Professor Liz Wells

Professor Liz Wells

Emeritus Professor

School of Art, Design and Architecture (Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Business)

Liz can be contacted through arrangement with our Press Office, to speak to the media on these areas of expertise.
  • Photography
  • Film and video (experimental)
  • Exhibitions
  • Contemporary practice
  • Arts debate
  • Arts criticism
  • Art and environment

Member, Photography subject area.

Member, Research Committee, School of Art and Media;
Co-convenor, Research group for Land/Water and the Visual Arts, Faculty of Arts
Member, Photography research group


B Sc Soc. Sociology/Social Administration, University of Bristol, 1977

PG Dip film Studies, Polytechnic of Central London (University fo Westminster, 1985

MA Visual Culture, Bath Spa University, 1994

Professional membership

Fellow, Royal Society of Arts.
Member, Society of Authors

Member, European Society for the History of Photography;
Board of Directors, Society for Photographic Education, USA.

Roles on external bodies

Visiting Professor, Belfast School of Art.

Teaching interests

Member of teaching team for MA/MFA Photography.

PhD and M Res supervision. 

Teaching interests: Photography History and Theory; land, landscape and environment as related to photographic practices

Staff serving as external examiners

No current appointments for taught courses.

Available as an external for doctoral level submissions.


Research interests

Photography history, theory, criticism; contemporary photographic practices; Independent and Experimental Film and Video.

Land, Landscape and Environment; Image and Identity.

Research degrees awarded to supervised students

Gary Anderson, Ph D,

Sally Waterman, Ph D
Kayla Parker, Ph D

Kate Isherwood, M Res
Jess Maslen, M Res
Nicola Curtis, M Res
Jason Hirons, M Res
Laurie Reynolds, M Res
Cassandra Horsley, M Res

Grants & contracts

Visiting Research Fellow, Humanities Research Centre, Australian National University, Canberra.
Jan - Apr 2010

AHRB Small Grant awarded, 2003, to support research towards the exhibition, Facing East, Contemporary landscape Photography from Baltic Areas.

British Council funding,

2011 (Oct), keynote talk, symposium, Tallinn Photography Festival, Estonia

2011 (June), contribution to symposium ‘Chrystel Lebas and SofijaSilvia, In Conversation’,Rijeka, Croatia

2004  Chobi Mela 3, PhotographyFestival, Dhaka, Bangladesh. Public lecture,broadcast TV interview; also workshop at SE Asian Institute of Photography

2001  conference paper,  Why Pictures Now? - uses of photography, Bunkier SztukiKrakow, Poland 

Creative practice & artistic projects

2014               Curator, Flow, time, movement, change, SichuanFine Art Institute and Gallery 501, Chongqing, November 29 – December 26 (tour,Jia Jialing Gallery, Nanchong City, January 2015)

Curator , Light Touch, Baltimore Washington InternationalAirport, facilitated by Maryland Arts Place. February – June.

2012               GuestCurator, Sense of Place, contemporarylandscape photography. Brussels, Centre des Beaux Arts, June – September 2012;

            Curator , Landscapesof Exploration, recent British art from Antarctica, Peninsula Arts Gallery, Plymouth, February/March, and on tour (Scott Polar Research Institute, and Ruskin Gallery,       Cambridge, October - November 2013; University of the Arts, Bournemouth, January-                February 2015).

                       Curator,John Kippin and Chris Wainwright, FUTURELAND NOW, Laing               Gallery, Newcastle, Autumn

2011               Curator,Chrystel Lebas and SofijaSilvia,Conversations on Nature, Museum of           Modern and Contemporary Art, Rijeka, Croatia, June/July

2006              Curator, Uneasy Spaces, 80Washington Square East Galleries, New York, USA           13 th September – 1 st November 2006. (galleries at New York University)

2004-7            Curator, Facing East,contemporary landscape photography from Baltic areas, Bournemout Arts Institute; Impressions Gallery, York; Plymouth Arts Centre; The                                Lighthouse, Wolverhampton; DickInstitute, Kilmarnock; Tullie House Museum and Gallery,              Carlisle; Yard Gallery, Nottingham.

