Stella Whalley’s art practice has been dedicated to the exploration of drawing,printmaking, digital embroidery and photography. Taking references from history of art and contemporary culture she reformulates them by using herself as the protagonist. Her works investigate how gender is culturally constructed and uncovers a rich source of insights into the self and our relationship to the world.
Whalley has developed and refined her highly individual approach over the course of numerous exhibitions and residencies. Most recently she has produced site-specific installations with yarn and sound in a three story atrium at the Wilson Gallery Cheltenham , a black curve across the Palace gates at Palazzo Ducale , Atina ,Italy, outdoor installations at Ginestrelle artist residency Assisi, Italy, and at Yumoto House for the Nakanojo Contemporary Art Biennale 2015 Japan
TOKYO TALES was launched at the Whitechapel Gallery London in 2007.
Tokyo Tales is a highly-personal artist’s book based on a residency in Japan. In the book, I travel to the dark heart of a complex society, where women dress as men to chaperone women, where gangsters loiter on street corners framed against a backdrop of the most futuristic, complex, high ordered but chaotic city in the world. Manga, porn anime and the traditional world of the Geisha and Samurai collide in a unique collection of drawings, photographs, screen prints and paintings that is Tokyo Tales. The book is available in two editions: a special artist edition with beautiful personalised silk covers or flocked Japanese patterns, and a bookshop edition with silver foiled faux- silk covers.
Special Artist edition £25 or £12 standard
By Stella Whalley London, England: Sugar Pink, 1999. 23 x 24 cm”; 24 pages.
Marie Anne Mancio, (essay from bodysnatchers): “[Stella Whalley’s work] takes the form of the photographic print from performance, drawings etchings and embroideries of solitary personae in diverse settings – bedroom, clinic, bathroom, church.
Whalley ‘stars’ in all the photographs herself so that, despite the apparent veracity of the scenarios, they are exposed as fictional constructs. This is particularly interesting in light of the subjects the photographs address – medicine, porn, religion – areas with a history of theatricality, of fiction posing as reality. Thus the viewer is invited to question the nature of representation in other contexts also – from the photographs in medical journals or textbooks to the centrefolds of pornographic magazines. “Obviously, there is also a feminist statement inherent in Whalley’s act of taking such control over the image: setting it up, performing it, photographing it, manipulating it, determining its display.”
‘There is the naked woman in a bath chair (‘Chair lift’), who is trapped between unseen voyeurs, us as viewers behind her, an open window in front. And these highlight how the body is deprived of privacy in medical institutions.’
Marie Anne Mancio, (essay from bodysnatchers):
Stella Whalley: “It was some time in 1998 that I started working with self portraits. I found myself in a moment of contemplation, where I wanted to go back in time, trying to relate my thoughts to what kind of person I was as a child. At the same time somebody lent me some studio lights which meant that I could photograph myself as those characters of me as a child, re-enacting some of the experiences I had. The fact that I could use the studio lights in the privacy of my own home, meant that I could play with performance and role playing without feeling I was doing it in front of an audience. There is a difference in doing it in front of a camera just to yourself, you control the camera and the whole set up”.