Dr Laura Denning
School of Art, Design and Architecture (Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Business)
I am a transdisciplinary artist working across film, sound, social participation and installation, often using mark-making and walking as experimental methodologies. Most of my work aims to reveal novel insights that can contest familiar ways of thinking about people, place and sensation. Recipient of the inaugural scholarship in Environmental Humanities at Bath Spa University, I was recently awarded my Doctorate. This practice-led research positioned art practice within experimental geography in order to open up the registers within which art might operate, and to foreground the environmental and ecological focus of my art practice.
PhD Environmental Humanities, Bath Spa University 2022
PGDip – Teaching/Learning in HE, University of Plymouth 2000
MA Social History of Art, University of Leeds 1990
BA (hons) Fine Art 2:1, Manchester Metropolitan University 1989
· ASLE (Association for the study of Literature and the Environment
· AAG (Association of American Geographers)
· Axisweb (National Artists Network)
· Associate Artist – art.earth
Associate Lecturer - BA (Hons) Creative Media
My teaching interests are ultimately student focused rather than subject specific, aiming to support students to find their own creative voice and to underpin their enquiries with robust scholarly research.
My practice-led PhD presented three major bodies of work in response to Neimanis’s seminal essay Hydrofeminism (2012) demonstrating how Hydrofeminism can be extended beyond its textual reference. The work mobilised the concept of the ecotone to bring difference and connectivity into creative works which proposed a watery relationality. By harnessing the communicative capacity of British Sign Language I rendered silence as a text that could be read, and demonstrated that the ecotone can convey multiple meanings and offer new insights into embodiment and affect. Within this research I also positioned the body as a location, mobilising watery exchanges as inscriptions of both difference and connectivity.
Cultural Investment Fund/Plymouth Culture Commissioned Researcher: Cine Sisters SW were funded for 12 months to investigate ways to improve the access that refugees and asylum seekers in Plymouth have to the cultural sector Jan-Dec 2022
In May 2020 (during Lockdown) I set up a support group for women film makers in the South West – Cine Sisters SW (CSSW), in response to my experience of working in the sector to produce a short (ACE funded) film called Manual for Nomads (2020). CSSW launched at Plymouth Art Weekender with curated screenings, Q&As and online networking, all events sold out, September 2020. We now have over 250 members. CSSW registered the organisation as a Community Interest Company (CIC) in December 2020, and had 3 Directors. I resigned in January 2023 to pursue my own practice. CSSW secured our first major funding award (Arts Council England £15k) and over £20k in support-in-kind from cultural partnerships.
Future Communities/Sprite Arts, collaborative take-over of city centre shop, Plymouth (July -December) Funded by Plymouth Culture and Plymouth City Council
Brigstow Institute (Bristol University) Recipient of seed funding for Seeing the invisible, hearing the inaudible: revealing estuarine mysteries through art and science. This pilot research project is an art/science collaboration with South Devon AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty), and the School of Biological Sciences, Bristol University, Our first event involved engaging residents within the catchment in a twilight event to understand what barriers people perceive in engaging with the site after dark (Ongoing)
Palimpsest - Movement & Correspondences of wetness Dr. Deepta Sateesh (Srishti Manipal Institute, Bangalore) and I continue to develop an experimental exploration of the body as a sensory, moving being learning and grasping the environment (it) is engaged in and with. Drawing upon work developed in our ongoing collaboration, we inhabit ecotones/thresholds that are experimental (and spatio-temporal), to articulate through movement the ontology of being in the in-between. We will inhabit the threshold without seeking to reference being between two worlds. We presented our work in progress at Sentient Performativities at Schumacher College in June.
Immersion (Plymouth University/Marine Institute) Collaboration with Dr. Eva Magrath, a geographer, to develop pilot project to consider the relationship between sea swimming and sense of self in/on Plymouth’s coastal strand. Our project aimed to make visible the invisible narratives within and around Firestone Bay. Final work was exhibited at Sprite Arts Plymouth July 2022
Performance lecture with Dr. D. Sateesh: ‘Temporal Wanderings – Tactics for an Embodied Methodology’ presented at ‘Phenomenal Time - Perceiving Ecological Temporalities’ as part of the Edinburgh Environmental Humanities Network seminar series (November 2021).
