Lesley Halliwell

Email: Lesley.halliwell@stu.mmu.ac.uk
Twitter: @LesleySpiro
website: www.lesleyhalliwell.com


Lesley Halliwell originally trained as painter at Nottingham Trent University (BA Hons Fine Art, 1989) and has gone on to study Twentieth Century Art History (MA, Goldsmith’s College, University of London, 1995) and Fine Art (MA, Manchester Metropolitan University, 2001). She is currently undertaking a practice-based PhD (NWCDTP Award holder 2014-2020) at MIRIAD, Manchester Metropolitan University. Lesley is Director of Suite Studio Group, Salford and a part-time Lecturer at the University of Chester (2002- date).


The depth of surface: a practice-based enquiry of the picture plane.
Director of Studies: Rick Copesy, Supervisors: Dr Philip Sykas and Dr Jane Webb.

Research Summary

This study interrogates the depth of surface as a dense, complex and ambivalent plane. Through the making of artworks and a contextual underpinning, it explores the interplay between the outward facing and inward supporting components of the picture plane. Exposure of the active interchange between the outward-ness of an artwork and its deeper generating components will contribute to our understanding of surface.
The research brings critical commentary to existing artworks and to new works made in the course of the research. The understanding generated is applied to the wider sphere of the uses and value of surface in contemporary art. Notably, by evaluating the legacy and associated assumptions of the surface/structure dichotomy in a range of cultural art practices, a new reading of the interchange between surface and structure will be established.

Research moves between practical and theoretical investigations which impact on each other and shape the direction of the unfolding investigation. Several new bodies of artworks explore different aspects of surface and mark a considerable development in my established practice. A tacit knowledge of surface has been sought through the embodiment of other cultural art practices. A series of focused practical investigations explored a range of cross-cultural pattern- generating systems. Probing personal and historical legacies and the seepage between cultural boundaries has been a constructive part of the practical research.

Whilst my main method is practice, written essays exploring the broader contextual aspects of that practice have solidified into five thematic areas and I have worked towards an understanding of surface based on relationships rather than a seen/unseen dichotomy. It is envisaged that the final exhibition of artworks and thesis, whilst not providing a definitive definition of surface, will demonstrate the main areas of tension and how these influence the artist and viewer. The artistic and written outcomes will contribute to our knowledge of the depth of surface.

Research Interests

Surface, structure, pattern generating systems, geometry, ornamentation, cultural traditions, contemporary art, painting and drawing.

Recent Exhibitions

Tracing Paper, Paper Gallery, Manchester (2016), Compression Culture, Vertical Gallery, MMU (2016), Carbon meets Silicon, Oriel Sycharth Gallery,Glyndwr (2015), (detail), H-Space, Bangkok and Transition Gallery, London (2014/15); Beauty is the First Test, Pumphouse Gallery, London (touring 2012- 14); The Drawing Show, Castlefield Gallery, Manchester (2014); The Infinity Show, NN Northampton (2013); Jerwood Drawing Prize (2010), Superabundant, Turner Contemporary, Margate (2009); Pattern Recognition, Leicester City Art Gallery (2009).

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