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Lizzie Merrill
PhD student



I completed a BA in Fine Art at Central St Martins in 2018, at which time my work was primarily practice based and my research focused on how death impacted critical readings of female artists’ work. I went on to develop this research further while studying for an MSt in Women’s Studies at Oxford University, for which I was awarded a distinction. My research engaged with literary and artistic representations of death and cancer patienthood in the 20th-21st century. 

In 2021, I was awarded White Rose College of the Arts and Humanities funding to undertake a PhD at the University of York in the Centre for Women’s Studies. My current research project focuses on Jo Spence’s The Final Project and the visual outcomes of a workshop based on Spence’s methods. 

I have presented work most recently at the Death and Culture IV conference 2022 (at York St John University). My most recent published work is as the editor of a community cookbook, made in collaboration with the charity Arts for Health MK.

I am Co-Editor in Chief of Cultivate, the Centre for Women’s Studies’ feminist academic journal and I was a member of the York International Women’s Week organisational committee from 2021-2023.

I am supervised by Dr Boriana Alexandrova and Dr Clare Bielby.



My research analyses the ways in which visual images and visual narratives can express the embodied experiences of people who have had cancer. My PhD focuses on Jo Spence’s The Final Project (1991-2) and the visual outcomes of a workshop based on Spence’s methods, held with participants. 

A focal method (developed from ‘The Final Project’) that I am particularly excited by is photofantasy. This method was adapted from Spence’s practice of photography, when suffering with leukaemia, to allow the artist to continue making work from her sickbed. It involved collaging old photographic images from her archive, rather than taking new ones.

My research explores my own perspective of leukaemia patienthood as well as those of my participants and Spence, with my methodology consisting of visual analysis and autotheory.



At present, I teach in the Department of English at York University, on the module Approaches to Literature I.

In 2022, I worked as a Graduate Teaching Assistant at Central St Martins, supporting 3rd year BA Fine Art students with their final submissions and degree show exhibition. 


Contact details

Elizabeth Merrill
PhD student
Centre for Women's Studies
University of York
North Yorkshire
YO10 5DD