Land/Water and the Visual Arts
'The Lawes of the Marches' – copyright Katie Davies 2015

Land/Water consists of artists, writers and curators who embrace a diversity of creative and critical practices. 

As a research group it operates as a forum for the interrogation of nature and culture, aesthetics and representation. 

Questioning imagery and practices relating to land, landscape and place is central to our ethos. As artists, writers, curators we work individually exploring space and place as a point of departure for experimenting in new modes of communication through picturing. 

We generate work that addresses a range of issues. These include environmental change, sustainability, journey, site and regional specificity.

In addition a forum for theoretical and methodological debate is constructed through research events, exchange exhibitions (with other HE Institutions), conferences, symposia and publications.

Find out more about the history of the research group.

Research Festival 2019

Returning for the second year, the annual research festival showcases the outstanding research carried out by staff at the University in collaboration with colleagues and partners locally, nationally and internationally.

As part of the festival, Land/Water are showcasing the ‘Layers of Visibility’ exhibition, curated by Liz Wells and Yiannis Toumazis, Director of NiMAC, that took place in October 2018 in Cyprus. The exhibition will be available for touring in the UK from Spring 2019 onwards.

The presentations will take place on 22 January, 2019, 14.00–15.30 in Jill Craigie Cinema. This will be followed by networking and refreshments in Roland Levinsky Building, immediately outside of the cinema, until 16.30.

Book your place today

Upcoming event: 100ft of Deep Time

Screening of the new collection of artists’ short films exploring concepts of Deep Time, commissioned by Mayes Creative, as part of its 2018 Cornwall 'Dark Skies: Bright Stars' programme. Each of the eight selected artists used 100ft of film to create their personal response to the theme of Deep Time. 

Artist and cultural producer Joanna Mayes will introduce the Deep Time films and talk about the ideas behind the initiative. Deep Time commissioned artists, Karen Abadie, Rachael Allain and Stuart Moore will be there to share their approach to the theme and discuss moving image as practice research.

The screening will take place on Wednesday 12 December 2018, 14:00–16:00, Room 102 Scott Building. Admission free – all welcome.

Find out more

Upcoming touring exhibition: Layers of Visibility

Artist residencies facilitated and funded jointly by the Nicosia Municipal Arts Centre (NiMAC) and the research group for Land/Water and the Visual Arts.

NiMAC, Nicosia, opening October 2018, available for tour, UK, spring 2019 onwards.

Learn more about the exhibition

The Drift

The French artist-duo Hantu screened their film 'The Drift' at the Musee D'Art Moderne Grand Duc-Jean (Mudam) in Luxembourg on 9 September 2018.

The Drift was created in Plymouth during their artist-in-residency in 2014, hosted by the Land/Water and the Visual Arts Research Group in collaboration with the Marine Institute.

Hantu, consisting of Pascale Weber (Sorbonne University, Paris, France) and Jean Delsaux (University of Clermont-Ferrand, France) premiered The Drift at the Ocean City Festival, September 2014.

Discover more about The Drift

'Field Studies' winner of the Kraszna Krausz Best Photography Book 2018!

We are delighted to announce that artist Chrystel Lebas' publication Field Studies: Walking through Landscapes and Archives, designed by Hans Gremmen and published by Fw: books has won the Kraszna Krausz Best Photography Book 2018 on the 17 May.

Chrystel is an associate artist of the University's Land/Water and the Visual Arts research group.

“Field Studies: Walking through Landscapes and Archives by Chrystel Lebas is an engaging, multi-layered visual investigation of archival subject matter. Chrystel has used a fresh design for the delivery of this project in book form, reminiscent of a scientific journal.” 

– Christiane Monarchi, Judge, Photography Book Award

Essays by Nanda van den Berg, Mark Spencer, Bergit Arends and Liz Wells / Chapter texts by Chrystel Lebas.

Extract from Bergit Arends essay:

‘French Photographer Chrystel Lebas retracing the steps of famous botanist and ecologist Sir Edward James Salisbury (1886-1978). Salisbury’s glass negatives from the 1920s, where used for his research and served as an important tool for Lebas to (re-)visit the Scottish landscape. In ‘Field Studies: Walking through Landscapes and Archives’ she combines her own large panoramic photographs, with the negatives and texts of Salisbury. Lebas uses long exposures, mostly photographed at dusk, when colours become subtle. The photographs are printed on large size fold out pages, which show all works in great detail.’

