Reframing sex work

  • Series
Artwork made up of a black and white photograph of a female figure from behind, from the waist up, against a black background. Her arms are held above her head and her wrists cross, fingers extended. Embroidered into the photographic print with grey thread is a crisscross floral pattern which exactly covers her head and hair. Across her back, embroidered in silver thread is a large triangle connected to a smaller triangle. Either side of the figure are two large curved forms made up of a layered texture of dots.
Sex work, stigma and whorephobia. © Jessa Fairbrother for Wellcome Collection.

Dr Kate Lister invited five contributors to share their diverse, profound and often heartbreaking personal experiences of sex work, with each reflecting upon how the stigma of sex work can have a significant impact on sex workers’ mental health, on their place in society and on their physical safety. The result is a series of unique perspectives that question the political and societal reluctance to legitimise sex work and how it might better protect those who are the most vulnerable.

About the contributors

Photographic black and white head and shoulders portrait of Dr Kate Lister.

Dr Kate Lister


Kate Lister is the creator of the award-winning online research project Whores of Yore, which seeks to build public engagement and disseminate research on the history of sex and sexuality through social media. She also lectures at Leeds Trinity University, and is widely published on the sex trade.

Photographic, black and white, head and shoulders portrait of Jessa Fairbrother.

Jessa Fairbrother


Jessa Fairbrother is a visual artist using photography, performance and stitch. Her long-term investigations revolve around subjects of yearning and the porous body. Her work is held in numerous private and public collections worldwide, including Tate Britain, the V&A, the Yale Center for British Art and the Museum of Fine Art, Houston. Her work is represented by the Photographers’ Gallery, London and AnzenbergerGallery, Vienna. She is also a QEST (Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust) scholar.