Liz Wells

Liz Wells

Professor in Photographic Culture

Liz Wells (born London, lives Devon) writes and lectures on photographic practices. She has a particular interest in land and environment as explored through photographic and other media. Her monograph, Land Matters, (I B Tauris, 2011) investigates ways in which photographers engage with issues about land, its representation and idealisation, demonstrating how the visual interpretation of land as landscape reflects and reinforces contemporary political, social and environmental attitudes. Through reference to art historical debates and through critical appraisal of key examples of work by photographers working in, for example, the USA, in Europe, Scandinavia and Baltic areas, she asks what is at stake in landscape photography now. She has curated a number of exhibitions on land, landscape, environment, exploring questions of representation and also what art can contribute within current debates on environmental trauma, climate change and the post-industrial sublime.

She is also author of a number of publications intended to engage historical, theoretical and critical debates. The fifth edition of her co-written book, Photography, A Critical Introduction, has been commissioned for 2014 publication. A Chinese version was published in early 2013. She co-edits the journal, photographies (Routledge) and is an elected member of the Society for Photographic Education Board of Directors.

Issues associated with social and environmental change transcend both national geographic boundaries and those between academic disciplines. As a member of the research executive for the Media, Art and Design research centre at Plymouth University, and as convener of the research group for Land/Water and the Visual Arts, she is centrally interested in international research collaborations for environmental investigation.

Exhibitions as Curator include:

2014 Group exhibition for Maryland Art Place, Baltimore

(dates and title tbc)

2013 Landscapes of Exploration, recent British art from Antarctica, .

Cambridge, Scott Polar Research Institute and Ruskin, Gallery, Anglia Ruskin University, October/November

2012 Futureland Now*, John Kippin and Chris Wainwright, Laing Gallery, Newcastle, September 2012-January 2013

Sense of Place, Contemporary Landscape Photography*, Brussels, Centre des Beaux Arts, June – September 2012. Work by 40 artists from 27 European Union countries.

Landscapes of Exploration*, Peninsula Arts Gallery, Plymouth, February/March. Work by 11 artists who undertook residencies in Antarctica commissioned by the British Antarctic Survey, 2001-9.

2011 Conversations on Nature, Chrystel Lebas and SofijaSilvia, Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Rijeka, Croatia, June/August

2006 Uneasy Spaces, 80 Washington Square East Galleries, New York, USA, September /November 2006. (New York University)

2004-7 Facing East, contemporary landscape photography from Baltic areas,

Arts Institute, Bournemouth; Impressions Gallery, York; Plymouth Arts Centre; The Lighthouse, Wolverhampton; Dick Institute, Kilmarnock; Tullie House, Carlisle; Yard Gallery, Nottingham.

2000-1 Shifting Horizons* (for IRIS Women’s Photography Project, Staffordshire University), Midland Arts Centre, Birmingham; Derby Museum & Gallery; Stoke on Trent Museum

1994/95 Viewfindings*, Newlyn Gallery, Penzance; Watershed, Bristol; National Museum of Photography, Film and Theatre, Bradford; Zone Gallery, Newcastle

* Catalogue or publication.

Publications include:

Books (since 2000)

2013 Photography and Cyprus: Time, Place and Identity, (co-editor, with

Theopisti Stylianou-Lambert and Nicos Philippou). London: I B Tauris (in press)

2012 Futureland Now, (editor) John Kippin and Chris Wainwright. Plymouth: UPP

Landscapes of Exploration, (editor). Plymouth: UPP

2011 Land Matters: Landscape Photography, Culture and Identity.(author)

London: I B Tauris, 2011

Beauty, (co-editor, with Simon Standing), Land Water symposia series, Plymouth: UPP.

2009 Photography: A Critical Introduction, (editor and co-author).

London: Routledge, 4th ed.; Chinese version, 2013; Greek version, 2008; 3rd ed 2004; 2nd ed 2000 (shortlisted, The Reind M de Vries European Photography Prize 2001); 1st ed. 1997

Relic, (co-editor, with Simon Standing),

Land Water symposia series. Plymouth: UPP

2008 Fictions, (co-editor, with Simon Standing),

Land Water symposia series Plymouth: UPP

2007 Change, (co-editor, with Simon Standing),

Land Water symposia series. Plymouth: UPP

2005 Surface, (co-editor, with Simon Standing),

Land Water symposia series. Plymouth: UPP

2003 The Photography Reader. (editor). London: Routledge

2000 Shifting Horizons, Women’s Landscape Photography Now, (co-editor).

London: I B Tauris,, 2000

Chapters and articles (since 2000)

2013 ‘Silent Witness’ in Oscar Palaccio, American Places, San Francisco: Chroma (CIIS) (forthcoming)

‘We were there’ in Theopisti Stylianou-Lambert, Tourists Who Shoot. Nicosia. Exhibition catalogue.