2000-1                    Co-Curator , ShiftingHorizons (for IRIS Women’sPhotography Project, Staffordshire

                       University),Birmingham Museum; Derby Museum & Gallery; Stoke on Trent Museum

1994-5                        Curator, Viewfindings, Newlyn Gallery, Penzance; Watershed,Bristol; National

                       Museumof Photography, Film and Theatre, Bradford; Zone Gallery, Newcastle

Since 2001:-


Co-editor    Photography andCyprus, London: I B Tauris, 2014

Editor         Futureland Now, work by John Kippin and Chris Wainwright. Plymouth: UPP, 2012

Editor         Landscapes of Exploration, British Art from Antarctica. Plymouth: UPP, 2012

Author,      LandMatters: Landscape Photography, Culture and Identity. London: I B Tauris,2011

Editor and co-author, Photography: A Critical Introduction, Routledge, 5th edition 2015. Chineseversion,       2012; Greek version, 2008; 4th ed 2009; 3rd ed2004, 2nd ed 2000 (shortlisted,The Reind M de                       Vries European Photography Prize 2001); 1st ed 1997;

Editor,      The Photography Reader. Routeldge, 2003; 2nd edition, in 2 volumes, forthcoming 2017.

Co-editor, Land Water symposia series,University of Plymouth Press, (with Simon Standing)                        Beauty, 2011, Relic, 2009; Fictions, 2008; Change, 2007, Surface, 2005

Co-editor,  ShiftingHorizons, Women’s Landscape Photography Now, I B Tauris,, 2000

Editor,     Viewfindings, Women Photographers,‘Landscape’ and Environment, AvailableLight, 1994


Co-editor, photographies,Routledge/Taylor and Francis Journals. Vol. 1, 2008 onwards.

Advisory group, Exposure,Society for Photographic Education, USA. (from Spring 2011)

Editor,    Camerawork 31, &32, 1985

Essays include

‘Modes of Investigation:On Photography and Environment’ in HansHedberg, Gunilla Knape, Tyronne Martinsson and Louise Wolthers (eds) (2014) Broken:Environmental Photography. Gothenburg: University of Gothenburg, HasselbladFoundation & Art and Theory Publishing.

“A Man of the North’, inEsko Männikkö, Time Flies, Helsinki Taidehalli,Spring 2014,

‘Silent Witness’ inOscar Palaccio, American Places, SanFrancisco: Chroma (CIIS), 2013

‘We were there’ inTheopisti Stylianou-Lambert, Tourists Who Shoot. (catalogue) Nicosia: 2013

‘Under the Shadow ofChange’ exhibition text, Isabelle Pateer, Unsettled,Photofusion, London, 2013

‘Meditations on Form and Flow’in Per Bak Jensen, Lost. Copenhagen: Galleri Bo Bjerggaard,2012

‘Beyond theExhibition, from Catalogue to Photobook’ in Di Bello, Wilson and Zamir eds.,The Photobook. London: I B Tauris. 2012

‘Questions of Distance’ in Yiannia Toumazis ed.  TemporaryTaxonomy. Nicosia: Republic of Cyprus Ministry of Education and Culture forCyprus Pavilion, Venice Biennale, 2011,

‘Potent Portraits’ in Michelle Sank, The Submerged. Schilt Publishing, 2011

‘Iceblink - In Search of aContemporary Sublime’ in Anne Noble, Spoolhenge,Antarctica.   UPP, 2011

Space in between:on Women and Landscape Photography in Britain’ in Johan Swinnen & Luc

                 Deneulin The Weight of Photography.  Brussels: Academic and Scientific Publishers,2010

 ‘Figures in a Landscape’ in Trine Søndergaard and Nicolai Howalt, How to Hunt.

      Ostfildern, Germany: Hatje Cantz, 2010

'Enigmatic Landscapes' in (2010) Silent Landscapes. Exit 38.  Madrid: Olivares &Associates S. L.

 'The Extraordinary Everyday' in (2010) Marthe Aas , film and photography. Oslo: National Museum for Art, Architecture and Design. Exhibition catalogue.

'Poetics and Silence’, in Jorma Puranen (2009) Icy Prospects. Ostfildern, Germany: Hatje Cantz

'Revisiting photography as art; in Anna Auer and Ute Schogl eds. (2008) Jubilee, 30 years ESHPh. Vienna: Fotohof edition

‘Curatorial strategy as critical intervention - The Genesis of Facing East’ in Judith Rugg, ed. (2007) Issues in Curating, Contemporary Art and Peformance, Bristol: Intellect. 

