Professor Sheila Gaffney is a sculptor with a long commitment to crafts and the material object. She is Director of Undergraduate Studies at Leeds Arts University and has extensive experience in all aspects of art education. For 22 years Sheila both led and developed Fine Art within Leeds Arts University. 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 and she brings her practice research as a sculptor into her approach to student, staff and curriculum experiences. Her current teaching is with post graduate students where she leads the core transdisciplinary module Contextualising Your Practice and contributes to the MA Fine Art course. 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.

Sheila was 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 member of the steering group of the National Association of Fine Art Educators (NAFAE). She is 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.


Gaffney S. and Schwab L. (1994), Object. Yorkshire & Humberside Arts: Leeds Art


Gaffney, S. and Taylor, S. (2018) ‘Regenring…visual lives’, Journal of Writing in Creative Practice, 11 (2), pp. 217-232.

Gaffney, S. (2017) ‘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, 40, pp. 80-88.

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.

Gaffney, S. (2015) ‘Embodied Dreaming in the Archive’, Journal of Writing in Creative Practice, 7 (3), pp. 387-401.

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

Gaffney, S. (2006). ‘Material Evidence: Use of the Figurative Fragment in the Construction of a Social Sculptural Subject’. Interpreting Ceramics Issue 8, ISSN 1471-146X.

Book Sections

Gaffney, S. (2015) Modelling lines of sculptural thought: the use of a transcription project to interrogate, intervene and dialogue with a sculpture archive. In: L. Feuvre, ed., Henry Moore Institute Essays in Sculpture, 73: Active Archives. Henry Moore Foundation, pp. 50-56.

Gaffney, S. (2015) Reflections on The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. In: R. Bailey, ed., Thought Positions in Sculpture: Artists’ Writing. University of Huddersfield.


Group Exhibition. (2019). Parallel Lines: Sculpture and Drawing, Ingram Collection of Modern British Art, The Lightbox, Woking. 22 June – 25 August 2019.

Gaffney, S. (2018) Me & You. Dean Clough Galleries, Halifax. 17 February – 20 May 2018.

Group Exhibition. (2017). MAKING...Making Research, Leeds Arts University Gallery, Leeds 16 November – 01 December 2019.

Group Exhibition. (2016). The ING Discerning Eye, Mall Galleries, London. 17 - 27 November 2016.

Group Exhibition. (2016). Scarborough Winter School. Crescent Arts, Scarborough.

Group Exhibition. (2015) Thought Positions in Sculpture. ROTOR, Huddersfield Art Gallery. 10 October 2015 – 9 January 2016.

Group Exhibition. (2015) The Process Continues. Studio Gallery, Leeds Art University. 26 January – 13 March 2015.

Gaffney, S. (2014) Class Forms. Blenheim Walk Gallery, Leeds Art University. 12 December 2014 – 23 January 2015.

Group Exhibition. (2014) Tacit Knowledge. The Wall, Syracuse University, USA. 13 November – 29 November 2014. (Curator).

Group Exhibition. (2013) Classification. Blenheim Walk Gallery, Leeds Arts University, Leeds. 

Group Exhibition. (2013) Sculpture, Photography and the Index. 41 Cooper Gallery, The Cooper Union School of Art, New York, USA. 5 November – 9 November 2013. (Curator).

Group Exhibition. (2012) Local Imagination. The Diego Gallery, San Francisco Art Institute, San Francisco, USA. 13 August – 25 August 2012. (Curator).

Conferences, Talks & Presentations

Gaffney, S. (2020). Embodied Dreaming the London-Irish Mantelpiece. International Conference on Arts, Culture, and Education (ICACE) 2020, Sichuan Fine Arts Institute. 27 – 29 November 2020.

Gaffney, S. (2018). Alina Szapocznikow’s sculpture and drawings before feminism provided the language, Paradox and Absurdity: Alina Szapocznikow and the Body in Crisis. The Hepworth Wakefield. 27 Jan 2018.

Gaffney, S. (2017). Yet Another Story. A Feminist Space at Leeds: Looking Back to Think Forward. School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies, University of Leeds 15 -18 December 2017.

