B.A. Photography Graduates round-up

Kamila Lozinska, Thin Places

Showing work across the U.K. this Summer in exhibitions held in venues spanning from the Old Truman Brewery in London to the halls of their very own campuses, this year’s graduate photography students presented thought-provoking projects in the most diverse way. Ellen Stewart adds a hint of mystery to the everyday; Emanuele Moi explores curiosity with surreal symbols; Eva Louisa Jonas looks at the relationship between the self and our natural world, and Kamila Lozinska delves into the religious world in which she grew up.   

To round up this season, we spoke to our top 4 picks to find out more about them, their projects and life after uni.

Eva Louisa Jonas

What is your graduate project about?

My practice draws from my immediate surroundings, focusing on the self and its extensions as different interventions within the environment. This approach forms the foundations of my graduate project titled That Thing Over There that Surrounds and Sustains Us.

In this work, I explore the human condition to attempt to render the inaccessible, accessible, creating far-flung spaces beyond their own local geography. In such geographies, an expression of the exotic is still seductive to both the photographer and the viewer, inundated as they already are with such representations in modern culture. Beyond this lies a cultural and historical web of damage and displacement of the natural world, as a result of human exploration and expansion. Nature presented as an exhibit, exhibition, dictates our experience of it.

I want to ask questions about what these spaces tell us about human aspiration, the obvious contradictions at play and the longing for connection to the natural world? This work is as much about not knowing as knowing, unlearning and relearning.

How has the program at the University of Brighton informed your idea about photography? Has your perception about photography changed and how?

The program gives you the space to look outward. My images often reflect aesthetic research just as they do a concept or idea, finding myself deviating in questioning the use of approach, abstraction or material and that is why I see each work (or series) as a progression – building on questions, ruminations and immediacies.

My perception about photography has changed, this change forming in parallel with my studies and program, as you become aware of more mediums, processes, ideas and more – you come to a very expansive and empowering place.

What was good about studying at Brighton? What is your highlight of the course?

Brighton has allowed me to grow as a creative practitioner, developing my own way of working and approaching subjects. The courses quite self-led structure has allowed me to account for myself in balancing university work with paid work and any other opportunities. The time to be able to look outward allows you to be aware of spaces where you can collaborate, build links with other creative practitioners and more.

During my second year of university, I received a scholarship to study at Nagoya University of the Arts in Japan for a semester. This was a really amazing opportunity to engage in a variety of creative courses, from ceramics to papermaking, lithography and more. And to be able to extend elements of these courses to my own immediate practice has formed the foundations of many enquires and ideas.

Who inspires your work?

Many things inspire my work; artists, writers, a certain movement, interaction or gesture.

What will be your next steps after school?

Going forward I have ideas to develop this work, extending out into some points of reference within Europe. I will need to raise some funds for this to happen, continuing to work and research and to remain excited!

Why would you recommend this program to someone interested in photography?

Brighton as a city offers a whole host of activities to get involved in, attracting interesting and engaged individuals. Due to the programs self-led structure, it requires you to gain your own understanding of routine and to what level of engagement you are willing to apply yourself to, to then take this out into the world, meet people, be inspired and create work.

Emanuele Moi

What is your graduate project about?

In my project, I tried to bring together various ideas I am interested in, but at its core, I would call it an exploration of symbols and icons, of their generation and understanding in relation to personal and cultural backgrounds. I titled the project Wunderkammer, which is a German loanword for a cabinet of curiosities, as it exemplifies the process of collecting together the single images I produced, each with its own range of elements and visual suggestion.

How has the BA at Middlesex University informed your idea about photography? Has your perception about photography changed and how?

Studying at Middlesex radically influenced my ideas on photography, or better, allowed me to develop my own informed views. My time there has been a continuous process of improvement on so many levels, and now, as a fresh graduate, I understand how it gave me the tools to create my own vision and shape my ideas.

To me, the strength of photography as a medium is in the infinitude of subjects it can explore and the ways to approach them. The single most important thing I learnt during the course is how to elaborate on the best approach to deal with the right subject and to always be critical towards the work you are producing. 

What was good about studying at Middlesex? What is your highlight of the course?

Thinking about the good bits of studying at Middlesex, I cannot gloss over the incredible facilities I have had access to during my time there. The top aspect of studying there though was the mentorship I received from all the tutors. That is something I really treasured and will miss. Everyone in the teaching staff, but also the technicians in the laboratories and studios, are there to help you carry out your ideas and improve your work. Having the chance to reach out to so many people and receiving constant feedback from the student body gives you a lot of perspective and helps in the moments of stress or creative block.

The highlight of the entire experience was eventually exhibiting my final project at our Degree Show and at Free Range, and seeing a large audience responding to my work for the first time. That was both terrifying and exciting.

Who inspires your work?

I find it a little hard to name who inspires my work. There are so many artists I look up to and I usually find inspiration from all kinds of media, practises and art in general. For my project Wunderkammer in particular, I have drawn a lot of inspiration from the readings I was doing on semiotics, from authors like Umberto Eco and Roland Barthes. I have also spent a lot of time studying the employment of symbolism in art, from Classic and Christian art to Surrealism and all that is in between and beyond.

In terms of photographers, I kept going over the production of people like Lorenzo Vitturi, Olivier Richon, Taryn Simon and Torbjørn Rødland, to name a few. I was also personally inspired by my own tutor Steven Barritt, who kept me on track, pushed me and encouraged me all the way through. 

What will be your next steps after school?