September 2021: In collaboration with Dr. Deepta Sateesh we presented at this years’ Royal Geographical Society annual conference with a video presentation on the theme of Wet Ontologies, for the panel – ‘Ecopedagogies from the Intertidal Zone’ which explores parallels between the Erme Estuary (UK) and the Kundapura estuary in the state of Karnataka (India).
September 2021: In collaboration with Dr. Deepta Sateesh – presented collaborative creative practice at ‘Multiple Ecologies, Diverse Ontologies: More Just, More Sustainable Futures, University of Plymouth https://morejustfutures.art/
May 2021: Presentation of creative work at Texas A&M University at Galveston Estuaries and the Anthropocene
April 2021: Illustrated poem in SFRA (Science Fiction Research Association Journal): ‘The Underside of Time’ https://sfrareview.org/2021/04/22/the-underside-of-time/
Temporal Belongings – The Material Life of Time – online conference hosted by University of Edinburgh, March 2021: presentation of filmworks – The Underside of Time
Art & The Anthropocene – Culture, Climate and Our Changing Planet, virtual seminar series hosted by the University of York, March 2021: joint presentation with Dr. Suzi Richer; Sounds of Sampling.
Pandemic Imaginaries – Living in the End of Times – online conference hosted by Cappadocia University, Turkey, January 2021: presentation of filmworks – The Underside of Time
Grants & contracts
- Arts Council England Developing Your Creative Practice Award £10k July 2019
- Access Space Residency 2019 – Shortlisted 300 > 8
- Jerwood Arts Bursaries 2019 shortlisted
- AN Bursaries 2019 – Recipient of the Artists Development Awards (£1500)
- Exeter University Arts & Culture Commissions 2019 – Shortlisted 100 > 3
- Gala (Global Academy of Liberal Arts):
- University of Udine, Italy April 2017 Eco- Sustainable Narratives and Environmental Concerns
- Selected participant for summer school at the University of Utrecht with Rosi Braidotti: Posthuman Ethics in the Anthropocene August 2017
- Fleuve collaborating with Eric Powell of Concordia University Montreal, on a project which explores the social and environmental ecologies of the St. Lawrence River(CA) and the River Severn (UK) Our first site visit was July 2018, the second was February 2019.
- Srishti Institute, Bangalore 2018 – selected for fully funded Interim residency
- Visual Arts Plymouth 2018 – Local Participation Commission £3k for Hydrosapien
- Arts Council England 2018 - £10k project funding for Hydrosapien
- Bath Spa Environmental Humanities Research Grant 2018 – towards Rhyne & Huish walkshops
- Bath Spa Postgraduate Award – towards attendance at various international conferences 2017-2019
- Harbutt Fund 2017 – for development of sound work for Rhyne & Huish
- Selected Participant in the CREST Summer School, Wellcome Institute, London (Leadership and Research Collaboration) September 2017
- Porthleven Prize 2018 – one of 14 artists selected for fully funded residency
- Plymouth City Council 2017 – 50% funding for Benthic Caress
- KTH Seedbox Linkoping University 2017 – for attendance at International workshop on Writing the Environmental Humanities (Undisciplined Discipline)
- Bath Spa University 2016 – inaugural recipient of the PhD Studentship in Environmental Humanities (Fee Waiver)
Creative practice & artistic projects
Exhibition/Installation: Ductus – a work in progress. Sprite Arts Plymouth, August 2022
Short film 'Forest' included in Geumgang Nature Art Biennale Video Exhibition, South Korea. August - November 2022
Leverhulme Centre for Anthropocene Biodiversity – University of York (June 2022 - May 2023) I am one of 4 artists commissioned for this 12 month long residency, working with Chantal Berry whose PhD focuses upon acoustic ecology, or the sounds and rhythms of human-nature relationships between c.1500-c.1800. In particular, the spiritual and physical journey through York Minster is a major focus, anchoring the project within the parameters of cathedral as forest, forest as cathedral. This coupling combines our shared focus on the concept of Ductus, from medieval Christian tradition, as a structure for a sonic pilgrimage through the imposing stone forest of the cathedral. We aim to lead listeners into an embodied environment where human-nature entanglements acknowledge and perhaps embrace spiritual dimensions within them. Ductus is a journey, a dynamic process that denies the possibility of comprehending space as static.
