They all say please – Sharon Boothroyd

The White Cloth Gallery, in Leeds, is hosting Sharon Boothroyd’s (a former OCA lecturer) exhibition, They all say please. This is an account of a visit on 9th July.

If one had not been in the know about who was exhibiting in the gallery, it could have remained a mystery; there was nothing in the exhibition space explaining the work or who produced it. The details on gallery’s website were also sparse and took some digging through layers to find. As an exhibiting artist this would have been a little disappointing; an opportunity for promotion missed.

Source:, Please make him kick her out, S Boothroyd

Fortunately, there are other online sources that explain something of the intention behind the work. Slate features what seems to be extracts from an interview with Boothroyd, who explains that the inspiration for the work initially came from found prayer cards in a church and then an online prayer forum. The title of the exhibition comes from the observation that all the prayers start with, ‘please …’. Interestingly, Boothroyd explains that the project originally started as a work illustrating the prayer cards, which become captions to the images, but after a mishap with the photo files, she relaunched the project in more of an abstract direction.

The work seemed a combination of the abstract and the illustrative; for example, Please keep us safe tonight is accompanied by the photo of a woman standing alone at a bar (distinctly illustrative); whereas the selfish prayer, Please bless my eBay listings, was accompanied by a washing machine (in the gallery), which is distinctly abstract.  Apparently the photo for the latter should have been the old warehouse buildings (according to Boothroyd’s own website).The mix between the illustrative and the abstract was a little disorienting, and distracted for the concept of the work.

The photos themselves, which can be viewed on Boothroyd’s own website (here), are processed in consistent subdued tones (with a chrome appearance). Many of them are taken in subdued lighting conditions, but the tonality in the shadows is wonderfully reproduced (example above, with the contrasting highlights). The shots are carefully, but conventionally framed, with subjects mostly centred in the frames; easy on the eye, but not visually challenging.

Overall, a very interesting concept. The importance of consistency in interpretation of a concept to avoid disorienting the viewer is perhaps a lesson learned from viewing this work.


Sharon [website]. They all say please. Available from: [accessed 10.7.16]

Slate [website]. What do people pray for? Available from: [accessed 10.7.16]

White Cloth Gallery [website]. Available from: [accessed 10.7.16]

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