Home » Develop Your Creative Practice – Taking Space

Develop Your Creative Practice – Taking Space

This page is dedicated to my Develop Your Creative Practice work funded by Arts Council England.  This opportunity enabled me to explore and experiment with creating a series of concept photos around the lived experience of Dwarfism.

The outcome of the photoshoot is a series of works.  Reflecting on the finished pieces, I realised the strongest photos and the main theme to emerge was freedom.  Freedom as a creative to explore Dwarfism and photography.  The freedom you can see represented by Alice literally taking space in a creative setting that historically objectifies Dwarfism. The freedom to explore perspectives that are not seen in mainstream gallery walls.

Taking Space – Installation

Every day, people with Dwarfism face being objectified by one of the most recent technological advances –  the mobile phone.

The aim of this piece is three-fold. Firstly, a Dwarf person controls what photos are shown on the phones’.

Secondly, the gallery viewer walks amongst these ‘phones’ to experience Alice’s freedom of what is shared on the phone rather than being the object.

Finally, the opaque mirrored backs of the phones place the gallery viewer in the same situation many Dwarf people find themselves in daily, asking them – for a fleeting moment, how they would feel becoming the object of curiosity?

Collage of images show mini photos of performance artist, Alice Lambert, that have a mobile phone frame and have been hung haphazardly in front of white fabric backdrop. Photo © 2024 - Steph Robson as part of Taking Space - Develop Your Creative Practice funded by Arts Council England.

Taking Space – moving image

These animations explore motion and freedom in the cultural setting for Alice and, as a photographer, both of us from the Dwarfism community.

People with Dwarfism are often labelled with derogative terms towards their disability.  These videos intend to show performance artist Alice Lambert taking space.

The labels are of Alice’s choice and that she attributes to her self and identity.

This act of labelling herself (rather than being labelled) is recorded in a manner that is sensitive to the cultural and societal objectification the Dwarfism community experiences.

The labels you see were written by the artist on a t-shirt from the photoshoot in October 2022.


The Stare

The Dwarfism community experiences staring and objectification daily.

We can often feel when non-disabled people are looking.

Our bodies are objectified with the looker’s gaze.

Here is the reaction of the Dwarf person being stared at. The photos aim to reflect the fleeting emotions of the performance artist whilst being stared at, rather than through the objectifier’s eye (usually a mobile phone in c21st).


Tools: CapCut


Taking Space was an opportunity to explore and experiment with the creation of a series of concept photos around the lived experiences of Dwarfism.

The photoshoot took place at the John Marley Centre in Newcastle in October 2022 .

Various black and white photos of performance artist, Alice Lambert, arranged artistically on a cream coloured wall. All rights reserved © 2024 Steph Robson

Historically, people with Dwarfism have been objectified in arts and cultural settings. Seen as pets or objects of mirth or fantasy. What developed through these photos was the sense of freedom Alice is given and takes in an arts and cultural setting.

Note, to the top of the overall exhibition wall layout, the photo that states, “I cannot ignore this”. Showing how, despite the freedom of expression this opportunity provided both Alice and myself as creative, the underlying theme of oppression (which inspired the application in the first place) lingers is a nod to the discrimination and objectification the Dwarfism community faces whilst going about everyday life.

Various black and white photos of performance artist, Alice Lambert, arranged artistically on a cream coloured wall. All rights reserved © 2024 Steph Robson


I want to thank the following people for their support:

  • Thanks to Arts Council England for the Develop Your Creative Practice award.
  • Alice Lambert – for her outstanding professionalism and trusting me to photograph her.
  • Jo Verrent – for her amazing guidance through the process and encouragement to continue this practice
  • Lizzie Coombes– who taught me how to see the visual language of photos and reflect on the process and being incredibly supportive.
  • Kev Howard – for teaching me the basics of photography and for his guidance and insight into his amazing life stories at the photoshoot.
  • Jo Howard – an amazing photographic artist whose invaluable insight helped me gain confidence again in this project and showed me how instrumental playing about with light and kit makes this work fun.
  • Caroline Pearce – a fantastic coach who helped me focus and gain confidence in this project again after the long recovery from pneumonia and burnout.
  • Laura Brewis – for the encouragement and support with the application in the first place – I wouldn’t have had the confidence to do otherwise.
  • Anna Disley at New Writing North for supporting my application.
  • Last but certainly not least, my husband, Stewart, and daughter, Isabelle, thank you for all their love, support, tea making, chocolate giving, and shoulder to cry and lean on. You both helped me through two very challenging years – in life and work. I love you both.

This project took place from June 2022 – January 2024.

This work was funded by Arts Council England Develop Your Creative Practice Award.