall and teaches Cultural Studies to fashion students at Falmouth University. Her recently completed PhD is entitled Reflection and Photography: Materialising My[Visual]Self. 

Ellen Sampson is an artist and material culture researcher whose work draws upon phenomenology and psychoanalytic theory to explore the relationships between bodies, and garments, both in museums and archives, and in everyday life.  Her work uses film, photography, and writing to explore agency of objects, our entanglements with them and the power of bodily trace. Ellen is Senior Research Fellow in the School of Design at Northumbria University and co-founder of the Fashion Research Network. She was previously a Curatorial Fellow at The Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Professorial Fellow at UCA. Her book Worn: Footwear Attachment and the Affects of Wear was published by Bloomsbury in 2020.

Zara Worth is a visual artist and researcher living and working between Yorkshire and the North East. Her practice spans drawing, painting, sculpture, and installation, often incorporating gold and imitation gold leaf into artworks concerned with contemporary values, meaning-making and belief-systems. Worth was recently awarded a PhD from Leeds School of Art at Leeds Beckett University for the research project ‘Thinking-through traces: a practice-led diffractive reading of the smartphone through the Eastern Orthodox icon’. Worth was shortlisted for the Woon Art Prize in 2013 and since has received awards and grants for her work from The Newbridge Project, Arts Council England, Helix Arts, Goldsmiths and the YLCE. Currently Worth is developing new projects in collaboration with the new public art collective STRIKE and creating a series of artists books for a forthcoming exhibition at Maggs Bros, London.

Dawn Woolley is an artist and research fellow at Leeds Arts University. Her artistic practice encompasses performance, photography, video, and installation. She examines popular and consumer cultures using a queer, anti-capitalist lens. It is a form of activism and a feminist critique of representations of gender. Recent solo exhibitions include; “Joy and Revolution: Rebel Selves”, Diskurs Gallery, Berlin, 2023; “Consumed: Stilled Lives” bildkultur Gallery, Stuttgart, (2022), and Perth Centre for Photography, Australia, (2021). Her book Consuming the Body: Capitalism, Social Media and Commodification was published in 2023 by Bloomsbury.

Elizabeth Orcutt
Ellen Sampson
Alison J. Carr
Dawn Woolley
Zara Worth
Paula Chambers
Marika Grasso