research student

Francesca Steele

Postgraduate Research Student

Francesca doing interpretive dance


College of Arts, Humanities and Education

Research centre

Digital and Material Artistic Research Centre



This start of this work began over 10 years ago in 2008. Profoundly inspired by both Kathy Acker’s own bodybuilding practice and her question “Is the relationship between destruction and growth also a formula for Art?” (1993, p23). My artistic practice engaged with bodybuilding specifically as a daily performance strategy but also as an activity that denotes my body ‘working material’. I have had two main periods of exploration, the initial period of competitive bodybuilding between 2008-2012 and more recent active reflective from 2019 to present.

Within this current phase, I aim to shift bodybuilding from an artistic practice to a research methodology incorporating a written process (first response and generative writing) in tandem with the physical and consequential changes within the body. These combined re-workings intend to reframe the body’s potential as a way into a sentient archive of ephemeral, Live Art, and performance artwork. 

Having exhibited throughout the UK and internationally, my work has featured on internet sites such as ‘girls with muscle’ and persists outside the tradition of the gallery space.

Thesis title 

Body as Document