School of the Arts, English and Drama

Postgraduate research

Louisa Parker

Photo of  Louisa Parker

PhD Student

Louisa holds a BA Hons (class 1) in Fine Art and an MFA (Master of Fine Art) After graduating in 2004 she worked as an artist, lecturer and project manager. Before graduating she worked in music, theatre and community arts. She specializes in drawing and has current research interests in feminism, comics, sound and oral history. Previous work has included performances and installations that revolve around sound, art works in book form, and large scale drawing.

She was awarded a full-funded research studentship from Loughborough University School of the Arts, undertaking a PhD from October 2012, expected to complete in 2015.

Thesis Title:

Small Stories: Comics, Oral History and Women’s Lives 

Research question.

How does making comics based on spoken testimony create space for the examination of women’s lives?

The research aims to create material in graphic form using oral histories kept in archives as a source.

The Artist As Sojourner: The value of visual practice in making a space for feminism.

The problem of women’s spaces – as proposed by Virginia Woolf in 1929 – has been investigated by feminist theorists and practitioners for almost a century at the time of writing, but has rarely been approached from the point of view of a creative practitioner using those spaces. For the Small Stories project, the artist/researcher, a creative sojourner, seeks a propagative use for the mass of information that has been accumulated by feminists in the last 100 years. The state of women’s spaces in the UK can only be said to have improved since Woolf demanded them in 1928. This thesis describes an investigation into some of that space and an exploration of an artistic strategy towards the accessible dissemination of politically important historical material.

The main part of the research is based around a studio practice in which drawn responses were made to three of the oral histories that the author found in women’s archives. Each of the three stories describes a life that began around the end of the Second World War, a generation that lived through radical changes to the lives of women in Britain, thanks to institutional and regulatory changes at the macro level. These transformations have impacted the lives of women in subsequent generations but through familiarity and custom, go unnoticed and unremarked for much of the time. As significant as these changes are, the work of this project is to focus on the details of women’s lives, the micro, those points of puncture and connection that allow stories to become empathetic vehicles for understanding. Herein lies the answer to Woolf’s other vexed question - what did our mothers leave us? In place of the centuries of accumulated wealth and property bequeathed by fathers, those networks of privilege and power, our mothers left us their lived experience and their stories, and there is much to be learned from them, if only we will listen.



Dr Marion Arnold and Prof Marsha Meskimmon

Tracey Drawing Symposium, Loughborough University, 2015.

Durham University & University of Leeds. Creative Approaches to Story Telling as Research. 2015.

International Bande Dessinée Society (IBDS) 2015, Paris, University of London in Paris.

Comics Studies Network Symposium. 2015. University of Sussex.

Drawing Research Network (DRN) Post Graduate event. 2015. Coventry University.

Geographies and Identities Symposium, Loughborough University, 2015.

Comics Forum. Leeds Central Library, Leeds. 2014.

Comics Studies Network Symposium. University of the Arts London, 2014.

Comics Forum. 2013. Leeds Central Library, Leeds.

Exploring the Edge of Trauma. 2010. Kingston University London.

The Voice and Nothing More. 2009. Slade School of Fine Art Research Centre, UCL, London,



Round, J., Ed. 2015. Voyages Sketchbook, Bournemouth: Bournemouth University

Stewart, K., Ed. 2015, Bad Dreams and Nightmares, London: K. Stewart & Avery Hill

Harty, D., Ed. 2015. DRN Postgraduate Event 2014 Proceedings. Online: Drawing Research Network

Clark, J. & Harvey, K., Eds. 2014. The History of Bank Street. Sheffield: Bank St Arts Editions

Sawdon, P. & Meskimmon, M., Eds. 2014. Wonder. Stimulus Respond: online journal.

Linder, E and Joshi, K. eds. 2013. The Strumpet: A Transatlantic Feast of Tastiness. New York & London: Strumpet



Comix Creatrix, House of Illustration, London, Feb 2016

6767 DRAW bridge, Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, Singapore, May 2014 

Leeds International Artists Book Fair, The Tetley, Leeds, March 2014

Sheffield International Artists Book Prize show, October 2013

Blenheim Walk Gallery, Leeds, Solo show, March 2013

The Big Draw, Leeds Art Gallery, October 2012

Microcosm, Departure Foundation, Leeds, June/July 2012

Bank Street Arts, Sheffield, Nimbostratus, Collaborative performance with Phill Harding, April 2012

Bank Street Arts, Gallery 1, Grey Area, Solo show, Sheffield,  February 2012

Bank Street Arts, Gallery 2, Untitled wall drawing, Sheffield, October 2011

Woman Made Gallery, Chicago, Underground, July 2011

University of Leeds, 13th International Artists Book Fair, March 2011 

Home From Home, University of Leeds, Artists Book, Leeds, March 2011

Leeds College of Art, Artists Books and Performance, Leeds, January 2011 

Light Night Leeds 2010, Cairn, Installation, multiple sites in Central Leeds, October 2010 

Bank Street Arts, Sheffield, 2nd Annual Artists Book Prize Show, 2009

Light Night Leeds 2009, Leeds Town Hall Clock Tower, Leeds.  I am not asking for Forgiveness, sound work, October 2009

Light Night Leeds 2008, Leeds Town Hall Victorian jail cells, Leeds.  The Unquiet Grave, sound work, October 2008

Leeds Met Gallery Theatre, Perambulator, live performance, New Work Yorkshire, November 2007

Yorkshire Craft Centre, Bradford, Intersection, commissioned by VIBE, supported by Arts Council England. September 2000