‘Under the Shadow of Change’ Isabelle Pateer, Unsettled, London Photofusion, Exhibition statement,

2012 ‘Meditations on Form and Flow’ in Per Bak Jensen, Lost. Copenhagen: Galleri Bo Bjerggaard. Exhibition catalogue.

‘Beyond the Exhibition, from Catalogue to Photobook’ in Di Bello, Wilson and Zamir eds.,The Photobook. London: I B Tauris. 2012

2011 ‘Questions of Distance’ in Yiannia Toumazis ed. Temporary Taxonomy. Nicosia: Republic of Cyprus Ministry of Education and Culture for Cyprus Pavilion, Venice Biennale.

‘Potent Portraits’ in Michelle Sank, The Submerged. Netherlands: Schilt Publishing,

‘Iceblink - In Search of a Contemporary Sublime’ in Anne Noble, Spoolhenge, Antarctica. Plymouth: UPP.

2010 ‘Space in between: on Women and Landscape Photography in Britain’ in Johan Swinnen & Luc Deneulin The Weight of Photography. Brussels: Academic and Scientific Publishers.

‘Figures in a Landscape’ in Trine Søndergaard and Nicolai Howalt, How to Hunt. Ostfildern,Germany: Hatje Cantz.

‘Silent Landscape’ in EXIT 38, Spring.

The Extraordinary Everyday’, in Marte Aas, Oslo: Museum of Art, Architecture and Design.

2009 ‘Poetics and Silence’,in Jorma Puranen, Icy Prospects. Ostfildern, Germany: Hatje Cantz, 2009

2008 ‘Revisiting photography as art’ in A Auer & U Schogl eds. Jubilee, 30 years ESHPh.

Vienna: Fotohof.

2007 ‘Curatorial strategy as critical intervention - The Genesis of Facing East’in Judith Rugg, ed. Issues in Curating, Contemporary Art and Peformance, Bristol: Intellect.

‘Darkening Days’ in John Darwell, Dark Days, Stockport: Dewi Lewis.

2006 ‘Jorma Puranen’, in Breaking the Ice, Contemporary Art from Finland.

Bonn: Kunstmuseum,

2005 Entry writer, R Lenman, ed., The Oxford Companion to the Photograph. Oxford: OUP

‘Martin Pover, “Carceri”’, Portfolio 41

2003 Review essay, on David Campany, ‘Art and Photography’, Source 36

‘Land Matters’, S Kadi, ed, Loisirs et Société britannique au xx esiecle, Recherches Valenciennes 13, Presses Universitaires de Valenciennes, 2003

‘Icy Prospects’, M Miles and N Kirkham, eds., Cultures and Settlements, Bristol: Intellect Books

2002 ‘Erasing time-Lines’ on Deborah Baker’s “Ghosts in the Nursery”’, Portfolio 37.

‘Then and Now, some notes on photography and theory’ Source 33.

2001 ‘Paradoxes of the Pastoral’, in John Kippin, Cold War Pastoral. London: Black Dog,

‘Monstrous Beauty’, in Su Grierson, Eyeshine. Glasgow: Street Level Gallery. Exhibition catalogue

2000 ‘The Critical Workshop’, Journal of Media Practice 2,

‘Seeing Through Belief’ (with Martin Lister), in Carey Jewitt and Theo van Leeuwen, eds, The Handbook of Visual Analysis, London: Sage.


2011 - Exposure, (advisory group) Society for Photographic Education, USA

2008 - photographies, (Co-editor). Routledge/Taylor and Francis Journals.

Boards and advisory roles

Member,Board ofDirectors, Society for Photographic Education (2011 - )

Member, Advisory Board, European Society for the History of Photography (200X - )

Member, Peer Review College, Arts and Humanities Research Council (2004 – 2012)

Research Leave Awards Panel, AHRC (2009 and 2010)

Current research supervisions

MPhil/PhD: Kayla Parker (Director of Studies); Emmanuel Bras; Lula Buzz; Yan Preston; Kevin Robinson (Director of Studies); David Wyatt.

Masters by Research: Cassandra Horsley.

Consultancy includes

2011 External evaluator, appointment of Professor in Contemporary Fine Art, Alvar Aalto University, Helsinki.

2011 External consultant, Practice-based Ph D programme development, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

Ph D examinations

Feb 2013 Phil Smith, Plymouth University (chair)

April 2011 Martin Shaw, Plymouth University (chair)

Sept 2010 Karen Smith, Plymouth University (internal)

Nov 2007 Anne Burke, University of Ulster (external)

June 2007 Anastasia Markidou, University of Westminster (external)

May 2007 Jane Tormey, Loughborough University (external)