Dawn Woolley is a visual artist using photography, video, installation, performance, and sound. Woolley received a first-class degree in Fine Art Printmaking from Manchester Metropolitan University (2001). She completed an MA in Photography (2008) and PhD by project in Fine Art (2017) at the Royal College of Art. She uses photographs of objects and people to question issues of artificiality and idealisation. In her self-portrait work she creates photographic substitutes to examine the act of looking and being looked at. She positions herself as a female object to explore the power relations at play in exhibitionism and voyeurism. She views her still life work as portraits of a type, evoking unseen subjects who possess and consume the objects on display. Drawing on both definitions of the term 'consume' she produces food still life photography to represent different characters and positions in relation to advanced capitalist society.
Art works can be viewed here: www.dawnwoolley.com. At Leeds Arts University, Dawn contributes to the institution’s research strategy and mentors research-active staff.
Woolley's research centres on consumer culture and commodification in advanced capitalist societies. Referring to Marxism and psychoanalysis she explores the relationship between people and objects, and the impact that adverts have as disseminators of social values. Taking the term 'advert' quite loosely, she refers to Dutch still life paintings as adverts for the craft-objects they depict. The body of the consumer is also considered an advert because of the commodities it is adorned with and the socially prescribed ideals it could reinforce. The impact of social media network sites and the rise of the ubiquitous "selfie" is also considered. The practical outcomes of this research include multiple photographic series, two photography books, sound pieces and public interventions in commercial advertising spaces in cities and on social networking sites.
In 2017 Woolley began a collaborative project - Hard Stop - with American artist Davin Watne. Watne and Woolley produced a billboard and performance for RedBoard 2017 as part of Hull Capital of Culture 2017. They are working on a new performance and moving image work for Fighting Talk exhibition, SheFest, Sheffield 2018.
Broadhead, S., Bale, I., Case, K., Hussain, M., and Woolley, D. (2020) ‘Exploring the black, Asian and ethnic minority (BAME) student experience using a Community of Inquiry approach’, Journal of Widening Participation and Lifelong Learning, 22(1), pp. 112-131.
Woolley, D. (2018) ‘Critical Clickbait: Artist Interventions in Commercial Visual Culture’, InMedia: The French Journal of Media Studies, 7(1).
Woolley, D. (2017) ‘Aberrant consumers: Selfies and fat admiration websites’, Fat Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal or Body Weight and Society, 6 (2), pp. 206-222.
Woolley, D. (2020) The Dissecting Gaze: Fashioned Bodies on Social Networking Sites. In: M. Laign and J. Wilson, eds., Revisiting the Gaze: Feminism, Fashion and the Female Body. I B Tauris.
Woolley, D. (2019) The Iconography of Disruptive Bodies: Social Media and Medical Identities. In: J. Melkumova and H. Muzaffar, eds., Bodies in flux: embodiments at the end of anthropocentrism. Leiden: Brill Publishing.
Woolley, D. (2017) Review of ‘Mass Photography: Collective Histories of Everyday Life’ By Annebella Pollen, London: I B Tauris. Photography and Culture, 10 (3).
Woolley, D. (2021) Consuming the Body: Capitalism, Social Media and Commodification. I B Tauris. Forthcoming.
Exhibition Catalogue Essays
Moore, J., and Woolley, D. (2011) Virtually Real. University of Leeds Press. Exhibition held at The Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery, University of Leeds. 28 February – 21 May 2011.
Woolley, D. (2010) Visual Pleasure: photography, illusion and the desire to be deceived. Ffotogallery, Cardiff.
Moore, J. and Woolley, D. (2006), Making Love to my Ego. Manchester: Cornerhouse Publishing. Exhibition held at Castlefield Gallery. 11 August – 24 September 2006.
Woolley, D. (2019) Consumed: stilled lives. Blenheim Walk Gallery, Leeds Arts University, Leeds. 12 July – 22 August 2019.
Woolley, D. (2019) Modern nature building wrap. The Hepworth, Wakefield.
Group Exhibition. (2019) Swap Editions: BREX-Kit. Creekside Projects, London. 21 March – 24 March 2019.
Woolley, D. and Watne, D. (2018) Dreamers. The Wassaic Project, Wassaic, New York. 22 December – 29 December 2018.
Woolley, D. and Craddock, J. (2018) On Show. Curator’s Choice, Leeds Arts University, Leeds. 1 November – 31 December 2018.
Woolley, D and Herrington, K. (2018) Still Life: Things Devouring Time. The Stanley and Audrey Burton Gallery, The University of Leeds. 21 November 2018 – 23 March 2019.
Woolley, D. (2018) Consumed: Stilled Lives. Blyth Gallery, London. 26 September – 2 November 2018.
Woolley, D. and Watne, D. (2018) Freedomination. 35 Chapel Walk, Sheffield. 1 March – 15 March 2018.
Woolley, D. (2018) Consumed: Stilled Lives. Ffotogallery, Cardiff. 13 January – 3 February 2018.
Woolley, D. (2017) Consumed: Stilled Lives. Ruskin Gallery, Cambridge. 21 September – 14 October 2017.
