Past Events

Reframing Fields of Vision: From “Pencil of Nature” to Environmental Futures

Lecture Series – Liz Wells

  • 14 March 2019
  • 6:30 – 8:30 pm
  • 18.30-19.00 Drinks Reception
    19.00-20.30 Lecture and Discussion
  • Lecture Room, Paul Mellon Centre

Since its inception, photography has been used to explore the geographic and the botanical. This talk centres on British photography and ways in which photographers have used the camera to explore place and environment, particularly in relation to rural lands and landscapes. Early photographs were generally accepted as ‘straight’ empirical evidence. More recently, photography has become associated with interrogative questioning of ecosystems and environmental change. We shall note historical developments, including changing notions of beauty in landscape. Then, through critical evaluation of selected recent examples, we shall consider conceptual framing, ways of seeing and modes of photographic representation.

Suggested reading

  • Robert Adams, ‘Truth and Landscape’ in Beauty in Photography (Aperture, 1996), pp. 11- 20.
  • David Bate, ‘Notes on Beauty and Landscape’ in Liz Wells, Kate Newton & Catherine Fehily (eds), Shifting Horizons. (I B Tauris, 2000). pp. 34-38.
  • Doreen Massey, ‘Landscape as a Provocation: Reflections on Moving Mountains’ Journal of Material Culture, 11(1-2) 2006, pp. 33–48.
  • Jem Southam, ‘Landscape Stories’ in Liz Wells & Simon Standing, Change (University of Plymouth Press, 2007), pp. 8-23.
  • Liz Wells, ‘Case Study: Landscape as Genre’ in Photography, A Critical Introduction, ed. 5 (Routledge, 2015), pp. 331-344.

Before the talk you might like to look at a couple of examples of land -oriented work by photographers such as: Anna Atkins, Mandy Barker, John Darwell, John Davies, Susan Derges, P.H.Emerson, Garry Fabian Miller, David Farrell, Sophie Gerrard, Fay Godwin, Paul Hill, John Kippin, Chrystel Lebas, Walter Lewis, Frank Meadow Sutcliffe, Ingrid Pollard, Jem Southam.

About the speaker

  • Headshot of Liz Wells, in front of bookcase

    Liz Wells writer, curator and lecturer edited The Photography Reader and The Photography Culture Reader (2019; 2003 1st ed.) and Photography: A Critical Introduction (2021, 6th ed.; trans, Greek, 2008; Chinese, 2012; Korean, 2016) and is a co-editor for photographies, Routledge journals. Publications on landscape include Land Matters: Landscape Photography, Culture and Identity (2011; reprint 2021). She has contributed many essays within artists’ books, exhibition catalogues, journals and other edited collections. She is series editor for Photography, Place, Environment.

    Exhibitions as curator include: Sea, Sand and Soil: Plastics in our Environment (Pingyao International Photography Festival, Sept 2021); Seedscapes: Future-Proofing Nature (Impressions Gallery, Bradford, Yorks., Sept – Dec 2020; UK tour 2021); Layers of Visibility, (Nicosia Municipal Arts Centre, 2018/9; co-curator, Yiannis Toumazis); Light Touch, (Baltimore Washington International Airport, 2014); Futureland Now – John Kippin, Chris Wainwright (Laing Gallery, Newcastle, 2012/13); Sense of Place, European Landscape Photography (BOZAR, Brussels, 2012); and Landscapes of Exploration, British Art from Antarctica (UK: Plymouth, 2012; Cambridge, 2013; Bournemouth, 2015).

    She is Emeritus Professor in Photographic Culture, Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Business, University of Plymouth, UK, and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate, University of Gothenburg, Sweden, 2017 and Honored Educator, Society for Photographic Education, 2021. She is British, based in Devon, UK.