Presentation of creative practice as part of city-wide engagement with British Art Show 9 with CAMP (Contemporary Arts Membership Plymouth). February 2022
Wolf Flow – Dr. Helen Billinghurst and I have come to understand that our separate lines of enquiry intersect at a remote village on Dartmoor: Harford. Both research paths are anchored to physical routes on the ground. We have begun to collaborate on these intersections, in a slowly unfolding project called Wolf Flow (a hetero palindrome – both words create the other when spelled backwords). We shared initial insights into the sensory, folkloric, geographic, historic and ecological weavings of these intersecting trails at Cappadocia University, Turkey (May 22) and Sentient Performativities at Schumacher College (June 22).
Work selected for Photoworks publication Photography+. November 2021 issue https://photoworks.org.uk/photography-plus/
November 2021: All day screening of Phyx at Exeter Phoenix. Durational film exploring overlapping themes of environmental and social justice through moving painting. https://exeterphoenix.org.uk/events/laura-denning-phyx/?fbclid=IwAR3SL1AiqnaaQ3km_iJGId8R2FYT4vHv8uWrtc-SyNrSAxBMZUT923cOzxs
Work included in Video Art and Experimental Film Event, SEA Foundation, Tilburg, Netherlands summer 2021 https://www.seafoundation.eu/vaefe-walk-in-cinema-screening-event-short-films-experimental-video-first-edition/
September 2021: Commission for Beastly Landscapes ‘We are all Beasts’ 5 minute Artists Moving Image piece for Newcastle University’s Centre for Research Excellence in Landscape.
August 2021: Erme Trace Overnight Residency: self-initiated artists gathering on the banks of the upper Erme, to experiment with creative responses to the site, whilst the full moon rises. Outcome One: soundwork broadcast on https://www.soundartradio.org.uk/programmes/morningconnections/
Commission for The Arts Institute, Plymouth University – ‘The Underside of Time’ moving image work responding to the theme ‘ Everything has changed. Nothing has changed. Change is coming’. Nov 2020
Arts Council England Recipient of COVID 19 Emergency Funding, to develop digital and technical expertise to support the creation of short experimental moving image works. June 2020
Tagore International Film Festival | Outstanding Achievement Awards in 4 categories: Debut Film-maker, Films on Disability, Short Films, Women’s Films, for Manual for Nomads. April 2020
Alumni Show, screening of Manual for Nomads, Bath School of Art & Design March 2020
- · September 2019 Go Rewild Yourself – participatory project for Plymouth Art Weekender
- · MayJune 2019 – ArtdotEarth – Dartington ‘Rhyne & Huish’ exhibition of prints
- · December 2018 - Rangoli Arts Centre, Bangalore – performance,
- · September 2018 – Hydrosapien Local Participation Commission with Plymouth Art Weekender
- · May 2018 – Art Week Exeter – Canteen
- · April 2018 – BEAF – Bournemouth Emerging Arts Festival
- · September 2018 – Benthic Caress – Silent Disco in the Sea, part of Plymouth Art Weekender.
- · May 2017 Primordial - group show curated by me as part of Fringe Arts Bath
- · Feb 2017 Liquid II- group show curated by me, Arts Quarter Budapest
- · October 2016 Art Language Location - Cambridge
- · October 2016 Sonic works broadcast on Radio Revolten International Radio Art Festival Halle, Germany
- · September 2016 - Cremyll Ferry Sound Piece & Aquatic Traffic production, Plymouth Art Weekender
- · August 2016 Hot Water screened as part of The Geumgang Nature Art Biennale Korea
- · Sept 2016 Multi-screening for Place, Ecology & the Digital, DRHA, University of Brighton
- · June 2016 Liquid - group show curated by me, Fringe Arts Bath
- · May 2016 Submersive Testimony - Media Wall, Bath Spa University
- · Nov 2016 Sanctum Bristol – sound installation ‘The Underheard’
- · August 2015 Raw Catalyst Ruskin Gallery, Anglia Ruskin University
- · Nov 2019 Art-Science hothouse residency: hosted by art.earth, CCANW and Science Walden
- · November 2018 – Srishti School of Art &Design, Bangalore
- · July 2018 – Concordia University, Montreal. Funded by GALA network.