Gaffney, S. (2016) A Conversation in, with and through sculpture, Practice Research Research Practice. University of Cumbria. 15 July 2016.

Gaffney, S. (2016) The Future of Art Education [Chair], Festival of Art & Design. Ulster University. 8 March – 11 March 2016.

Bailey, R. (2015) Rowan Bailey in conversation with Sheila Gaffney, Class Forms. Leeds Arts University. 16 January 2015.

Gaffney, S. (2015) Shift Symposium: The Future of the Arts [Panel member]. University of Leeds. 29 April 2015.

Gaffney, S. (2016) Lost Cause?, The Hidden Curriculum, NAFAE Symposium. London Metropolitan University. 22 January 2015.

Gaffney, S. (2015) On Specialism, Leeds Arts University Fine Art Symposium. Leeds Arts University. December 2015.

Gaffney, S. (2015) Reflections on The Good, The Bad & The Ugly, ROTOR Thought Positions: Between Sculpture and the Archive Public Symposium. Heritage Quay, University of Huddersfield. 12 November 2015.

Gaffney, S. (2015) Feminist practices, tactics and strategies in art and design education, Gender and Education Association Conference. University of Roehampton. 24 June – 26 June 2015.

Gaffney, S. (2015) Embodied Dreaming in the Archive, The Process Continues Symposium. Leeds Arts University. 13 March 2015.

Gaffney, S. (2014) What role does professionalism have within the fine art curriculum?, Leeds Arts University Foundation Symposium. Leeds Arts University. December 2014.

Gaffney, S. (2014) Modelling lines of sculptural thought: the use of a transcription project to interrogate, intervene and dialogue with a sculpture archive: Archival Interventions in Sculpture Panel, Association of Art Historians 40th Anniversary Conference. Royal College of Art. 10 April – 12 April 2014.

Gaffney, S. (2014) Modelling lines of sculptural thought: the use of a transcription project to interrogate, intervene and dialogue with a sculpture archive, Inter-institutional Crit. The Hepworth Wakefield. April 2014.

Gaffney, S. (2013) How do I know that the people who teach me know what they’re talking about?, Leeds Arts University Foundation Symposium. Leeds Arts University. November 2013.

Gaffney, S. (2013) Sculpture: Looking up or down?, Class if ication Symposium. Leeds Arts University. July 2013.

Gaffney, S. (2010) Locale: a case study: Close to Home: Artists Reconsider the Local, Land2 Symposium. East Street Arts, Leeds. July 2010.

Gaffney, S. (2010) On Residencies, Professional Development Public Seminar Series. Union105 Gallery, East Street Arts, Leeds.

Gaffney, S. (2010) A fly in the studio – myriad viewpoints and professional development, The Diversity of Art Education Symposium. Leeds Arts University. November 2010.

Gaffney, S. (2009) Fit for Purpose, National Association of Fine Art Education Pedagogies and Practices Symposium. Swedenborg Society. March 2009.

Gaffney, S. (2008) Theory and practice and its integration in teaching and the curriculum, Scholarship and Practice in the Arts and Humanities Conference. The Open University. March 2008.

Gaffney, S. (2005) Indexicality as aide memoire, and the imagined subject, AHRB CongressCATH 2005: The Ethics and Politics of Virtuality and Indexicality. National Museum of Film and Photography. July 2005.

Gaffney, S. (2005) Material Evidence: use of the figurative fragment in the construction of a social sculptural subject, The Fragmented Figure Conference. Cardiff School of Art and Design. June 2005.

Gaffney, S. (2002) The Changing Class (not classification) of Sculpture, AHRB Congress CATH 2002: Translating Class, Altering Hospitality. Leeds Town Hall. June 2002.

Gaffney, S. (1993) Is the mainstream taboo?: Opening the Dialogues, Feminist Art Histories Network Conference. University of Leeds. June 1993.

Gaffney, S. (1982) Educated for what?, Women & Art Education Conference. Battersea Arts Centre, London. November 1982.