Group Exhibition. (2017) ‘The Substitute (holiday)’ in From Selfie to Self Expression. Saatchi Gallery, London. March – September 2017.
Group Exhibition. (2017) ‘The Substitute, Visual Pleasure and Interloper series’ in Self/Selfie. Ballarat International Photography Festival, Australia. 19 August – 17 September 2017.
Group Exhibition. (2017) ‘The Substituted, Visual Pleasure and Interloper series’ in “Le Féminin” Circulation(s). Voies Off, Arles, France. July 2017.
Woolley, D. (2016) Consumed: Stilled Lives. Dyson Gallery, London. 14 December – 18 December 2016.
Woolley, D. (2016) Consumer Poster Project. Various Locations in Cardiff and London. 7 November 2014 – 18 December 2016.
Group Exhibition. (2014) ‘Cut to the Measure of Desire’ installation in All Coherence Gone?. BayArts, Cardiff. 23 September -17 October 2014. Curated by Frances Woodley.
Group Exhibition. (2014) ‘The Dolls House’ series in Basically. Forever. Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography. 9 August – 24 August 2014.
Group Exhibition. (2014) ‘The Substitute’ in Recollection. Ruimte Morguen Gallery, Antwerp. 14 March – 3 May 2014.
Woolley, D. (2013) Visual Pleasure. Hippolyte Photography Gallery, Helsinki. 4 July – 2 August 2013.
Group Exhibition. (2013) Wild Oats. Milkwood Art Gallery, Cardiff. 4 May – 18 May 2013.
Woolley, D. (2013) ‘The Substitute, Visual Pleasure and Interloper’ series in Wasteland. Greenlease Gallery, Kansas City.
Group Exhibition. (2013) ‘The Substitute’ series in Look Attractive. UMKC Gallery of Art, Kansas City. November 8 2012 – January 14 2013.
Woolley, D. (2012) Short Lived Pleasure. Bloc Projects, Sheffield. September – October 2012.
Woolley, D. (2012) Visual Pleasure. Vilniaus Fotografijos Galerija, Lithuania. July – August 2012.
Group Exhibition. (2011) ‘The Doll’s House’ series in Worldwide @ Young Portfolio. Kiyosato Museum of Photographic Arts, Yamanshi, Japan. 22 October 2011 – 29 January 2012.
Woolley, D. (2011) Visual Pleasure. Ffotogallery, Cardiff. 21 July – 6 August 2011.
Group Exhibition. (2011) ‘Cut the Measure of Desire’ video in Objects of Desire. Freud Museum, London.
Group Exhibition. (2011) ‘The Substitute’ series in Time After. MCK Gallery, Split, Croatia.
Group Exhibition. (2011) ‘The Substitute’ series in Expo et Reflexions ser les Stereotypes Sexistes. College de Bourg Mestre et Echevins de Schaerbeek, Brussels.
Woolley, D. (2010) The Substitute. Murray Edwards College, Cambridge University. February – April 2010.
Group Exhibition. (2010) ‘The Substitute’ series in My World: Visions of 21st Century Feminism. European Women’s Lobby, Brussels.
Group Exhibition (2009) ‘Interloper video’ in Cream International Festival for Arts and Media. Tokyo University of the Arts, Yokohama, Japan. 31 October – 29 November 2009.
Group Exhibition (2009) ‘Interloper video’ in Abandon Normal Devices Festival. Fact Centre, Liverpool. 23 September – 27 September 2009.
Group Exhibition (2009) ‘Interloper video’ in Evolution Media Arts Festival. Hyde Park Picture House and Burton Art Gallery, Leeds.
Group Exhibition. (2009) ‘The Substitute’ series in The Human Canvas. The Center for Fine Art Photography, Fort Collins, Colorado, USA.
Group Exhibition. (2009) ‘The Substitute’ series in Transfixed Motion/Transitory Still. Sheffield Hallam University. 3 April – 18 April 2009.
Group Exhibition. (2009) ‘Interloper video’ in Art vs. Film. University of Wisconsin, Madison, USA.
Woolley, D. (2006) The Other Woman. The Lighthouse, Wolverhampton. February – April 2006.
Consumer with Peter Kennard, David Watne and Ellie Harrison. (2015) Commercial advertising spaces, Cardiff. March – May 2015.
Create, Observe, Perform, [Video exhibition]. (2012) Alkovi Gallery, Helsinki. October – December 2012. Funded by The Arts Council of Helsinki. (Co-curated with James Moore).
Virtually Real, [Group show – touring]. (2010-2011) Blyth Gallery, London and Burton Gallery, Leeds. 24 November – 17 December 2010 and 28 February – 21 May 2011. (Co-curated with James Moore).
Failure/Success. (2009) Tactile Bosch Gallery, Cardiff. July 18th – August 15th 2009. (RCA Photography graduates).
Making Love to My Ego Group Show [publication]. (2007) Castlefield Gallery, Manchester. Funded by the Arts Council of England (NW), The Royal Netherlands Cultural Attache and Castlefield Gallery. (Co-curated with James Moore).
