Simon Woolham

Simon Woolham

Artist, Maker, Curator, Researcher, Gallery educator

My work is concerned primarily with occupied spaces and the narratives that unfold in them. My drawings of school playing fields, junked underpasses and the like often contain text with the tone of dialogue. Through these glimpses of speech the dilapidated environments come to life in a skint version of enchantment: a tree stump or a broken fence, are filled with the meanings of the events that go on around and about them.


At the core of my practice is the collaborative exploration and encouragement of hidden human details, collective, shared histories, stories associated with belonging and the relationships to specific places and spaces, providing a voice to often unheard narrative. I explore the realms between fact and fiction in narrative through both a studio based, and collaborative practice, an expanded notion of drawing through writing, Biro drawings, walking, performance and film. I expand this through a variety of ways, mixing new technologies and older, more traditional processes.


I equally see drawing as walking and talking, as shared narrative lines, a performative act, drawing as a way of exploring both a psychological space and its narrative meaning, a way of walking through layers of one’s own memory, as well as connecting with others stories.


In my attempts to unearth and perform this unpredictable and fragile process of generating narrative, I use biro drawings, paper interventions, hand-made artist’s books and stone-lithography prints. More recently I have made a series of works that focus on recurring motifs that often feature in the work, ditches, unofficial dumps and breached security fences. My series of Pop-Up drawings inhabit the space between two and three dimensions, transforming folded paper into emotive sites for memory and recollection.


The work is unassuming, quite often made from simple materials and with seemingly modest aspirations. It is their quotidian qualities, however, that charges them with emotion, not that those emotions are easy to identify. It is not that these works are personal or autobiographical that obscures their emotional content, it is the fact that they are irreducibly, irrevocably unsettling. These sites are the scenes of humiliation as well as innocent play, of rejection and failure as well as fantasy and adventure.


My recently completed practice-led PhD project was focused around a collaborative residency, specifically researching how walking relates to narrative in physically embodied, virtual and psychological space. My practice-led research explored the relationship between walking (physically and virtually) and generating narrative around a particular place. This materialised as the website which incorporates a live ‘outline’ version of Google Maps, appropriately situating and enlivening the practice. 

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Location Manchester, North West
Activities Lecturing, Practice-based research, Residencies, Participatory projects, Curating
Artforms / type of project Animation, Book Works, Drawing, Film & Video, Text
Tags drawing, PhD researcher, gallerist, books, animation, text, film, music, PAPER

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