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 aesthetics and 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).
Her long-term research is feminist-revisionist, focusing on women’s participation in surrealism and how their legacies are manifest in contemporary practice. She is currently especially interested in Leonora Carrington and contemporary art, and why Carrington is providing such a productive site for feminist investigations into the marvellous.
Catriona is also interested in forms of literary curating (and Mieke Bal’s notion of “theoretical fiction”) having interviewed Kate Bernheimer, Chloe Aridjis and Heidi Sopinka about their novel writing and curatorial practices.
Subsidiary interests include the “archaeology of modernism,” and women in the history of science.
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 with many contemporary artists, including: Tessa Farmer, Rachel Maclean, Samantha Sweeting, Nicola Dale, Fritha Jenkins, Laurence Figgis, Michelle Williams Gamaker, Lucy Skaer, and Ilana Halperin, among others.
Catriona 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.