Professor Sheila Gaffney


Professor of Research (Innovation & Development)

Professor Sheila Gaffney is a sculptor with a long commitment to crafts and the material object. As Professor of Research (Innovation & Development) she contributes to the development and implementation of the University’s research ambitions. Prior to this she had extensive experience in all aspects of art education. She notably established Fine Art as an Higher Education subject within Leeds Arts University, then led and developed the area for 22 years. She studied Fine Art (Sculpture) at Camberwell School of Art & Crafts, and the Slade School of Fine Art. She gained an MA from the School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies at the University of Leeds and a PhD by practice from the University of Huddersfield.

Sheila’s research encounters sculpture, life writing and psychoanalysis. It investigates their relationship through sculpture, drawing and scholarly writing. She brings her practice research as a sculptor into her approach to student, staff and curriculum experiences, and mentors individual staff undertaking practice-based research within the University. Sheila has particular interests in the relationships that exist between the traditional processes of modelling and casting with identity formation, class, gender, and multi-generational ethnicity. She has explored these themes through exhibitions, published articles, conference contributions and her doctoral thesis Embodied Dreaming as a Sculptural Practice.

Her work was recently included in the survey exhibition If Not Now, When? Generations of Women in Sculpture in Britain, 1960 – 2022 exhibited at The Hepworth Wakefield and Saatchi Gallery London. Previously she has been Artist in Residence for Bradford Metropolitan District Council Museums, Galleries & Heritage (2007 – 9) and at First Direct Bank Plc (2001) to celebrate Arts Council England’s UK Year of the Artist. Accolades include winning the NATSOPA Award for Sculpture, Vikki Oppenheim = Blum Rites of Passage Travel Award, Arts Council England Individual Award and Yorkshire Arts Development Programme Research & Development Award.

Sheila is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Sculptors and a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and has been an Advance HE Associate since September 2015, undertaking the accreditation of the international Professional Standards Framework and Individual Fellowship Recognition.


Group Exhibition. (2023) If Not Now, When? Generations of Women in Sculpture in Britain, 1960 – 2022, The Hepworth Wakefield; Saatchi Gallery

Group Exhibition. (2021-22) Trinity Buoy Wharf Drawing Prize 2021, Trinity Buoy Wharf, London; Drawing Projects UK, Trowbridge; Cooper Gallery, Dundee.

Group Exhibition. (2019) Parallel Lines: Sculpture and Drawing, Ingram Collection of Modern British Art, The Lightbox Gallery, Woking

Group Exhibition. (2017) MAKING...Making Research, Leeds Arts University Gallery

Group Exhibition. (2016) The ING Discerning Eye, Mall Galleries, London

Gaffney, Sheila. (2018) Me & You, Dean Clough Galleries, Halifax

Group Exhibition. (2016) Thought Positions in Sculpture, ROTOR, Huddersfield Art Gallery

Gaffney, S. (2015) Class Forms, Leeds College of Art Gallery

Group Exhibition. 2015, The Process Continues, Leeds College of Art Gallery

Gaffney, S. 2014, Tacit Knowledge, Syracuse University, NY USA (curator) [Show/Exhibition]

Group Exhibition. (2013) Sculpture, Photography and the Index, The Cooper Union School of Art, NYC, USA (curator)

Group Exhibition. (2012), Local Imagination, The Diego Gallery, San Francisco Art Institute, CA, USA (curator)

Gaffney, Sheila. (2009) Others, Cliffe Castle Museum, Keighley

Gaffney, Sheila. (2009) To The Table, Huddersfield Art Gallery, Huddersfield

Group Exhibition. (2005) Situation Leeds, Patrick Studios, Leeds

Gaffney, Sheila. (2003) footNOTES, Henry Moore Institute

Group Exhibition. (2000) Before, now ......and after, ecArt, The Clock House London

Group Exhibition. (2000) Art 2000 in Berlin Mitte, The British Council

Gaffney, Sheila. (1999) Locale, Gallery II, University of Bradford

Gaffney, S. and Schwab, L (1994) Wunderkammer: the female gaze objectified, Leeds Art Gallery


Gaffney, S. 2017. The Sickness of Being Disallowed: Premonition and Insight in the ‘‘Artist’s Sketchbook”, OAR: The Oxford Artistic and Practice Based Research Platform. Issue 2, Validity, ISSN: 2399-5092.

Gaffney, S. 2017. A Story Within a Story Within a Story Within a Story: British Art School Experience Retrieved Through Archive, Anecdote and Life Writing, n.paradoxa: international feminist art journal. Volume 40, Ends and Beginnings, pp. 80-88, ISSN 1461-0434.

Gaffney, S. Embodied Dreaming in the Archive, Bailey, R. (ed) 2015 Journal of Writing in Creative Practice. 7: 3 pp.387-401, doi: 1386/jwcp.7.3.387_1, 2014.

Gaffney, S. Reflections On The Good, The Bad And The Ugly, Bailey, R. (ed) Thought Positions in Sculpture: Artists’ Writing. 2015

Gaffney, S. (2006). Material Evidence: Use of the Figurative Fragment in the Construction of a Social Sculptural Subject. Retrieved from


Gaffney, S and Schwab, L (1994) Object. [Artist book]

Book Sections

Gaffney, S. (2015) Modeling lines of sculptural thought: The use of a transcription project to interrogate, intervene and dialogue with a sculpture archive, Le Feuvre, L. (ed) 2015 Henry Moore Institute Essays in Sculpture. 73:Active Archives, Henry Moore Foundation, ISSN 2047- 2471 ISBN 978-1-905462-50-6.

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