A community of researchers investigating a common area of interest

Dr John Hillman

Asscoiate Professor of Photography
Director of the Photography and Image Research Group

Dr John Hillman is a researcher, writer, educator, and image-maker engaged in the interdisciplinary areas of photography, image, and visual culture. His interests lie in philosophical approaches to contemporary culture and understanding how images and media technologies shape our experience. His research is interdisciplinary in form and covers the social, political, and philosophical dimensions of contemporary experience. What unifies his interests is the exploration of how theory can enrich and offer new insights into creative practice and lived experience. His approach is distinctive in its foregrounding of theoretical ideas and in how it attempts, not to explain phenomena through theory, but to elucidate theory as it appears within contemporary culture.

Monika Fischbein

Lecturer, Artist and Researcher

Fischbein’s current practice and research (2020 -) uses an interdisciplinary approach with methodologies of iconography and symbolism. These centre on the notions of spiritual identity, esotericism, and mysticism, and their manifestation in imaging, moreover investigating their role and purpose in contemporary visual culture. From 2014-2019, Fischbein’s research and practice focused on the idea of national identity, resulting in several projects: a personal monograph titled “National Still Life” (2015). A community outreach photographic and research investigation in collaboration with Fotonow CIC, titled “The National Identity Project” (2017). She also carried out a project working with various communities all over Europe, collecting found photography and narratives based on national identity (2016). Then she went onto pursue a photographic project, titled “Into the Arena” (2018-2019) concentrating on elements of “tauromachia”, the bullfighting tradition in Spain and its strong connection to the expression of Spanish national identity.

Carla Hamer

Lecturer in Language and Culture and PhD candidate

Carla is a full-time lecturer in Language and Culture and a PhD researcher originally from Argentina. She is interested in interdisciplinary, performative approaches, the theory of photography, the relationship between photography and performance, and new research methodologies in the arts. She has exhibited her work in UK and overseas and worked as part of a performance art group in Argentina. She has curatorial experience in Buenos Aires, her city of origin.

Carla’s research focuses on the ethics of photography that engages with ethnographic models where the photographic encounters between photographer and photographed subjects are seen as transparent evidence of ‘reality’ that is then turned into images for the viewer’s aesthetic pleasure. She is interested in the possibility of photography to challenge a representational logic, which normalises relations and discourses of power by assuming the ‘other’ as passive, preceding, and definite. Understanding photography as both practice and philosophy, her work engages with (amongst others) Derrida’s interrogation of photography and his notion of difference (différance), ideas on performativity, and the challenge of mimetic representation.

Maryam Wahid

Artist and Researcher

Maryam Wahid lives and works in the UK. She expresses the origins of the Pakistani community in her hometown Birmingham (UK) by exploring her deeply rooted family history; and the mass integration of migrants within the United Kingdom. Her work explores the female identity, the history of the South Asian community in Britain, and the notion of home and belonging.

Jo Gane

PhD Candidate

Jo’s practice is based around photographic archives and history. Central to her practice is the idea of the photograph as a two-dimensional slice of history and its function in relation to the progression of time. She uses historic photographic techniques from the dawn of photography such as the wet plate collodion process, daguerreotypes, calotypes, and photogravure to make contemporary images that disrupt the linear representation of time. Jo has been awarded the Midlands 4 Cities  AHRC doctoral studentship award for her PhD project: Revealing George Shaw: a practice-based study into photography in Birmingham c.1839-1865

Joanna Fursman

Artist Researcher

Joanna Fursman is an artist-researcher-educator living in Birmingham, UK. Fursman’s practice-led research examines where the pedagogic turn in contemporary art practice proposes different futures, potentials and possibilities of school. Her research positions pedagogic, co-operative methodologies with photographic image production, exploring where art practices make distinct forms of pedagogy visible. This intends to expose how school can be performed as unique, complex, public/not-public sites; where its effects move outwards to inform and shape cultural and societal production. Different production and configurations of school are examined through key contemporary and historical art practice, where relations with others perform new states and sites of pedagogical interaction.

Fursman’s recent entitled work, From Two Metres was made with a GRAIN Photography Hub commission and young people in secondary schools exploring responses to being in education during the Covid-19 pandemic. This put cameras into the hands of students to explore how to depict and image their experience and feelings, capturing new ways of negotiating each other and a different life in school.

Olivia Swinscoe

Artist Researcher

Olivia is a photographer based in Birmingham in the UK. She photographs people and places and her work explores the relationship between the two. She is interested in how people live and how they sustain themselves and one another.

After ten years working full-time in Higher Education, she elected to move to a part-time position in order to reinvigorate my practice. She began making and showing work again and in 2019, became a Next Wave Associate of the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists.

Over the course of the past year, she has been exploring the pictorial themes of the threshold, and the figure absorbed in an enclosed space.

Kristian Jones

Lecturer in Illustration, Artist and Researcher

Kristian is a multidisciplinary artist and lecturer at Birmingham City University. A graduate from the MA Fine Art program at Manchester Metropolitan University, his work focuses on ‘New Media Art’ and digital Interaction, combining generative graphics, algorithmic procedure, and sound / sensor driven technology. Kristian’s research currently centers around ‘surveillance culture’ and the human computer interactions of modern society as a result.