Titled “Consumed: Stilled Lives”, the exhibition plays with the traditional concept of still life painting, which grew in popularity in the 16th and 17th centuries. Often featuring silver plates, ornate glassware and expensive foodstuffs such as shellfish and exotic fruit, still life paintings became a fashionable way for the Dutch and Flemish to illustrate their wealth.
Dr Woolley, a research fellow at Leeds Arts University, said: “The term ‘consume’ describes the act of eating as well as purchasing a commodity. The still life table expresses this dual meaning because the objects on display are edible and indicate an individual’s social position.
“I therefore approach the still life table as a portrait of a particular type of consumer. This allows me to view food in a still life as an expression of a relation between an individual and consumer society, and a symbol of the effect commodity consumption has on the consumer’s body.”
And some photographs, such as the Memorials series, are not for the faint-hearted. Dr Woolley added: “Memorials are neither still life nor portrait but represent the subject becoming nature morte. Rotting flesh is arranged among the paraphernalia of celebration, signalling the end of the consumer party.”