Graduates 2022: Ellie Pike: Photography

“Three years seems to have passed in absolute flurry but nevertheless I’m leaving with the feeling that I’ve spent them well and progressed not only my photographic
creative practice but also personally”.

My final body of work for this degree is titled Unearthing The Wild Self it’s a poetic explorative piece that delves into the relationship between the self and the natural world. It’s quite a personal project that was born out of my own experiences of grieving in 2021, it’s a visual poetry that diarizes my reaching out to mother nature in search of a wilder self and the encounters and experiences that unfold along the way. It’s purpose as a body of work, presented as a photobook but also as large prints for exhibition is to serve as a meditation, to allow the audience to fall into each of these encounters and meditations with me and to celebrate and explore the ideas around the self, our primal natures and our connections to the natural world, all through the complex language of photography.

My influences throughout all of my work on this degree have come from a variety of creative forms, for this project I focused on female photographers and creatives who have opened up the conversation around self portraiture and the natural world, taking conceptual and practical inspiration from the likes of Ana Mendieta’s Earth Body series, Ann Brigman, Sara Teigen Interior Landscapes, Claude Cahun and many many others. My practice is deeply lead by my love of literature, in this project Mary Oliver’s poem Sleeping In The Forest and the infamous Women Who Run With The Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes and The Knowing Body by Louise Steinman have been constant sources of guidance and inspiration that I often meander back and forth to throughout the production process.

How have you found your course and time at Brighton?
I’ve found the course and my time at Brighton to be much of what I hoped it would be. A space and time to delve into my own creative thoughts and ideas with support from many tutors across a multitude of disciplines. Three years seems to have passed in absolute flurry but nevertheless I’m leaving with the feeling that I’ve spent them well and progressed not only my photographic creative practice but also personally. It has been challenging, especially during the lockdowns where online learning became the norm and we had no access to the facilities, yet even that experience served as a good learning curve and highlighted just how integral good communication and a strong peer group support is, for both mental health as a student and also for creativity as a photographer.

How did you choose your course – why did you choose to study Photography?
I chose to return to university when I was 26 years old, I knew I wanted to study photography having studied GCSE and A Level Photography as a teenager and then working for 8 years in a multitude of social health care roles, I always felt I wanted to return to creativity, to be a visual story teller and to make imagery that did and said something about the things I am passionate about.

What are your plans after graduation?
After graduation I plan to continue my photographic work, with a continued focus and direction within documentary storytelling. I want my practice and the work I make to be a space for people to show and say who they are and to open up conversations around meaningful topics. I am fortunate to have gained some industry experience whilst I was doing the course, shooting portraits for a documentary and working behind the scenes on projects that are deeply rooted in various areas of social work that are close to my heart. This is the direction I hope to continue along, to grow the relationships I have already formed and to discover more and more.

Instagram accounts: @itsellieo | @elliepikestudio

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