Heidi Wigmore Artist

London, UK

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My practice is drawing-based; the impulse of the work is to challenge, resist and critique societal perceptions of female experience. I use drawing for its directness and immediacy; for me, drawing is always ‘live’. Alongside studio-based works on paper and canvas, my drawing extends to installations, banners and billboards as public artworks to function as provocations.

My work has long explored the idea of bringing woman ‘centre-stage’ to depict her as protagonist, to hold her own space.  Through my juxtapositions of historical and cultural references, I have been developing a hybrid, global visual language of the female figure over many years, it ‘is the most profound and complex conceptual symbol, a hieroglyph of gesture and of body language.’ Nancy Spero. Autonomous female figures have always been prominent in my work, often in relation to tightly organized architectonic forms: mappings, geometries, structures. These complex arrangements and inter-relationships demand careful planning, composition and construction, making use of found images/appropriations from art histories, prehistory, world cultures and the esoteric to create hybrid forms. My imagination is inexhaustible when dealing with the figure.

I often return to drawing from life to re-energize my practice: I have had privileged access to dancers at English National Ballet as well as strippers, pole dancers and Shibari performers – I make use of their ritualized ‘codified’ gestures, strong poses and their self-confident physicalities in my work. In the recent 15m long canvas ‘the State of Her’ the past and the present are inextricably woven via a cinematic splicing together of these figures; I choreograph and stage them to demand attention with all their strictures, trappings and codes of ‘femininity’ – they display gestures of freedom or expansiveness to assert their autonomy. ‘To move freely with energy in the world is an extraordinary ideal. Women should have this room for possibility.’ Nancy Spero

In stark contrast, I often use images of the inert doll or mannequin as a metaphor for alienation and/or control – these objects are silently compliant but exert a vital presence in my work. They may also function as secular ‘i-dols’ – in that they are lifelike, yet lifeless, realistic yet unreal. I grew up with a fascination for the Germanic ‘Romantic Grotesque’ with its tradition of dolls as human substitutes in the literary imagination. I also explore the illusory aspects of drawing and the phenomenology of symbolic objects of the feminine by working directly on to found objects, including spoons, shoes and gloves. These transformations develop a ‘sacred’ quality as personal relics. I’m interested in how drawing may activate the object, how the lifeless can seem to be made ‘live’, how drawing is a direct line to the unconscious – I am a Surrealist at heart.

As a woman ages she is rendered invisible. What does that mean for a woman artist? I strive for my work to be visible; if it remains unseen it becomes too interiorized, it becomes less of a communication with the world.

Public art commissions include ‘Procession’ 2018 (14-18 Now), ‘Mind Control Tower’ for Estuary 2016, ‘Independent Free State’ billboard as part of the cultural Olympiad 2012 and artist beach huts for the 60th anniversary of the Festival of Britain at the Southbank Centre 2011. I have facilitated a number of public art events and banner workshops where I exploit the transformative potential of the drawn image in outdoor space for its performative and participatory possibilities.

I have over 25 years experience as a Fine Art educator, informed by the diversity of my role as a freelance artist. I have led projects and workshops for The Royal Academy, The British Museum, Whitstable Biennial, Tate, The Turner Prize, Artichoke, Ferens Art Gallery, Manchester Art Gallery, Focal Point Gallery, Firstsite and Metal Culture. I am currently artist workshop leader with English National Ballet and course leader Developing Art Practice and Foundation Fine Art pathway leader at The City Lit.

I’m interested in risk and resourcefulness, trajectories rather than arrivals: a spirit of endeavour permeates my work and my life. I am well-travelled, having made a number of long term solo trips through Asia and Central America and have lived and worked in France, The Virgin Islands and Taiwan. I have documented these experiences in two books: ‘Skin, Ribs and Hips’ and ‘Wanderlust: a Travel Sketchbook’.

My mantra: DARE TO BE FREE


2001 University of East London: MA Fine Art
1998 University of Greenwich: PGCE
1985 Norwich School of Art: BA hons Graphics (Drawing/Printmaking)


