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. 



Woolley, D. 2019. Consuming the Body: Capitalism, Social Media and Commodification. I B Tauris.

Chapters in Books

Woolley, D. 2019. 'The Dissecting Gaze: Fashioned Bodies on Social Networking Sites', in Laign, M. and Wilson, J. (eds) 2019. 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 Melkumova, J. and Muzaffar, H. (eds) 2019. Beyond the Body. Brill Publishing, Leiden.

Journal Article

Woolley, D. 2017. 'Aberrant consumers: Selfies and fat admiration websites', Journal Article, 2017. Fat Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Body Weight and Society, 6(2).

Exhibition Catalogue Essays

Moore, J., and Woolley, D., 2011. 'Virtually Real' exhibition. University of Leeds Press.

Woolley, D., 2010. 'Visual Pleasure' exhibition. Ffotogallery: Cardiff.

Moore, J., and Woolley, D., 2006. 'Making Love to my Ego' exhibition. Cornerhouse Publishing: Manchester.

Book Review

Woolley, D., 2017. Review of 'Mass Photography: Collective Histories of Everyday Life,' by Annebella Pollen, I B Tauris: London. Photography and Culture, Vol. 10, Iss. 3, 2017. DOI:10.1080/17514517.2017.1362785

Plenary Presentations

Selfie Vanitas Performance, Talking Bodies Conference, University of Chester: April 2017.

'Selfies: Still Life or Nature Morte', (Dis)Connected Forms: Narratives on the Fractured Self conference, Wilberforce Institute for the study of Slavery and Emanciaption, University of Hull: September 2016.

Conference Presentations

The Dissecting Gaze of the 'Cutting Scalpel Eye': Fashioned Bodies on Social Networking Sites at The Gaze Revisited: Feminism, Fashion and the Female Body conference. Chelsea College of Arts, University of the Arts London. June 2017

Selfies, Attention Economy Workers, and a Dissecting Way of Seeing at the Ways of Machine Seeing conference. Cambridge University and Anglia Ruskin University. June 2017

Hysterical Selfies and the Commercial Construction of Identity on Social Networking Sites' paper at the Visualizing Consumer Culture, Commodifying Visual Culture in the English-speaking World conference, Sorbonne University, Paris. October 2016.

Hysterical Selfies and the Commercial Construction of Identity on Social Networking Sites at The Seventh International Conference of the Image. John Moore University, Liverpool. June 2016.

Hysterical Selfies at the "Let's Hear it for the Girls": Girlhood, Media and Popular Culture 1990-Present, University of Warwick. March 2016.

Aberrant Consumers at The Body's Transformations conference. The Body Horror Project, Inter-Disciplinary.Net, Mansfield College, Oxford University. August 2015.

The Iconography of Social Media at the Twenty First Century Photography: Art, Philosophy, Technique conference. University of the Arts London, Central saint Martins. June 2015.

Disruptive Bodies at the Femininities, Masculinities and the Posthuman conference. The Femininities and Masculinities Project, Inter-Disciplinary.Net. Dubrovnik, Croatia. April 2015.

Bodies that Shout at the Talking Bodies: Identity Sexuality and Representation conference. University of Chester. April 2015.

The Pleasure of the Enigma at the Visual Pleasure, Photography and Performance symposium. University of Newport. April 2012.


In Conversation with David Drake, Gallery Director. Ffotogallery, Cardiff. January 2018.

Commodity-Body-Fetish paper and panel discussion with Esther Teichmann and Alison Bancroft at the Surfaces and Boundaries: The Legacy of Guy Bourdin event. Somerset House, London. March 2015.

In Conversation with Dr Paul Cabuts, Photographer and Head of Photography, University of South Wales. Ffotogallery, Cardiff. October 2014. www.mixcloud.com/Ffotogallery/dawn-woolley-consumer-project-launch-discussion-with-paul-cabuts

Food, Photography and the Eating Disordered Body. Eating Disorder and Neuropsychology Research Department, Kings College London. October 2014.

Curb Your Enthusiasm: Art, Philosophy and Censorship, in conversation with Professor Stephen Mumford, Philosopher, University of Nottingham. Nottingham Contemporary Art Gallery. November 2014. www.youtube.com/watch?v=VDV4l28Cenk

Pathological Consumers: Spectacular Bodies in the Nineteenth Century talk and exhibition at the Gender, Generation and the Body conference. West of England and South Wales Women's History Network, Cardiff University. June 2014

Food is Love Gallery Talk at Milkwood Gallery / Diffusion Photography Festival Cardiff. May 2013

In Conversation with Dr. Jo Longhurst, Artist and Leverhulme Fellow, European Centre for Photographic Research, University of Wales, Newport. Ffotogallery. June 2011

Solo Exhibitions

Consumed: Stilled Lives. Blyth Gallery, London. September/October 2018.

