Professor Liz Wells

Professor Liz Wells

Professor in Photographic Culture

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


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

Key publications are highlighted

Wells EY 2010 'Enigmatic Landscapes' EXIT 38, 28-45
Wells L 2018 The Photography Reader History and Theory. London/New York Routledge
Wells EY 2011 Land Matters, landscape photography, culture and identity. London I B Tauris
Wells EY 2009 Photography, A Critical Introduction. 4 London Routledge
Wells EY 2018 'Frontiers of Vision: On Photographic Explorations, Identity and Myth' Yan Wang Preston Mother River Hatje Cantz ???-???
Wells EY 2018 '‘Histories and Imagination: narrative and metaphor in the work of John Kippin’' John Kippin , Based on a True Story, Works 1984-2018. Berlin Kerber,
Wells EY 2017 'Camera-Eye: Photography and Modernism' in Meecham P A Companion to Modern Art Chichester/New Jersey John Wiley and Sons Publisher Site
Wells EY 2017 'Imaging Nature: investigating change in the natural world' Chrystel Lebas - Field Studies Amsterdam Fw:books Publisher Site
Wells EY 2017 'Sedimentary Histories: On space and place in the photographs of Bleda y Rosa' Campos de batalla (2017). Valencia/Pamplona España Bombas Gens Centre d'Art, Museo Universidad Navarra y CGAC. Publisher Site
Wells EY 2016 'Essay' America's Endangered Coasts Photographs from Texas to Maine Staunton, VA George F Thompson Publishing /The American Land Publishing Project
Wells EY 2016 'Objects, Landscapes, Poetics' Jungjin Lee - Echo Leipzig FotoMuseum Winterthur/ Specter Books. Publisher Site
Wells EY 2014 'A Man of the North' Esko Männikkö - Time Flies Publisher Site
Wells EY 2014 'Modes of Investigation: On Photography and Environment' in Hedberg H; Knape G; Martinsson T; Wolthers L Broken: Environmental Photography Göteborg, Sweden Art and Theory Publishing. Gothenburg: University of Gothenburg, Hasselblad Foundation & Art and Theory Publishing
Wells EY 2012 'The Extraordinary Everyday' Marte Aas Oslo National Museum for Art, Architecture and Design 87 & 150-93 & 154
Wells EY 2011 'Potent Portraits: Michelle Sank's Photographs of People and Place' The Submerged Amsterdam Schilt
Wells EY 2011 'Questions of Distance' Temporal Taxonomy Nicosia Republic of Cyprus Ministry of Education and Culture 49-61
Wells EY 2009 'On and Beyond the White walls' Photography, A Critical Introduction London Routledge
Wells EY 2009 ''On and Beyond the White Walls; photography as art'' London Routledge 257-310
Wells EY 2009 ''Thinking about Photography: debates, historically and now'' London Routledge 9-64
Wells L 2007 'Curatorial strategy as critical intervention: The genesis of facing east' Issues in Curating Contemporary Art and Performance 29-44
Wells L 2003 'Icy prospects' Cultures and settlements: Advances in Art and Urban Futures Volume 3 105-120
Wells EY 0 'Poetics and Silence' Icy Prospects Ostfildern, Germany Hatje Cantz 19-30
0 Sense of Place. BOZAR 20120612 0 6
0 tbc. BOZAR, Brussels 20120601 0 tbc
0 Landscapes of Exploration. Peninsula Arts Gallery, Plymouth 20120210 0 tbc
0 House of Europe. council of the European Union, Brussels 20111201 0 54
0 Chrystel Lebas and SofijaSilvia, Conversations on Nature. Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Rijeka, Croatia 20110616 0 100 +
Other Publications
Wells EY 2016 Winds of Change. London Friends of the Royal Academy, 0 0

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.

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.