Lisa Watts

About the artist – Lisa Watts

'an artist with the courage to present simple yet powerful images and whose every gesture carries conviction' — Performance Magazine (1990)

'(she) continues to explore issues of perception and reality, as well as, aspects of individual physicality under pressure' — The Herald (2001)

'As ironic and wryly amusing as this is, Watts stages and performs her pieces with a sensitive and professional control that imbues them with depth. Uncertainties of emotional and bodily self-image are worked to form rituals of self-confidence' — Guardian (2001)

In this research Skittish my art involves actions that entail the conversion of everyday objects and materials into magical events. These performances take place in galleries and they are curated in partnership with sculpture which is of similar artistic concerns and processes to the live actions.


She performed Breadmaking, 1990, at the National Review of Live Art, Glasgow and it was reviewed as was one of the best performances of the festival.

In 1992 she became an artist in residence at Feren's Gallery, Hull, for three months, full time.

She then went on to show performance work such as I Never Made It as a Sex Kitten, 1993, at Serpentine gallery, London, Bluecoat Gallery, Liverpool, The Root Festival, Hull Timed Based Arts, Hull, Tramway, Glasgow, Prema Arts Centre, Gloucestershire, The Greenroom, Manchester.

In 1992 she was commissioned to present Grassmonsters in Dublin, Ireland, Hamburg, Germany.

Her film Bun, 1997, made collaboratively with Sussanah Gent, has been a great success and been shown globally including Eat my shorts film festival – Canada, Bombay – India, Mexico, and it has been broadcast in Europe such as Spain, Italy and France.

Channel 4 made a short documentary about her digital photographic work, titled Muscles, 1998, that was made collaboratively with artist Clare Charnley. Muscles was also exhibited at City Gallery, Leeds.

Her Arts Council of England funded touring exhibition titled More Funny Feelings, 2001, which was two performances and a video installation was toured throughout the U.K. The total sum of money raised by Watts for this tour was £27,000.

She was awarded a Shooting Live Artists award, which was financially supported by the Arts Council of England, the BBC and Saatchi and Saatchi's advertising agency to make, Escape Mechanism, 2001, which is a collaboration with artist Brian McClave. Watts learnt an old Houdini act that they then stereoscopically videoed.

In 2004, she was commissioned by National Review of Live Art to make a new work, Oh, au naturel, 2004, which was performed in Glasgow, and Sofia, Bulgaria.

Also in 2004 she was appointed to a residency by Hull Time Based Arts at Interspace, Sofia, Bulgaria where she began the creation of a new work Bad Luck, 2006, which was made in collaboration with Alice Maude-Roxby which resulted in an installation along with sound by Ron Wright.

In 2004 she was commissioned to make a new performance, Abandoned, which toured around Britain including London, Brighton, Bradford and Scotland and France, and Austria.

In 2008 she presented a triptych of two performances and one video, sculpture installation titled, Playout, at Site Gallery, Sheffield.

In May 2010 she was in residence at the Site Gallery, Sheffield, whereby she produced a sculptural installation with live action titled Gummy.

In 2011 she graduated from The University of Edinburgh with a PhD in Fine Art. For this PhD she won a scholarship that was advertised nationally to provide a living grant for her during her PhD studies.

In 2012 she was awarded a Research and Development grant by the Arts Council of England to research new work and a touring project.

