Kathryn Ashill 


2008. Video performance. Wales, UK.

‘Lovebite is a collaborative performance piece involving artist Kathryn Ashill participating in a weeks work experience at Biopharm in the village of Hendy. This active involvement with the day to day keeping of the Hirudo Medicinalis Leech is a key focus to the final performative outcome. Biopharm are leading breeders of the Hirudo leech, which is currently used in hospitals for reconstructive surgery, recovering ad instigating blood flow and to the patients body. It is this life giving bite that is the Lovebite.

Historically the leech invokes a sense of horror. Ashill’s performance challenges this perception of the creature as a ‘bloodsucker’ and focuses on their life giving and life saving properties. A key feature to Ashill’s performance is the artist’s passivity- she calmly observes the leeches as they take their hour long feed, using her own body as the food source. Playing metaphorically with themes of maternity, breastfeeding and familial blood ties, a strong sense of calmness is evoked through the videoed performance.’

Dr Karen Ingham, taken from the SATnet (Science, Art&Technology Network) catalogue 2008. Commissioned by SATnet and University of Wales Trinity Saint David.

Filmed by: Tim Stokes

© Kathryn Ashill 2022