• Photography Research Group

The Photography research group includes members who are writers and artists as well as photographers. Its interests range across a number of research themes that are both national and international in nature. For example, one key strand of its work is focused on long-term projects both in Eastern Europe, centring on utopian expressions of urbanism, and in Salford, Greater Manchester, examining the effects of gentrification on local communities and public space. Another is focussed around a number of recognised projects within contemporary photographic practice and incorporates publishing, live events, site specific installations and writing. The group’s interests include also a focus on researching the experience of photography students, together with ways of making that experience more holistic. Work in this area is led by John Aitken.

Expertise and Subject Areas

The Photography research area is led by John Aitken. Aitken works collaboratively with his partner Jane Brake (see, for example, The Politics of Space and Place (Cambridge Scholars, 2012). Their work combines ethnographic methods with forms of visual research to explore contemporary articulations of place. Most recently (April 2013) Aitken was invited to take part in a group show, Issues of Urbanisation, at the Guangdong Museum of Art.


For the photography group research and practice are an integrated whole. Their work continues to have impact in the world outside academia on a number of fronts.


Brian J Morrison exhibited a series of photographic sculptures at the Warsaw Photography Festival, Poland in 2015. The Main Programme in Warsaw galleries featured thirteen individual projects selected through a competition addressed to visual artists, covering themed photographic projects and multimedia forms with the use of photographs and /or video that visually analyze and problematize the idea of masculinity.

Brian presented a selected number of photographs used in advertisements from Muscle and Fitness (1980 to 89) outside of their original visual context. The cut-out images in Ripped, Chiselled and Rock Hard have not been manipulated and remain as they were found in their magazine, with no alterations made other than enlarging the image after tracing its outline and removing it from its background.

This was Brian’s first international exhibition having displayed his work previously in the UK and Ireland. This work has received international media attention and was on show until mid December 2015


8 November 2016, 4-6pm, UCLan, Preston, Lancashire

As part of the Great Northern Creative Festival photographer Ian Beesley and poet Ian McMillan use original magic lantern projectors to tell a story of the First World War from the point of view from the men and women who survived it and lived on to old age.

While Ian Beesley was working as artist in residence at Moor Psychiatric Hospital in Lancaster in the 1990’s, where the majority of patients suffered from some form of dementia, he came across a drawer full of reading glasses and another full of photographs. Some patients had been in the hospital for decades and for those who had died with no living relatives, their last few possessions were placed carefully into these drawers. Many of the photographs were related to the First World War, and the reading glasses were the glasses they must have used to look at their fading photographs perhaps to attempt to pull back some fading memory. ‘Magic Lantern Tales’ features original photography by Ian Beesley and captures final memories and reflections on the changing world these people had lived through and grown old in.

This is a not-to-be missed event of first-hand storytelling, photography and poetry exploring memory and remembrance. The show has been touring since 2014 around the UK, including the Imperial War Museum North for Armistice Day and at the Imperial War Museum London for the commemoration of the beginning of the Battle of the Somme.


As part of John Aitken’s research examining the spatial effects of gentrification on local communities in Salford, UK, The Institute of Urban Dreaming (IUD) is hosting a one-day Arts Council funded conference examining how contemporary art practices engage with the current housing crisis.

Date: Friday 18th November 10.00 - 4.00

Venue: People's History Museum (PHM), Coal Store Conference Room, Manchester, M3 3ER

The event will consist of a series of talks and round table discussions. It aims to consider the encounter between art and housing in a critical, trans-disciplinary way. It will consider housing and art practice before & beyond the current trend for socially engaged art. It will also debate the ethics and politics of practices that relate to gentrification and displacement.

For more information about the IUD visit their website.

This conference is part of IUDs public events that coincide with their show at the People's History Museum 'Promising Home' at the PHM between October 31st - January 12, 2017.


The Fieldwork Photography Forum is to be an annual free event in November of each year. It is a part of the Great Northern Creative Festival run by the School of Journalism, Media and Performance. Fieldwork is a 'beacon event' that welcomes photographers, local people, FE and HE students and alumni from around the country to take part in two days of talks, discussions and workshops based on a range of photographic practices. It is part of the School’s programme to connect with a wider audience in a range of communities.

This year The Fieldwork Photography Forum hosted over 150 people to a programme that included discussions on drone photography, the history of contemporary photographic curation in the UK, to talks by such prominent photographers as Peter Kennard and Magnum's Ian Berry. For information on next years event contact jaitken@uclan.ac.uk

Fieldwork Photography Forum Poster (pdf .367kb)
Fieldwork Photography Forum Postcard (pdf .263kb)

As part of the Great Northern Creative Festival the Photography Research Group are holding a Fieldwork Photography Symposium on November 9th. Fieldwork is made up of a series of talks by photographic practitioners on the theme of the urban image. The talks start at 9.30 and end at 4.30 with time for breaks, discussion, networking and lunch. The talks will take place in Greenbank Lecture Theatre on the university main Preston campus.

Alongside the day of talks is an exhibition of photographic work on the same theme held at the PR1 Gallery in the university’s Victoria Building. The Symposium lunch will be held upstairs in PR1.

At the Symposium the second volume of ‘North’ will be launched. North is a magazine showcasing the outputs by UCLan's photographic students, alumni and staff. This volume is based on the same theme as the Symposium.

For more details on the event check the Photography areas blog https://photouclan.com/

See the current itinerary

Courses and Postgraduate Study

The School has a growing community of UK and international students working on taught Masters . The Photography team welcomes applications from those wishing to undertake postgraduate research.