Consumed: Stilled Lives. Ffotogallery, Cardiff. January/February 2018.

Consumed: Stilled Lives. Ruskin Gallery, Cambridge. September/October 2017.

Consumed: Stilled Lives. Dyson Gallery, London. December 2016.

Visual Pleasure. Hippolyte Photography Gallery, Helsinki. July/August 2013.

Short Lived Pleasure. Bloc Projects, Sheffield. September/October 2012.

Visual Pleasure. Vilniaus Fotografijos Galerija, Lithuania. July/August 2012.

Visual Pleasure. Ffotogallery, Cardiff. June/July 2011.

The Substitute. Murray Edwards College, Cambridge University. February/April 2010.

The Other Woman. The Lighthouse, Wolverhampton. February/April 2006.

Selected Group Exhibitions

The Substitute, Visual Pleasure and Interloper series in 'Self/Selfie'. August - September 2017, Ballarat International Photography Festival, Australia.

The Substitute, Visual Pleasure and Interloper series in "Le Féminin" Circulation(s). July 2017.Voies Off, Arles, France.

The Substitute (holiday) in 'From Selfie to Self Expression'. March - September 2017. Saatchi Gallery, London.

The Dolls House series in 'Basically. Forever.'. 2014. Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography.

Cut to the Measure of Desire installation in All Coherence Gone? 2014. BayArts, Cardiff. Curated by Frances Woodley.

The Substitute series in 'Recollection', 2014. Ruimte Morguen Gallery, Antwerp.

The Substitute, Visual Pleasure and Interloper series in 'Wasteland', Two-person exhibition, 2013. Greenlease Gallery, Kansas City.

The Substitute series in 'Look Attractive'. 2012. UMKC Gallery of Art, Kansas City.

Cut to the Measure of Desire video in 'Objects of Desire'. 2011. Freud Museum, London.

The Doll's House series in Worldwide @ Young Portfolio. 2011. Kiyosato Museum of Photographic Arts, Yamanshi, Japan.
The Substitute series in Time After. 2011. MCK Gallery, Split, Croatia.

The Substitute series in Expo et Reflexions sur les Stereotypes Sexistes. 2011. College des Bourg Mestre et Echevins de Schaerbeek, Brussels

The Substitute series in 'My World: Visions of 21st Century Feminism'. 2010. European Women's Lobby, Brussels.

Interloper video in 'New Media, Sex, and Culture in the 21st Century'. 2010. Museum of New Art, Detroit.

Interloper video in Cream International Festival for Arts and Media. 2009. Tokyo University of the Arts, Yokohama, Japan.

Interloper video in Abandon Normal Devices Festival. 2009. Fact Centre, Liverpool.

Interloper video in Evolution Media Arts Festival 2009. Leeds, Hyde Park Picture House and Burton Art Gallery.

The Substitute series in The Human Canvas. 2009. The Center for Fine Art Photography, Fort Collins, Colorado, USA.

The Substitute series in Transfixed Motion/Transitory Still. 2009. Sheffield Hallam University.

Interloper video in Art vs. Film. 2009. University of Wisconsin- Madison, USA.


'Hysterical Selfies and Docile Bodies' performance. October 2015. Experimentica International Performance Art Festival, Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff.

'Short Lived Pleasure' performance. September 2012. Bloc Projects, Sheffield.

'Short Lived Pleasure' performance. June 2012. Vilniaus Fotografijos Galerija, Lithuania.
'Foolish Passion' performance. May 2011. Portmanteau, Halle14, Spinnerei, Leipzig. (commissioned by G39, Cardiff)

'Homo Bulla' performance. June 2010. G39, Cardiff.

'Cut to the Measure of Desire' performance, April 2010, Park Conservative Club, Cardiff.

Curatorial Projects

'Consumer', Peter Kennard, Davin Watne and Ellie Harrison. March-May 2015. Commercial advertising spaces in Cardiff. Supported by Miliband-Lipmann Trust.

'Create', Observe, Perform, Video exhibition, October - December 2012. Alkovi Gallery, Helsinki. 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. (co-curated with James Moore).

'Failure/Success', July - September 2009. Tactile Bosch Gallery, Cardiff (RCA Photography graduates).

Making Love to My Ego Group Show (publication), June - August 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), January - April 2006. Cornerhouse Art Centre. (co-curated with James Moore).