‘Over 100 years later, Chrystel Lebas adopts this same state of travel, transported by Salisbury’s historic photographs. Her subject is—just like Salisbury’s was—the study of landscape environments and their inhabitant plants. Through photography and film Lebas traces the continual encounters between the forces of the wind and the sea with humans, animals, and plants.’ 

Professor Jem Southam recently returned from a stay in New Zealand, initiated by our long-standing relationship with the College of Creative Arts, Massey University, Wellington. 

During the visit, he gave the annual Peter Turner Memorial Lecture at Te Papa, Wellington; participated in the second New Zealand PhotoBook festival; taught on a photography publishing workshop; led a session on planning for a national photography archive with museums from around the country; met with post-graduate students from Massey University; and began a photographic project in New Zealand; a start of a residency with the Photography department at Massey.

His was the third artist-in-residency by staff from 'Land/Water and the Visual Arts Research Group' to visit Massey University, after Liz Wells in 2010 and Heidi Morstang in 2012. Anne Noble, Wayne Barrar and Caroline McQuarrie from Massey University, have each made work as a result of artist-in-residencies at University of Plymouth.

Discussions also took place about extending the links between the two art schools through collaborative research, events and exchanges, which has been given potentially greater emphasis since Professor Chris Bennewith became Head of the School of Art, Design and Architecture at University of Plymouth. Chris was previously Associate Pro Vice Chancellor Enterprise for the College of Creative Arts.

Professor Liz Wells awarded an honorary Doctorate

Professor Liz Wells has been awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, for her contributions within the fields of photography history, theory, curation and criticism internationally. This is especially significant as there is a particular interest in photography and environment at Valand Academy (Department for Film, Photography, Fine Art and Literary Composition) and also an established working relationship between photography and the Hasselblad Foundation, Gothenburg. 

The honorary doctoral conferment took place at their annual University doctoral degree ceremony on October 20 2017. 

Liz Wells returned to Gothenburg to participate in a Valand Academy research day on 4 December 2017.

Professor Liz Wells receiving her honorary doctorate

Congratulations to Lu La Buzz who has recently completed her PhD 

The States and Status of Clay: Material, Metamorphic and Metaphorical Values

This doctoral project combines a performance-led practice with contextual research in order to demonstrate how arts practice can challenge historical perceptions of clay and enhance its material status. 

In terms of locality, the practice, which comprises eight performance-led works and related documentation, focuses on the China Clay and Ball Clay of South West England. Traditionally in the arts, these materials are associated with ceramics where through heating, clay becomes rigid and fixed. By contrast, Lu La Buzz' research investigates the textural fluidity and metamorphic potential of these clays in their original raw state.

Image title: Parent Rock 2. Photo credit: M Balmforth 

Past events

  • Jen Southam research seminar – 14 November 2018
  • 'Shadows We Run For' exhibition – 11 July–10 August 2018. Chris Cook exhibited his work in the Ryan Lee Gallery in New York. Shadows We Run For draws its subject matter from seventeenth-century Dutch still life painting. What began as study of Willem van Aelst and Ambrosius Bosschaert has expanded to include a meditation on both historical imperialism and the contemporary spread of capitalism across the globe.
  • Jose Maria Parreño: A Changing Art for a Changing Time – 23 March 2018, 15:30–17.00
  • Land/Water and the Visual Arts Research Group and Moving Image Arts Research Group jointly presents Kaz Rahman – 28 February 2018, 15:30–17:00, SCB 102
  • Kayla Parker / Stuart Moore ‘Father-land’ Work-in-progress from NiMAC / Land/Water Cyprus residency – 22 November 2017, 15:30–17:00, SCB 102
  • Research seminar – Esther Johnsen, 1 November 2017, 15:30–17:00 
  • Kayla Parker’s new film ‘On Location’ screened in the In the Open exhibition at Sheffield Institute of Art Gallery from 6–28 September 2017. You can find more details on the 'In the Open' artist's listing for Kayla Parker:
  • To celebrate its tenth anniversary, photographies journal held a two-day international conference – 'Critical Issues in Photography Today' 18–19 May 2017, University of Westminster, London UK. Photographies is co-edited by Liz Wells
  • Annual Summer Symposium – 'Territories' 22–23 June 2017 – Speaker Emeric Lhuisset
  • Research seminar – 15 March 2017 15:00–17:00 Scott Building, Room 102 – Speakers Fedra Dekeyser and Claudia Pilsl 
  • Research seminar – 10 May 2017 14:00–16:00 Scott Building, Room 102 – Speaker Esther Johnson 
  • Safekeeping bees – 'An inter-disciplinary exploration of the future for bees in Britain’ symposium 
  • Speakers: Nick Bentham-Green, Mark Edwards, Dr William Kirk, Professor Andrea Liggins, Amy Shelton – 18 January 2017

