We are very pleased to announce that Dr Sara Davidmann and Hannah Rickards, researchers at University of the Arts London, have been awarded Philip Leverhulme Prizes in Visual and Performing Arts. It is a major achievement for UAL to be awarded two of these highly prestigious prizes, awarded to outstanding researchers whose work has already attracted international recognition and whose future career is exceptionally promising.
Sara Davidmann is a Senior Research Fellow at London College of Communication (LCC) and a member of Photography and the Archive Research Centre (PARC). Sara completed a practice-based PhD in Photography at LCC in 2007 (AHRC Doctoral award-funded). This was followed by a three-year AHRC Fellowship in the Creative and Performing Arts. In 2009, she was awarded a further AHRC Research Grant and a Wellcome Trust Small Grant in 2011. In 2013 Sara founded the UAL Gender and Sexuality Research Forum.
Sara chose to study and then work at UAL because of its reputation as a world-leading arts institution and LCC specifically for its excellence in Photography. “UAL has a very stimulating environment in which to work and I have been impressed by the…lively debates which arise, cutting across disciplines, and the intersections between the work of other researchers and my own have resulted in some very exciting collaborations”.
Sara’s current research constitutes an investigation of her family archive and a family secret that came to light in the 1950s – that her uncle Ken was transgender. This was at a time when very little was known about being transgender. A second research thread configures around photographic portraits and oral histories, carried out in collaboration with transgender people. Concerns of equality and diversity underpin my work.
Image: Ken. To be destroyed. Sara Davidmann 2014 Image: Ken. To be destroyed. Sara Davidmann 2015
Sara uses alternative photography processes that combine early film and contemporary digital methods. These include wet plate collodion and silver gelatin printing with hand colouring, chemigrams, making digital negatives and producing fictional photographs. Sara uses methods that enable experimentation and chance. “Working in this way means that I am constantly being surprised and challenged”.
Looking forward, Sara says,
The Philip Leverhulme Prize will enable me to complete a new body of work using private and public archives.
Hannah is a Lecturer at CSM, she is an artist examining the auditory, visual and spatial relationships of a specific event. Hannah studied in the 4D Pathway on the BA Fine Art at CSM (graduating in 2002) so she has had a long-standing relationship with CSM.
Hannah made her last work, Grey light. Left and right back, high up, two small windows (2014) in relation to several residencies on Fogo Island, Newfoundland between 2011 and 2015. Specific location is important to Hannah’s work, for an atmospheric occurrence or particular landscape; she has traveled to Alaska and northern British Columbia for her work.
There are different kinds of challenges that research work can present. Some of those challenges are very welcome and are the stuff that work is made from – the challenge itself of making things in the world. I make work because I want to think about something, or through something, and that is a process of challenge in many respects, but obviously for me a very positive one.
Other challenges such as trying to find time and resources to make work have been more problematic in the past – the great joy and privilege of this Phillip Leverhulme Prize is that it now affords me both of those for a period of time.
Image: Still of Grey light Left and right back, high up, two small windows (2014)
Hannah is excited to be working at The Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC) during the early part of 2016 because its incredible facilities and staff and the conditions will allow her to test and work with some more speculative ideas. She will be spending an initial Production Residency there in January 2016, she will be working on a single-screen moving image work with a cable-suspended camera system. The system can be manoeuvred through three dimensions to all points within the volume of the studio.
Hannah explains “within the confines of a very specific performance space [the work] will look at the shifting and dynamic relationship between figure and landscape, through two distinct yet intersecting choreographed paths: the movement of the camera and the movement of performers”.
Depending on the piece and the context Hannah often works with a team of people: participants, performers, production crew. Hannah makes work through a discursive process,“there is maybe an initial clarity of intention in what the ‘container’ of the work will be, or a set of parameters, but that structure is always in dialogue with what arises throughout the process of making the work. And, that is informed often by the groups of people I work with”. These discussions about the work happen with a number of people: friends, colleagues, her assistant/producer.
“It’s an important process for me, as I’m sure it is for many other artists and researchers”.