MA Photography Postcard pdf (.207kb)
MA Photography Leaflet pdf (.577kb)




John van Aitken is Course Leader for the BA and MA Photography routes at UCLan. Since 2001 his research practice has centred on urban-based photography. Currently his work examines the spatial effects of gentrification on local communities in both Guangzhou, China and in Salford, UK. He works collaboratively with his partner Jane Brake (MMU) http://iudblog.org/ . Their work is included in the book The Politics of Space and Place (Cambridge Scholars 2012). He is currently a doctoral researcher at the Centre for Research and Education in Arts and Media (CREAM), University of Westminster. He leads the Photography research group.

Brian J Morrison is an artist based in Birmingham. His recent work has been exhibited in both the UK and Europe. Solo exhibitions include, Ripped Chiselled and Rock Hard (Warsaw Photography Festival, Poland 2015). Phallacy (Standpoint Gallery London 2015) and NO PAIN NO GAIN!!! (Supercollider, Blackpool 2014). His current research explores the representation of the male body in contemporary society and has presented Marketing Muscle: The disruptive gaze at gender conferences in both Leeds and Chester University. Brian is also a cinematographer and has produced 16 documentary shorts, exploring the photographic archive, the notion of ‘conceptual photography’ and photography’s relationship with literature.

Adam Mead is a photographer, artist and educator based in the North West. His research slides in to two facets; photography and pedagogy. The nature of his photographic research lies in the photographs’ relationship with the real, looking at specific sites of investigation where cultural meanings are made and debated. Recent outputs include a video commission collaboration with Theo Simpson for RIBA ‘Palladio: The good, the Bad and the Unexpected’ (RIBA Gallery 2015). His pedagogical research takes place in collaboration with another member of the Photography team, David Dennison and is based in the processes and environments which create communities of practise, specifically centred on level 3 and 4 students. Adam is also a contributor to American Suburb X, TENT & The Photographers’ Gallery.

David Dennison is an active member of the research group. His research focuses primarily on pedagogic issues, specifically those involving student-centred concerns around integration, curriculum design and feedback. David and another member of the photography team, Adam Mead, have presented their research findings at a number of conferences in the UK and abroad – at the GLAD conference in February 2014 they presented their work on Studio learning, expert technical staff and the curriculum and at the Sheffield Hallam Learning & Teaching Conference in June 2014 their talk focussed on the Holistic Curriculum. This was followed by a contribution to the 7th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation in Seville, November 2014, which discussed further research on ‘Approaches to a Holistic Curriculum in Undergraduate Education’. David’s most recent research on assessment & feedback was presented at the International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation in Seville, November 2015.

Mark Reeves is a photographer based in the UK, his research falls into two areas commercial collaborations for publishing and photographic personal projects. Working on client led briefs for a variety of projects within the design industry, published work includes collaborative book projects such as ‘Silverlining - The art of Furniture’ (2008) exhibited in Monaco, New York and Moscow, ‘Design, Innovation and 21st century Craftsmanship’ (2009), ‘Future Perfect’ (2011) exhibited at ‘gallery 8’ London and new York design week and ‘Linley Collaborations’ (2013) exhibited at London design week. Projects were Investigating Passion, innovation and craftsmanship in furniture making within the contemporary environment where technology meets tradition. Marks other research interests are centred around man-made objects or the built environment, exploring architectural spaces and human impact on the landscape. Recently exhibited projects include ‘Pleasure Prom’ (2014) investigating regenerated spaces along Blackpool Promenade; presented at ‘Mediating the North conference 2015’ and ‘Light Spaces’ (2013). Marks work can be found at www.markitecture.co.uk

Jonathan Purcell is a photographer and lecturer based in the Manchester UK and Berlin DE. Research interests include looking at the nature of portraiture and the 'psychology of human display’, where social and personal dynamics interplay when one confronts, and is confronted with the camera. http://jonathanpurcell.co.uk

Das Alltägliche 25 Years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, which historically marked the beginning of capitalism's flow into the east, Berlin's spaces have become occupied by economic rather that overtly political factors. This work documents the flux and continual change within an urban environment, through fashion, landscape and social space. With the cameraphone, which is both a democratic tool of citizen journalism and conversely one of surveillance, I explore the impact of these changes in two European cities. http://purcelljonathan.tumblr.com Jonathan has worked as the stills photographer photographing for All Rites Reversed. ‘One Long Journey’ to be released in 2016 http://www.allritesreversed.co.uk/one-long-journey.html

Daniel Tierney the research of photographer and designer Daniel Tierney focuses on the crossover between artistic and documentary practice, examining their interaction through realism and staged reconstruction. His recent exhibition Art.Work explored the mediating role played by the work of art, elaborating on the interplay between existence and form and problematising the relationship between image and narrative, subject and object, artist and beholder. Using a range of tools including narrative stimulus, re-enactment and staged still life, the project sought to examine the immanent components of both art and the 'the work' of art. These same themes have influenced Daniel's commercial fashion portfolio, which seeks to question the assumptions of realism, fantasy and narrative. www.danieltierney.co.uk

Jo Garrett is the photography technician for the MA, BA and foundation photography courses at UCLan. Jo has lectured in both photography and video production at FE and HE level, and currently lectures part time at a partnership college.

Her current research interests include experimental/alternative darkroom techniques, architecture, environmental portraiture and archival experimental photographic techniques. In particular working in conjunction with Lancashire Archives.

Jo has also exhibited at several regional and national photography exhibitions.