Dr Catriona McAra is University Curator at Leeds Arts University. She was awarded her doctorate in History of Art at the University of Glasgow, followed by a postdoctoral fellowship at the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities (IASH) at the University of Edinburgh.

She has published extensively on the art and literature of Dorothea Tanning and Leonora Carrington with a particular interest in feminist-surrealist legacies in contemporary practice. She is author of A Surrealist Stratigraphy of Dorothea Tanning’s Chasm (Routledge, 2017), and co-editor with Jonathan P. Eburne of Leonora Carrington and the International Avant-Garde (Manchester University Press, 2017). She is currently working on her second book, a study of Leonora Carrington’s significance in contemporary art, literature and performance, with a third book forthcoming on Kate Bernheimer.

Another key interest is the curiosities revival and artists who engage with science and the museological. Having published widely on the entomological art of Tessa Farmer, Catriona is currently editing a volume on the geological aesthetics of Ilana Halperin (Strange Attractor Press and MIT, 2021).

Catriona is also interested in forms of literary curating (Mieke Bal’s notion of “theoretical fiction” and Michelle Williams Gamaker’s “fictional activism”) having interviewed Kate Bernheimer, Chloe Aridjis and Heidi Sopinka about their novel writing and curatorial practices.

In 2019, Catriona opened the new university gallery at Leeds Arts University with an exhibition of Yoko Ono (celebrating the artist’s 1966 visit). Catriona works closely, in a curatorial capacity, with numerous contemporary artists including: Kate MccGwire, Su Blackwell, Tessa Farmer, Samantha Sweeting, Nicola Dale, Fritha Jenkins, Laurence Figgis, Michelle Williams Gamaker, Lucy Skaer, and Ilana Halperin, among others.

Catriona has curated internationally including 31 Women at Sedona Arts Center (2020), and has written a range of catalogue essays for commercial galleries and public museums, including: Dorothea Tanning: Unknown but Knowable States, Gallery Wendi Norris, San Francisco (2013), and Flora Yukhnovich: Sweet Spot at Parafin, London (2019).

Catriona has lectured at the Universities of Glasgow, Edinburgh, and at The Glasgow School of Art, and given talks internationally, including Tate, the National Galleries of Scotland, and Biblioteca Nacional de México.

Academic Positions

University Curator, Leeds Arts University (2015-20)

Post-Doctoral Fellow, IASH, University of Edinburgh (2013-14)

Research Fellow, University of Huddersfield (2011-13)


PhD in History of Art, University of Glasgow (2008-12)

MLitt with Distinction in History of Art, University of Glasgow (2007-08)

MA Hons. First Class in History of Art, University of Glasgow (2003-07)


Westfjords, Iceland  (February 2020).


R. Ashenden and M. Gilroy, ‘Rebellion is My Bloodline!’ The Debutante (January 2020).

H. Keegan, ‘The dark, intriguing legacy of surrealist artist Dorothea Tanning,’ The Stylist (March 2019).


31 WomenSedona Arts Center (3-26 January 2020).

FUAM Graduate Art Prize 2019, University of Leeds (June 2019).

Editorial Boards

International Journal of Surrealism (IJS) (2020-2023)

So Anyway (2018-)

ASAP/J (2016-)

Photo courtesy of Professor Roger Shannon, Edge Hill University.