image from 'student' project

Graduates 2017: Judith Ricketts

“The project explored the politics of diversity of European nationals based in Brighton in response to Brexit. I photographed eight people. People were very scared. It was very palpable. I asked them how they felt – you’re in a place that you think is home and it’s no longer home.” This is Photography BA(Hons) student Judith Ricketts talking about a Performing Identity commission by Photoworks, an organisation based in the same Edward Street building as the Photography course.

Judith’s work explores identity and belonging. We caught up with her at Edward Street:

Hi Judith – tell us a bit about yourself

“My first career as a workplace consultant in the City of London where I worked with developers and architects, measured designed and augmented existing buildings from Grade 1 listed to The Swiss Re building (The Gherkin). Then I moved to Brighton and we renovated a five-story Georgian House in Brighton, which was featured in House Beautiful!

What have you worked on as a photographer so far?

“I got into photography through volunteering in the community with Mosaic, then with Moot (Music of our time), then with the Royal Pavilion Museums. My first commission was for Black History – that was about hair and stories of identity.

I’ve looked at the city of Brighton and how it’s been made through historical data – I made a film about the migrant crisis. Then I did another piece of work on the slave trade and slave owners that lived in Brighton. I’m very drawn to Brighton but I look around and there is no evidence that we have a history here. I am very keen to continue to work with people and issues relating to enforced, economic and political migration in relation to the city..”

The Photoworks commission was displayed in Jubilee Square with three other students.  I believe the open access to the work was quite an important factor. I stood and watched people who were walking past and them engaging in a way that they may not have done in a gallery.”

Tell us about your final project which will be at the grad show

“It’s about the Transatlantic Slave Trade and Brighton. I’m working on a moving image projected on map of Brighton which connects locations of Brighton with Caribbean.

Brighton is about the now but as people make roots here it’s going to be more about their identity and their children’s identity. We need to look at the way that history is taught in schools. It is not widely known that the Transatlantic Slave Trade started with Elizabeth I and essentially ended for Jamaica in 1962, with independence.”

Have you enjoyed the degree?

When I joined the University of Brighton I was solely a photographer, since joining in order for me to appropriately respond to my subject, I started making work with moving image. It’s the kind of place where I’m sure if I wanted to do sculpture as part of my work, I could find a lecturer who would help me. I think that for a creative person it’s important to learn your craft but be able to meet deadlines and of course respond to the brief in a way that’s appropriate.”

The course has been fundamental to me – it’s given me a new level of confidence. I am thinking of applying for some artists residencies from Government bodies – there is no way I would have considered that before.

It’s been nice learning from the other students – they’re engaged and very articulate and have strong specialisations. All our technicians are active practitioners, know their stuff and are very helpful.”

What next for you?

“I have been offered an early place on the Global studies MA at Sussex. I would like to continue to engage with community groups in relation to the city and its making, and make work that is interactive and that brings people together in a collaborative way. It would be great to work with organisation such as Lighthouse, whose core practice is complementary to mine.”

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