  • Journeys and Transmission – 16–17 June 2016
  • Traffic: movement / place / flow / mobility – 14–16 April 2016
  • Wilderness / Wildness symposium 
    Speakers: Liz Wells, Eva Cooney, Daro Montag, Jay Griffiths, Stephen Huggett, Temujin Doran and Angus Carlisle – 25–26 June 2015
  • Flow – 30 November to 26 December 2014
  • 2014 ‘Nocturnal’ symposium
    Speakers: Nick Alfrey, Angela Kingston, Susan Derges, Jem Southam, William Arnold, Milo Newman, Liz Nicol, Louisa Fairclough, Tabatha Andrews, Fergus Heron and Chrystel Lebas 
  • 2013 ‘Mapping’ symposium
    Speakers: David Chandler, Jean Delseaux, Caitlin Desilvey, Justin Partyka, Yan Preston, Susan Trangmar, Oliver Udy, Martin Warren, Pascale Weber and David Wyatt
  • 2012 ‘Water: Image’ International Conference Key note speakers: Deborah Bright (US), Per Bak Jensen (DK) and international speakers
  • 2011 ‘No Man’s Land’ symposium
    Speakers: Alev Adil, Anthony Haughey, Anne Noble, Emma Stibbon, Liz Wells and Anthony Caleshu
  • 2010 ‘Land and the Metaphysical’ symposium
    Speakers: David Williams, Jo Love and Mike Evans, David Rayson, Jane Grant and Peter Cusack
  • 2009 ‘Land and Expedition’ symposium
    Speakers: Anne Burke, Melanie Challenger, Neville Gabie, Vicky Long, Jorma Puranen and Stephen Vaughan 

Sally Waterman: Exhibition and seminar

'So Cheerio for Now', Stephen Lawrence Gallery, University of Greenwich, London (11 November - 16 December 2017)

Private View: Friday 10 November (6-8pm)

‘So Cheerio for Now’ features video and photographic works by Sally Waterman and Jacqueline Butler. Both artists use their personal archives as a source material, reflecting on familial relationships, love and mourning. Drawing on analogue photographic albums and hand written letters, each artist reconstructs fragmented narratives from their past. Having moved away from their family homeland as young women, the exhibition traces the recurring journeys they make to their ancestral homes of the Isle of Wight and Glasgow. 

Information on the University of Greenwich Galleries website

'Journeying Home' 2 December 2017

There will be a seminar event organised by the Family Ties Network on Saturday 2 December called 'Journeying Home' and will include presentations by Sally Waterman, Jacqueline Butler, Matthew Humphreys and Celine Marchbank. 

Further information and booking


Associated members

Artist in residence

  • Wayne Barrar - Massey University, Wellington, New Zealand
  • Deborah Bright 
  • Caroline Mcquarrie - Massey University, Wellington, New Zealand
  • Hantu (Pascale Weber - Sorbonne University, Paris and Jean Delseux - University of Clemont-Ferrand)


  • Lu La Buzz - PhD 
  • Fedra Dekeyser - PhD 
  • Jose Emanuel Bras - MPhil/PhD 
  • Laura Hopes - PhD
  • Karol Kwiatek - MPhil/PhD 
  • Claudia Pilsl - PhD 
  • Yan Preston - PhD 
  • David Wyatt - PhD

  • Nicola Curtis - MRes Photography, completed 2010
  • Jason Hirons - MRes Landscape, completed 2010
  • Kate Isherwood - MRes Photography, completed 2010
  • Jess Maslen - MRes Photography, completed 2010
  • Laurie Reynolds - MRes Photography, completed 2010
  • Martin Shaw - PhD, completed 2010
  • Sally Waterman - PhD, completed 2010