‘Darkening Days: a Critical Scenario in Three Acts’ in John Darwell, Dark Days, Stockport: Dewi Lewis, 2007

‘Jorma Puranen’, in Breaking the Ice, Contemporary Art from Finland. Bonn: Kunstmuseum, 2006

Entry writer, R Lenman, ed., The Oxford Companion to the Photograph, OUP, 2005

'Martin Pover, “Carceri”’, Portfolio 41, 2005                               

''Land Matters', Simone Kadi ed. (2003) Loisirs et Société britannique au xxeme siecle, Recherche Valenciennes No. 13, Presses Universitaires de Valenciennes.

'Icy Prospects', Malcolm Miles and Nicola Kirkham eds. (2003) Cultures and Settlements, Bristol: Intellect Books

'Then and Now, some notes on photography and theory' Source 33, Winter 2002, Belfast: Source

'Paradoxes of the Pastoral', John Kippin (2001) Cold War Pastoral, London: Black Dog Publishing

'Monstrous Beauty', catalogue for Su Grierson, Eyeshine, Street Level Gallery, Glasgow, 2001

Reviews and review articles include:
David Campany (2003) Art and Photography, Source 36, Autumn 2003, Belfast: Source
Terry Barrett (2002) Interpreting Art, for Journal of Visual Communication, Vol 3, No 1, 2004, London: Sage

Reports & invited lectures

Invited lectures since 2001 include:

Keynote lecture, 'Topographic Narratives', Cyprus international conference on photography, Nov 2010.

Public lecture, Braga photography festival, October 2010 (theme, Landscape)

Public lecture, Oslo, Museum of Art, Architecture and Design, September 2010: 'Reality Check', public talk in response to the installation of new work by Marthe Aas.

Monash University, Melbourne, 2010, 'Sun-Baked', research work-in-progess talk
Centre for Contemporary Photography, Melbourne, 2010, public talk - Topographic Narratives'

FotoGuanajuato, Mexico, 2006, keynote lecture, 'Image and Memory'
Natinal Photography Museum, Horten, Norway, 2005, symposium, 'What is a Photomuseum?'
Chobi Mela (Bphotography festival, Dhaka, Bangladesh), December 2004 'Jorma Puranen'

Zonezero (online photography journal, tenth anniversary conference, Mexico City, September 2003: '21st Century Cave Paintings - Online as Archive?'

National Museum of Contemporary Art, Oslo, May 2003: 'Thinking about Photographs: some considerations'

(Subsequently delivered at the University of Industrial Arts, Helsinki, September 2003; and at New York University, March 2004.)

European Society for the History of Photography, annual conference, Maastricht, November 2002: 'In-Between: Women and Landscape' (Subsequently delivered to graduate symposium on landscape phototgraphy, University of Wales, Caerleon, May 2002:)

Bunkier Sztuki, Krakow, Poland, May 2001,: 'Some Reflections on Debates about Photography' for symposium on Why Pictures Now? - uses of photography

University of Miami, February 2001: 'Women and Landscape' for postgraduate programme, Fine Art and Photographic Studies.

Conferences organised

Conferences and symposia: organization

Land/Water and the Visual Arts research group symposia, Faculty of Arts, University of Plymouth, June 2003, June 2004, June 2005, June 2006, June 2007, June 2008, June 2009 (co-organiser, Heidi Morstang), July 2010 (co-organiser, Heidi Morstang). Symposia continue on an annual basis, organized by various members of the research group for Land/Water and the Visual Arts.

Arts Strand, Rural Futures conference, PU, 2008 (with Professor Jem Southam)
Re-framing time and Place, Land/.Water conference on re-photography, April 2009 (co-organisers, Professor Jem Southam, Dr Simon Standing)
Water: Image, Land/Water conference, July 2012 (co-organisers, Professor Jem Southam; Heidi Morstang)
Of the Earth, Land/Water and NEPN conference (co-organisers, NEPN)
Traffic, Land2 research network and Land/Water (co-organiser, Stephen Felmingham, PCA for Land2)

Other academic activities

Peer reviewer, conference on Emergent Landscapes, University of Westminster, 2010

Advisor and peer reviewer, International Photography and Theory conferences, Nicosia, Cyprus (2012; 2014; 2016).

Peer reviewers, special issue on Canadian Landscapes, Imaginations, journal of cross-cultural image studies, University of Alberta, Canada.

Academic referee or reviewer, various promotion applications, nationally and internationally.

Additional information

Co-editor, photographies, London: Routledge journals. First issue, Spring 2008.

Editorial Advisory Group, Visual Communications, London: Sage
Editorial Advisory Group, Visual Culture in Britain, Manchester: University of Manchester Press.