CV & contact

Johanna Bolton

Contact: johanna [at]

More work on Instagram: @johanna.bolton

Artist Statement

I work with sculpture, photography, installation and performance. I was once told I have a ‘talent for chaos’. It is a nice backhanded compliment, and probably true. I do find complexity very interesting, and a lot of my art practice seem to be about ways to deal with complexity and attempts to impose order. 

I sometimes use processes borrowed from science to isolate cause and visualise the effect of changing one thing at a time. It leads to a serial process, archives, dealing with multitudes: separating, sieving, stacking, storing.

I have made studies of elastic bands, scrunched up patterns, folds in worn clothes. Why persist in looking at such small everyday things? Is it a kind of feminist scientist movement? Or just a way to say – look, we cannot even fully understand the simplest, most common matter around. As soon as we start really looking at something it expands and reveals itself as unknowable. I was once asked what I found so interesting about elastic band knots, and my answer is that it is because the possible shape variations of this simple loop are practically endless.

At its core it is probably an attempt to experience something as old-fashioned as the sublime. My awe in front of the complexity and chaos of the everyday is enough, I do not need to seek out high cliffs and waterfalls.

In this reflection of the high in the low, from the ridiculous to the sublime, in the unending bathos of everyday life, lies also a knife-edge balancing act between the deadly serious and the seriously funny. The artist, deep in thought, slips on a banana peel and risks falling on her arse. It is interesting to note that Derrida (yes, sorry, but bear with me…) speaks of the moment of moving from play to earnestness as the moment of experiencing the sublime. Which also happens to be the balancing act I am attempting in the studio every day. So, yes, I think chasing the sublime, or at least surprise is a really important element of my practice.

There are many other edges I like to explore in my work. For example, what happens when moving between 2D and 3D, the miraculous increase in complexity when surface becomes a shape. The exciting meeting point when my agency meet the agency of the material I work with and the outcome is unpredictable and precarious. And even more chaotic and full of possibilities is the meeting of bodies when performers interact with my sculptures, adding movement and becoming part of the work.

Selected Exhibitions, Residencies, Performances and Events


‘In Out’, Hive Curates, Stratford, London

Solo Exhibition:‘HUSK!’, Clements & Co, London

‘Material Truths’, Old Parcel Office Art Space, Scarborough


Solo Exhibition: ‘The Fold is the Smallest Unit in a Labyrinth’, Canalside Gallery, London

Residency at Cel del Nord, Orista, Spain

‘The Mother of All’, BOTH Gallery, London

‘Works That Never Came to Life’, curated by Winnie Hall, 3D women!,  Art Hub Studios, London

HUM Micro Gallery, Ottawa, Canada

‘Spaces, Places’ curated by NOHAT, Broadway Gallery, Letchworth Garden City

‘On The Edge’, Exhibition with the London Group of Royal Society of Sculptors, Espacio Gallery, London


Benson Sedgwick 2022 Residency

‘Ingram Prize 2022 Exhibition’, Unit 1 Gallery, London

‘BLUSH’, ASC Gallery, London

‘Gilbert Bayes 2021 Award Exhibition’, Cromwell Place, London and CASC Gallery, University of Chester

‘Meet me Halfway —  On the Line’, Residency and Exhibition at Eastcheap Project Space, Letchworth Garden City


‘The Feuilleton: I Will Bear Witness’, Edicola Spoleto / MACRO in Rome, Italy. Curated by Dr Jo Melvin

‘Conditions Exhibition’, Whitgift Centre, Croydon, London (Reviewed:  Art Monthly no 450, October 2021, “Conditions”, by Jamila Prowse, p.32)

‘This is not a Shop’, Non Place Collective, Bath Fringe Arts Festival

‘Make Something That Makes You Feel Good’, Virtual Reality Private View, LUVA Gallery

Body Building, Small House Gallery, London


Received the 2021Gilbert Bayes Award from Royal Society of Sculptors

Non Place Collective exhibition, Bath Fringe Arts Festival


‘Att komma hem’, Gerlesborgs Konsthall, Sweden (Reviewed: Bohusläningen, 20/6/2019 “Den kreativa bygden i centrum för Sommar-Gerlesborg”; Bohusläningen, 25/6/2019, “Konst utan slut för den som besöker Gerlesborg”)

‘RE:FORM” event for Art Licks, EG-1 Project Space, London

‘Shutters!’, Arebyte Victoria, London

Kelder Gallery Residency (AltMFA), London


Solo Exhibition:‘ARCHIVE: Reimagining the Borough Road Collection’, Borough Road Gallery, London

David Bomberg Collection, Commission and Residency, London South Bank University (April- October 2018)

Koppel Project Gallery Summer Residency, London

‘This Ephemeral Matter’, Bath Fringe Arts Festival, Bath

‘This Might Be The Future’ (AltMFA), Guest Projects, London


Kew Herbarium Residency (November 2017- February 2018)

‘Unknown Futures’ (AltMFA), Guest Projects, London

‘Emergency 2017’, Word of Warning, Manchester

‘Pre-sliced Orange Segments’, Light Eye Mind Gallery, London

‘Word Play’, Forest Gate Arts, London

eYEbAll presents ‘Position 2’, Project Space Wapping, London


‘The Observer Effect’, Hockney Gallery, Royal College of Art

‘The Other’ (RCA Feminist Society), Darwin Galleries, Royal College of Art

‘PREFAB-Lab’, Bath Fringe Arts Festival, Bath

eYEbAll presents ‘Position 1′, Project Space Wapping, London

‘I TWANG’ performance at the Royal Academy, Burlington Gardens Festival

‘Elastic.’ Performative Art Research at the Nunnery Gallery, London

‘Drawing Utopias,’ IKLECTIK Art Lab, London


‘Off the shelf’, IKLECTIK Art Lab, London

‘The Motion of Matter’, The Rum Factory Project Space, London


Chelsea College Degree Show

ING Discerning Eye


2019-2021 Conditions Studio Programme

2016-2019  Alt-MFA

2011-2014 BA Fine Arts, Chelsea College of Art

Press and Publications

‘What I talk about when I talk about my thoughts’, Group Publication and Event at TATE Britain 2012

‘The Study of Elastic Bands in R3 Euclidean Space’, Artist’s book (edition of 50), 2014

‘Circle or Oval?: Concepts, Non-identity and the Lifeworld’, Symposium: Material Others and Other Materialities, Informed Matters, IKLECTIK Labs 2016

Bohusläningen, 20/6/2019 “Den kreativa bygden i centrum för Sommar-Gerlesborg”,

Bohusläningen, 25/6/2019, “Konst utan slut för den som besöker Gerlesborg”

Art Monthly no 450, October 2021, “Conditions”, by Jamila Prowse, p.32

Soanyway Magazine Vol.2 Issue 13, September 2022, “A material record of walking”

Axess Magazine, no 7, October 2022 “Granens estetik och den svenska folksjälen”, by Cecilia Nikpay, p.24

Awards & Scholarships

2022 Shortlisted for Ingram Prize

2022 Benson Sedgwick Residency (admin. by Royal Society of Sculptors)

2021 Gilbert Bayes Award

2021 Shortlisted for Bloomberg New Contemporaries

2014 Shortlisted for the ACME studio award

2013 Shortlisted for the Mead Scholarship

Art works held in UAL Collection, and private collections

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