Flying Inside Your Own Body
Rosie Vohra

Slugtown are pleased to present Flying Inside Your Own Body, a new series of works from Leeds based artist Rosie Vohra. The exhibition explores themes familiar to Vohra’s practice, such as lightness, the split nature of cultural identity, feminisim, metamorphosis, the conversation between craft and artistic traditions, and the connection between folklore and domestic life.

Metamorphosis within literature is a key interest for Vohra, and one that often influences her artistic practice. Thinking about the transformative aspect of metamorphosis – of elements or characters changing into something new – opens up endless possibilities for Vohra, and is a feeling shared when working in collage. Collage plays a central role in the artist’s practice, and for Flying Inside Your Own Body the artist tears away at existing paintings, drawings, clothes and scraps, reassembling them into three new large canvases, each containing a web of multiplicities and references.

The title of the exhibition itself directly references author Margaret Atwood’s poem of the same name. The poem pits the freedom one can achieve in the dream world against the crash of reality when one awakes. The paintings Your lungs fill & spread themselves, As Above, So Below and When you breathe in you’ll lift like a balloon explore symbols of flight – a common motif in folklore and mythology. The figures present in each work appear floating on the canvas, present in a moment of flux between being grounded and escape.

Vohra is also interested in the motif of the bucket, particularly in reference to Franz Kafka’s story The Bucket Rider, and Paula Rego’s abortion series. The Bucket Rider, a short story set in 1917, is set in the midst of a winter of warfare and lack of coal. The narrator sets out with an empty bucket in order to find coal for the stove. Along the way, the bucket serves him as a horse, taking him as far as the second floor of a house, where he rocks up and down as if riding the back of a camel. In Rego’s abortion series, the women in her paintings are about to undergo a backstreet abortion in a time and place where abortion is illegal. The bucket is present in nearly all the works; the lone women seen either squatting over or next to a rudimentary bucket.

Vohra seeks to transform the idea of the bucket – from a symbol of one of life’s undignified necessities to a symbol of flight or lightness. Italo Calvino’s book Six Memos for The Next Millennium is a collection of lectures covering six ideas Calvino deemed important within literature, namely lightness, quickness, exactitude, visibility, multiplicity and consistency. Within the lecture on lightness, Calvino puts forward the idea of a link between levitation and deprivation, stating ‘when the human realm seems doomed to heaviness, I feel the need to fly like Perseus into some other space. I am not talking about escaping into dreams or into the irrational. I mean that I feel the need to change my approach, to look at the world from a different angle, with a different logic, different methods of knowing and proving. The images of lightness I’m looking for shouldn’t dissolve as dreams do in the reality of the present and the future’.

Pulling on these broad range of influences in Flying Inside Your Own Body, Vohra addresses the tension between things that are considered reality, and those that are considered abstract or magic. Through this exploration metamorphosis is used as a powerful tool. Holding the potential for everything to transform into something else and for the solidity of things to dissolve.


Rosie Vohra (b. 1992, Hertfordshire, UK) is a multidisciplinary artist based in Leeds. She studied at the Royal Drawing School and Leeds Art University. Recent projects and exhibitions include: Wormb (duo exhibition), Quench Gallery, Margate, 2022; Definitions of Drawing, Sunny Bank Mills, Leeds, 2021; Chrysalis, Hyde Park Art Club, Leeds, 2021; Canopy Kilt, Proudick Gallery, London, 2019; Post Curse, Freehold Projects Space, Leeds, 2019; The Sir Denis Mahon Exhibition, The British Museum, London, 2018; Social Event, Platform, Glasgow International Festival, 2018. Vohra’s work is held in public and private collections including: The Goverment Art Collection, The Royal Collection and Moritz-Heyman Collection.