Another Product @ Cornerhouse [Group Installation]. (2006) Cornerhouse Art Centre. January – April 2006. (Co-curated with James Moore).
Woolley, D. and Watne, D. (2017) Freedomination billboard and soapbox performance.
Woolley, D. (2015) Hysterical Selfies and Docile Bodies. Experimentica International Performance Art Festival, Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff. October 2015.
Woolley, D. (2012) Short Lived Pleasure. Bloc Projects, Sheffield. September 2012.
Woolley, D. (2012) Short Lived Pleasure. Vilniaus Fotografijos Galerija, Lithuania. June 2012.
Woolley, D. (2011) Foolish Passion. Portmanteau, Halle14, Spinnerei, Leipzig. May 2011. Commissioned by G39, Cardiff.
Woolley, D. (2010) Cut to the Measure of Desire. Park Conservative Club, Cardiff. April 2010.
Conferences, Talks & Presentations
Woolley, D. Still Life, Vanitas and Commodity Culture. Expanding Communities of Sustainable Practice Symposium, Leeds Arts University. 16 November 2018.
Woolley, D. In Conversation with David Drake, Gallery Director. Ffotogallery, Cardiff. January 2018.
Woolley, D. ‘The Dissecting Gaze of the “Cutting Scalpel Eye”: Fashioned Bodies on Social Networking Sites’, The Gaze Revisited: Feminism, Fashion and the Female Body Conference. Chelsea College of Arts, University of the Arts London. June 2017.
Woolley, D. ‘Selfies, Attention Economy Workers and a Dissecting Way of Seeing’, Ways of Machine Seeing Conference.
Woolley, D. ‘Selfie Vanitas Performance’, Talking Bodies Conference. University of Chester. April 2017.
Woolley, D. ‘Hysterical Selfies and the Commercial Construction of Identity on Social Networking Sites’, Visualizing Consumer Culture, Commodifying Visual Culture in the English-speaking World Conference. Sorbonne University, Paris. October 2016.
Woolley, D. ‘Selfies: Still Life or Nature Morte’, (Dis)Connected Forms: Narratives on the Fractured Self Conference. Wilberforce Institute for the study of Slavery and Emancipation, University of Hull. September 2016.
Woolley, D. ‘Hysterical Selfies and the Commercial Construction of Identity on Social Networking Sites’, The Seventh International Conference of Image. John Moore University, Liverpool. June 2016.
Woolley, D. ‘Hysterical Selfies’, “Let’s Hear it for the Girls”: Girlhood, Media and Popular Culture 1990-Present. University of Warwick. March 2016.
Woolley, D. ‘Aberrant Consumers’, The Body’s Transformations Conference. The Body Horror Project, Inter-Disciplinary.Net, Mansfield College, Oxford University. August 2015.
Woolley, D. ‘The Iconography of Social Media’, Twenty First Century Photography: Art, Philosophy, Technique Conference. Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London. June 2015.
Woolley, D. ‘Disruptive Bodies’, Femininities, Masculinities and the Posthuman Conference. The Femininities and Masculinities Project, Inter-disciplinary.Net., Dubrovnik, Croatia. April 2015.
Woolley, D. ‘Bodies that Shout’, Talking Bodies: Identity Sexuality and Representation Conference. University of Chester. April 2015.
Woolley, D. ‘Commodity-Body-Fetish’ and panel discussion with Esther Teichmann and Alison Bancroft’, Surface and Boundaries: The Legacy of Guy Bourdin event. Somerset House, London. March 2015.
Woolley, D. Curb Your Enthusiasm: Art, Philosophy and Censorship, in conversation with Professor Stephen Mumford, Philosopher, University of Nottingham. Nottingham Contemporary Art Gallery. November 2014.
Woolley, D. In Conversation with Dr Paul Cabuts, Photographer and Head of Photography, University of South Wales. Ffotogallery, Cardiff. October 2014.
Woolley, D. Food, Photography and the Eating Disordered Body. Eating Disorder and Neuropsychology Research Department, Kings College London. October 2014.
Wolley, D. ‘Spectacular Bodies in the Nineteenth Century’ [Talk and Exhibition], Gender, Generation and the Body Conference. West of England and South Wales Women’s History Network, Cardiff University. June 2014.
Woolley, D. ‘Food is Love Gallery’, Milkwood Gallery/Diffusion Photography Festival. Cardiff. May 2013.
Woolley, D. ‘The Pleasure of the Enigma’, Visual Pleasure, Photography and Performance Symposium. University of Newport. April 2012.
Woolley, D. In Conversation with Dr. Jo Longhurst, Artist and Leverhulme Fellow, European Centre for Photographic Research, University of Wales, Newport. Ffotogallery. June 2011.
Woolley, D. and Worth, Z. (2019) ‘[Im]moral Food’, In Media Res [online].
Woolley, D. (2017) The Commands of the Sadistic Capitalist. May 2017.
Woolley, D. (2015) Wishbook. Site specific Instagram project. Ongoing.
Woolley, D. (2015) 12 Days Infomercials. Site specific Facebook project. December 2015 – January 2016.