Visualising Utopia: Dr Zoe Tongue and Herfa Martina Thompson secure further funding for their creative partnership

Dr Tongue and her collaborator, visual artist Herfa Martina Thompson, have been selected for the Leeds Creative Labs Follow on Fund.

The fund is a partnership between East Street Arts and the University of Leeds’ Cultural Institute.

Dr Tongue specialises in feminist legal theory, abortion, and reproductive rights, and her research uses feminist science fiction as a powerful tool for envisioning better futures for women and pregnant people.

Her collaborator, Herfa Martina Thompson, is a visual artist with a passion for drawing black women’s bodies. Together, they imagine utopian futures around reproductive technology and rights.

The two first worked together as part of Leeds Creative Labs, which aims to match researchers with creative professionals to foster collaborations based on exploration and open-endedness, without the pressure of delivering against targets. The Cultural Institute says of this initiative:

Open-ended collaborations have the power to foster cross-disciplinary exchange and synergy, bringing together diverse perspectives, methodologies and approaches.

Their original award was for the project: 'Exploring Law, Reproductive Rights, and Artistic Representations'. The Follow On Fund enables them to continue their partnership.

Dr Tongue says:

Through our project, we want to break down some of the stigma and silence around reproductive health by using visual art to have these important conversations. We have been creating work exploring pregnancy, abortion, and reproductive health illness, and the next step is to invite community members to respond with their own lived experiences.

They are using the fund to work on an art exhibition on the theme of reproductive health and rights, which will take place in late July. They will also invite Global Majority community members to respond to their own reproductive health experiences through a speculative art workshop. The pieces created in the workshop will be collated as a zine and distributed around Leeds.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

Dr Tongue is a member of the Centre for Law and Social Justice, and can be found on X/Twitter: @whiterxbbit