2023 Rite of Spring: banner installation Old Market Cross North Walsham Norfolk

Totems of Hope: Banner installation at Prittlewell Priory Southend-on-Sea

2022 Her Discontents: Group show Downstairs Brixton 

Dreamhaus: Public film screening Focal Point Gallery

2021 Women Making History: Suffragette Banners London Scottish House Westminster

2019 British Textile Biennale: Suffragette Banners
The Ghost Tide: Thames-Side Gallery
Rethinking the Menopause: ARB Cambridge University
Things: Tamara Projects 310 New Cross Road
Procession Suffragette Banners: Spill Festival
Dummy: Artist Residency METAL
Histories of the Hoo Peninsula: Whitstable Biennial
Turner Prize Drawing Workshop: Ferens Gallery Hull
Lines of Thought: Artist workshops British Museum, University of Hull
Something Blue: Cultivate Gallery
Platform 15: Leydon Gallery
Mind Control Tower: Installation Estuary Festival Commission
The Dance Within Us: Live Drawing Workshop Tate Liverpool, ENB
Anti-Fashionistas: Installation and drawing event Village Green Festival METAL
The Big Painting Challenge: Specialist contributor BBC (broadcast 15/3/2015)
Changing Room: Solo show Shout Media
Draw 14: Society of Graphic Fine Art Mernier Gallery
The Discerning Eye: The Mall Galleries
The Contortionists: Installation Village Green Festival
On the Line: METAL
What the Doll Saw: Installation TAP Gallery
Look the Doll in the Eye: Essex Arts Grant
LifeCycle: Participatory project funded by European Cycling Friendly Cities
Play Southend: Drawing digital game project, contributing artist
Switch Ideas Lab Pacitti Company: Participating artist
INDEPENDENT FREE STATE: Arts Council England Award
CultureLab Protest and Propaganda:
Participating artist Metal
Artist Residency:
British Virgin Islands
End of Term Festival: Project Manager/Curator
Festival of Britain 60th Anniversary: 
Customised Beach Huts Commissioned Artist Southbank Centre 
WOW Festival ‘Superstrumps’:
Female stereotypes project Southbank Centre 
Womans Hour Radio 4 ‘Superstrumps’: 
live launch 13.3.11
This is Not a School: ‘Glittering Prize and Punishment’ Five Years
The Real Strumps Solo Show: White Wall Space
Deconstruction Project: Homeless Gallery
Neopolitan Festival of Britain: Southbank Centre
Pier: AVA Gallery University of East London
Showflat: The von Heil Haus Commission METAL
Cover Versions:
Village Green Festival METAL
Drawing performance Five Years
Artist Curator Group show Synchro Studios Leigh-on-Sea
Subject to Recall:
Curator Site specific group show – Southend Museum
Lecture Hall FREE SCHOOL: Five Years Gallery
Making it/Faking it: Orleans House Gallery
Cliffhanger: Synchro Studio Leigh-on-Sea
Assessment Criterion: Campus Gallery South Essex College
15 Artists 15 Days: Firstsite
As Crows Fly: Coexist Gallery
Sideshow: Village Green Festival METAL
2008 Love: Faux Gallery
Project Lulu: METAL
2005 Line: Campus Gallery South Essex College
2004 Its a Beautiful Noise: Synchro Studios
2003 A Room with a View: Atelier Gallery
2001 Last Chance Saloon: East London Gallery
2000 Blush: Underwood St Gallery
1999 On the Shelf: Firstsite
1998 Studio in a Square: Firstsite
1992 Pullit 2: Camden Lock
1990-92 Cooltan
1988-92 Cable St Studios
1989 Portobello Open
1988 ‘Earth Songs’ Young Unknowns


2020 Evening Standard ‘Women Making History’ book publication
Curatorspace ‘Lockdown Series’
2018 GHostings.co.uk
The Guardian: Suffragette Artist Banners
2017 Scenario: Collaborators and Hecklers – Performative Pedagogy and Interruptive Processes
2016 Review of ‘Mind Control Tower’ Estuary Festival Vice.com
2013 Interview re Superstrumps ’Imaginations’ – Journal of Cross Cultural Image Studies
The Guardian 11.7.13 On the Line: Creating a museum of the Thames Estuary
2012 This is Not a School: Five Years Gallery http://www.fiveyears.org.uk/thisisnotaschool/THIS%20IS%20NOT%20A%20SCHOOL/PROGRAMME/slots/14/14.html
2011 Womans Hour Radio 4 ‘Superstrumps’ live launch 13.3.11
Showflat: Metal Book Edition
The Times Art/Architecture Supplement 23.4.11
The Sabotage Times: April 2011
Oh Comely Magazine: May 2011
a-n Magazine: May issue Review- Scintilla, Coexist Gallery
Level 4 Magazine: Review- Showflat solo show
2010 Level 4 Magazine: Interview- Showflat solo show
Corporeal: Catalogue introduction Campus Gallery Southend in Sea
15 Artists 15 Days: Documentation of residency First Site Colchester
2008 DIY Portfolio Building for Fine Art: University of Essex/The Creative Way
The Guardian Weekend: creative writing commission
2007 ARTUNEED: A Manifesto for the Public Realm- Bob and Roberta Smith, Commissions East


2021 Arts Council England Developing Your Artistic Practice Grant: ‘Totems of Hope’

REP 12 Ltd Lord of Misrule set artwork

Sid Gentle Films Ltd  ‘Ragdoll’ set artwork

2018 Mainstreet Pictures BBC ‘Goldigger’ set artwork
Artichoke, 14-18 Now Artist Commission Procession Suffragette Banners
2016 Estuary Festival Artist Commission Mind Control Tower multi-media installation
2014 Outdoor Media Ltd Sponsorship ‘The Contortionists’ Village Green Festival
2013 METAL Artist Commission ‘On the Line’
2013 Essex County Council Artist Grant ‘What The Doll Saw’
2012 Arts Council England ‘Independent Free State’
2012 BBC  ‘Eastenders’ and CBBS ‘Get Well Soon’ set artwork
2011 Southbank Centre WOW Festival Commission ‘Superstrumps’
2011  Southbank Centre Festival of Britain Commission Shell Grotto
2010  Artinsite Permanent lightbox installation Southend University Hospital Oncology Dept
2007-2010  Redbee Media BBC  set artwork


2019- 20 The Royal Academy: Artist Workshop Leader
2015-current The City Lit: Coordinator Fine Art, Course Leader Developing Art Practice, Foundation Fine Art pathway leader,
2016-17 Whitstable Biennale: Histories of the Hoo Peninsula Artist Project manager
2016 Estuary Festival: Sound of the Thames Delta: Project manager
2012-current English National Ballet: Artist workshop leader
2012-2016 Anglia Ruskin University: Visiting Drawing Lecturer
2012-2017Arts Council England: Artistic Quality Assessor
2011-current METAL: Artist Workshop Leader
2011METAL: ’End of Term’ Arts Festival: Project Manager
2001-10South Essex College: Course Leader/Lecturer BA hons Fine Art,
Foundation Diploma
2004-11  Focal Point Gallery: Artist workshop leader
2004-05  HMP Bullwood Hall: Artist workshop leader
2000 -current Synchro Studios: Co-founder, Chairperson