Exhibitions, Film Showings, Performances and Artists’ books:

(1990) National Review of Live Art – Glasgow – Breadmaking
(1992) Irish Arts Council funded event organised by Ann Seagrave – Dublin – Ireland – Breadmaking and Grassmonsters
(1993) Feren’s Gallery residency commission – Hull – I Never Made it as a Sex Kitten
(1993) Serpentine gallery – London – I Never Made It as a Sex Kitten
(1993) Prema Arts Centre – Gloucestershire – I Never Made it as a Sex Kitten
(1994) Nottingham Castle – Nottingham – Arts Council of England Commission – Pasty
(1994) Rothervalley Country Park Festival, Sheffield – Grassmonsters *
(1994) Rotherham Art Centre – Rotherham – *Breadmaking

(1994) Bluecoat Gallery – Liverpool – Sex Kitten
(1994) The Greenroom – Manchester – Sex Kitten
(1995) Birmingham largest allotment festival – Grassmonsters
(1995) Hamburg – Germany – Hull Timed Based Arts commission – Fantasies
(1995) Hamburg – Germany – Grassmonsters
(1996) Feren’s Art Gallery commission – Hull Botanical Gardens –– Jim’ll Fix it
(1996) Nottingham Festival – Nottingham Arboretum – Jim’ll Fix it
(1997 – 2000) Bun – Lottery Funded – a 16mm short film made collaboratively with Sussanah Gent.
Eat my shorts film festival, Canada – Bun
India – Bun
Mexico – Bun
Switzerland – Bun
Spain – Bun
Italy – Bun
France – Bun
(1997) NHS Tonic, public art commission – The Boardroom
(1998) NHS Tonic, public art commission – The Garden
(1998) City Art Gallery – Leeds – commission — Muscles – a collaboration with Clare Charnley.
(2000) Site Gallery – Sheffield – Pitch bendRunning Machine
(2000) University of Leeds – Sheffield – Running Machine
(2001) Ferens Gallery – Hull – Running Machine
(2001) City Art Gallery – Leeds – Arts Council of England tour – More Funny FeelingsCryCrying SportRunning Machine
(2001) Tramway Arts Centre – Glasgow – More Funny Feelings – CryCrying SportRunning Machine
(2001) Colchester Arts Centre – Colchester – More Funny Feelings – CryCrying SportRunning Machine
(2001) BBC website – commissioned by BBC & Saatchi Saatchi – Escape Mechanism – a collaboration with Brian McClave.
(2001) Bastard TV exhibition – Sheffield – Escape Mechanism
(2001) BBC website – online commissions – Escape Mechanism
(2001) Impressions Gallery – York – Escape Mechanism
(2002) Newcastle University – Running Machine and Bun
(2004) National Review of Live Art – Glasgow – commission – Oh au Naturel
(2004) Arts Council of England funded – Published artist’s book – 32 Significant Moments: an artist’s practice as research *
(2004) The Root Festival, Hull Timed Based Arts – Hull – *Oh au Naturel

(2004) Interspace, Sofia – Bulgaria – Oh au Naturel
(2004) Bradford International Festival – Bradford – Mischief La-Bas commission – Abandoned
(2004) Big in Falkirk, Falkirk – Scotland – Abandoned
(2004) Viva Cite, Sotteville-les-Rouen – France – Abandoned
(2004) La Strada, Graz – Austria – Abandoned
(2004) Brighton Festival – Brighton – Abandoned
(2004) Spotlight, Camden – London – Abandoned
(2004 – 2010) Nottingham Trent University and University of Edinburgh scholarship – PhD in Fine Art with scholarship
(2006) Interspace, Sofia, Bulgaria – a collaboration with Alice Maude-Roxby sound by Ron Wright – Bad Luck
(2008) Site Gallery – Sheffield – Book of G
(2015) Spacex gallery – Exeter – Skittish
(2015) Vane Gallery – Newcastle – Arts Council of England tour – SkittishSnowgumBad Luck
(2015) The Tetley – Leeds – SkittishSnowgumBadluck
(2017) SIA gallery – Sheffield – SkittishSnowgumBadluck
(2017) Castlefield Gallery – Manchester – Arts Council of England tour – Not a Decorator
(2018) John Hansard Gallery – Southampton – Not a Decorator….
(2018) Arts Council of England funded – Published artist’s book – 429 Significant Moments: Documenting an Artist’s Research and Processes
(2019) UHArts, School of Creative Arts – Decorating