Graduates 2023: Susan Bell: MA Photography

“I have re-connected with the darkroom, got to work with 5×4 plate cameras, had workshops on 16mm film making, photogravure and b&w printing.”

Please tell us a bit about your work and influences:

I am a photography based visual artist drawing on history & stories to create poetic, painterly images.  My practice is experimental, playing with analogue and alternative photographic methods to build up a textured impression.  The work is completely photographic, but emerges from the imagination.  I am influenced by childhood years spent in Japan as well as in European painting particularly the Dutch Masters.  My current project ‘Emergence’ is shot on the 5×4 plate camera on the floodplains of the River Ouse and draws inspiration from the diaries of Virginia Woolf.

Can you tell us a bit about your journey to your course and what made you choose it?

I have been an editorial and commercial photographer for about 20 years working in landscape and food photography.  I have long wanted to do an MA and to expand the fine art side of my practice.  I have a number of friends who completed the MA Photography at Brighton University and I saw how they consolidated their fine art practices as a result of the process.


What were the highlights of the course for you?

For me the highlight was the knowledge of tutors and technicians, combined with the access facilities.  I have re-connected with the darkroom, got to work with 5×4 plate cameras, had workshops on 16mm film making, photogravure and b&w printing.  It has been an incredible chance to have the possibility of guided experimentation particularly with analogue formats which are very important to my practice.


Was the location of your course in Brighton important?

Yes, the location was important.  I live in nearby Lewes and I knew I wanted to be able to have as much access to the darkrooms and facilities as possible.  Juggling an MA with work, I had to make things as easy as possible.


What are your plans after graduation?  What’s next for you?

I am looking forward to continuing with this project and pushing my practice further.  I plan to seek gallery representation for this work and will also be entering competitions & looking to exhibit further.  I also plan to run workshops and would like to teach.


What advice would you give someone considering postgraduate study?

If you can, do it!  But be ready to dig deep and commit to a very intense process.

Follow Susan on Instagram @susanbell_studio


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