I feel that leaving such a structured environment as university with all its schedules, briefings, seminars, deadlines, and finding yourself in the world, can easily make you feel lost. So I guess my next step will be to try and stay focused, keep myself stimulated and inspired, producing new stuff and see where everything goes. At the moment, I have got a couple of projects I want to put together, with more of an introspective feel. I will hopefully have had a good start on them by the end of the summer.

Why would you recommend this program to someone interested in photography?

I feel it is honestly a great place to learn and improve your photography practice, to nurture your vision and ideas, and see them blossom in a stimulating and supportive environment. If someone is passionate about photography and ready to go through three challenging though rewarding years, I would definitely suggest them to consider the Middlesex programme.

Ellen Stewart

What is your graduate project about?

My graduate project focuses on the everyday banality of the home, aiming to deliberately confuse and question our own associations to our private space. Using the constraints of my childhood house, I play with ‘making strange’ the seemingly mundane in order to explore the tension between how we look at the everyday and the epic. Previously, I’ve created work away from the home as these tend to be subjects that you don’t understand. A subject matter that you don’t understand always tends to be more interesting so I started to mediate on the concept of playing with imagery that I do understand and pushing it to an extent where it is unfamiliar to me. The strangeness had to come from removing or placing mundane items and family members rather than including any external ‘strange’ objects/subjects in aid to explore the bizarre in the normal.

How has the program at Bournemouth informed your idea about photography? Has your perception about photography changed and how?

The program at Bournemouth has informed my ideas about photography massively; coming from a painting background I only had a very general understanding of the medium and the course gave me a much more expansive view. The course curriculum covers so many different sides to photography and I feel this is where my perception of the medium enhanced in understanding the many disciplines it feeds in and out of it. The three-year course featured many workshops in photobook making to creating three-dimensional photographs.

What was good about studying at Bournemouth? What is your highlight of the course?

The main highlight of my course has been the mentoring and invaluable feedback you receive on your work. The lecturers really pushed my work to the best version it could be and helped me a lot in understanding how to visually explore the questions I had. The range of seminars and tutorials you receive will definitely be the aspect I’ll miss the most from studying at Bournemouth. The wide range of kit is also amazing, personally working predominantly using 5×4 field camera and a lighting kit had pushed the technical side of my work too. 

Who inspires your work?

Gerhard Richter has been my main influence for many years, I’ve always loved studying his photo-realist/photo-paintings in which he blurs the paint creating this ‘in-between space’ of painting and photography. I’m drawn to anything that confuses the audience, a photo or painting that makes you question what you’re actually looking at. Richter’s Two Candles painting, the subject matter is so ordinary yet due to his stylistic blur you’re thrown into a state of confusion. Joanna Piotowska is another big inspiration of mine, especially over the last year and seeing her recent exhibition at the Tate. I became obsessed with her clever subversion of childhood play in making her subjects create makeshifts shelters in their home. 

What will be your next steps after school?

I will continue my current series In My Fence Wall. I’ve just begun to receive support, feedback and representation for the next year from the Photograd platform, which is really exciting. I am to create a finished photobook which will hopefully begin to answer the questions I have around my practice. I’ve also been thinking to push my work forward by doing an MA when I’ve distinguished my practice further. 

Why would you recommend this program to someone interested in photography?

I feel it is the most versatile to any approach of photography, whether you’re creating an immersive installation, moving image or photographs on a wall. The course can suit anyone who has any type of interest and will push your individual approach to its largest capability – both technically and conceptually. 

Kamila Lozinska

What is your graduate project about?

I questioned my faith at a young age. Christianity is deeply embedded within the political system of Poland, it surrounded me through my education and was present within my upbringing. There was a church in front of the house I grew up in.  Thin Places directly reflects on devotion, which I observed through places of Christian cult and pilgrimage around Poland; Holy mountains, healing streams and places of apparition.

I was intrigued by the energy and mysticism of these places. Some images in the series were inspired by stories of religious experiences, in which the motif of light reappears most frequently. The light is either leading the way, precedes and apparition or ‘shows the truth’. Through these images, I attempt to look into the foundations of believing and, in a way, reasons for it. In the process of creating this work, I contemplate on my own relationship with faith and how it has shaped me.

How has the program at UWE Bristol informed your idea about photography? Has your perception about photography changed and how?

The course turned my focus on creating rather than simply capturing. It encouraged me to reflect on my work and myself, and how these reflections would influence my practice. 

What was good about studying at UWE Bristol? What is your highlight of the course?

I think the course benefits the most from the ‘Professional Practice and Work Experience’ module, which encourages students from their first year at university to participate in photography related jobs. Running through all three years, it is a great reminder of getting yourself, your work, and skills out there, so graduating and searching for a job isn’t such a shock. 

Guest speaker talks are also a huge plus. We get to hear about the process of many established photographers and people from the industry as well as show them our work and get some invaluable feedback. 

The last highlight, but possibly the most significant one would be the amazing staff at UWE. Both lecturers and technicians are the most committed and passionate team I have ever met and got to work with. 

Who inspires your work?

Photographically, I obsess over many people through Instagram, most recently Andre Viking. I also always look up to Max Pinckers’ work and words. 

What will be your next steps after school?

I’m currently looking to gain more experience in publishing, event hosting and curating within the creative industry. At the same time, I’d like to continue working on Thin Places and produce another personal body of work. I’m giving myself more time to execute these.

Why would you recommend this program to someone interested in photography?

Because of all the highlights, I mentioned earlier, if you’re passionate about photography this course is possibly the best place for you to spread your wings.