- · June 2018 - Global Nomadic Art Project at Schumacher College, UK. ‘The Ephemeral River’
- · March 2018 - Porthleven Prize, residency with BSAD
Chapter in ‘Rethinking Creativity in the Era of Ecocide. Embodiment, Performance and Practice’ Bloomsbury 2023. Interim: Bodies as Sensory Data Collectors: This essay describes the creative processes, and the thinking behind them, that this iteration of Interim employed. Overlapping concerns - focused upon our intra-relations with more-than-human others and upon crafting forms of resistance and renewal in the face of ecological crisis – make Interim a contribution to the growing body of practices and literatures which might help us to think through the relationships between art, ecocide and activism.
Chapter in EnCOUnTErs (ecoacoustics and the more-than-human) ACE funded publication 2023. The Ascent of Woman – this essay reflects upon a short film I made during a residency entitled ‘Ephemeral River’ hosted by GNAP (Global Nomadic Art Project, funded by the Korean Ministry of Culture), for which I was one of 12 selected artists, and is included in a publication of the same name. The film is a playful take on the title of a 1972 publication by Elaine Morgan entitled ‘The Descent of Woman’ which proposes the aquatic ape theory of evolution. The film seeks to show that moment when ‘woman’ moves from a wet environment onto dry land for the first time. However, it is the sound track that makes clear that viewers are witnessing a moment from archaeological time (Morgan sets her study within the Pliocene, between 5.333 million to 2.58 million years ago). The soundtrack is the focus of this essay.
Chapter in Special Issue of Geohumanities (Official Journal of the Association of American Geographers) Ecotone as methodology: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/2373566X.2021.1923404
Illustrated poem in SFRA (Science Fiction Research Association Journal): ‘The Underside of Time’ https://sfrareview.org/2021/04/22/the-underside-of-time/Creative Practice featured in ‘Culture, Community, Climate’ art.earth 2020
· Book review of ‘Aesthetics of the Undersea’ in Green Letters, Taylor & Francis 2020
· Chapter in Monsoon Waters – 2019 University of Westminster
· Book Review ‘Routledge handbook of gender and environment’ Green Letters, Taylor & Francis 2019
· Chapter in ‘Imagining Islands: Visual Culture in the Northern British Archipelago’ Co-authored (with Prof. Owain Jones) Routledge 2018
· Book Review in Green Letters (Routledge November 2018)
· Creative Practice featured in Yatoo GNAP publications (Korea) Water (2016) Wind (2018)
· Creative Practice featured in ‘Ephemeral River’ art.earth (GNAP 2018)
· Book Review: ‘Tree’ in Green Letters, Taylor & Francis 2018
Guest Lecture, Centre for Environmental Humanities, University of Bristol, January 2019
AAG Washington DC, April 2019
Environmental Arts Practice Research conference, University of Plymouth, April 2019
EUGEO Annual Conference, Galway, May 2019
Nordic Geographers Conference, Trondheim, June 2019
Art in the age of the Anthropocene and Ecocide, Bath Spa University, June 2019
Flows of Entanglement, ASLE, University of Plymouth, September 2019
Seeing Sound: Practice-Led Research Symposium, Bath Spa University, March 2018
RGS-IBG Postgraduate Forum Mid-Term Conference, Royal Holloway University London, April 2018
Monsoon Waters, University of Westminster, April 2018
Marine Transgressions, Bristol, June 2018
Liquidscapes, Dartington, June 2018
RGS-IBG Annual International Conference, August 2018
The role of the arts and creative practice in addressing critical global challenges. UWE, October 2018
Feminist Approaches to a Changing Climate AAG, AGM, Boston, April 2017
Future Imperfect – sound, cinema and the moving image. Plymouth University, April 2017
Contributor: LIVING TOGETHER ON THIS EARTH University of Udine, Italy, April 2017
Digital Ecologies and the Anthropocene – Bath Spa University, April 2017
In Other Tongues: creating metaphysics, embodying language, Schumacher College, June 2017
Mediating Climate Change international, multidisciplinary conference, Leeds University, July 2017
Sound + Environment 2017 Art | Science | Listening | Collaboration University of Hull, July 2017
Association of Commonwealth Universities Summer School – Bath Spa University, August 2017
University of Utrecht with Rosi Braidotti: Posthuman Ethics in the Anthropocene, August 2017
Selected Participant CREST, Wellcome Institute, (Leadership and Research Collaboration), September 2017
Beyond Nature/Artifice, III INSULA International Colloquium, Universidade da Madeira, November 2017