Studio 5: Subject, Object & Metaphor in Contemporary Photographic Practice

Studio brief

How and why can you produce a translation of reality (or an idea) into a photograph and what is the thinking behind it?

This photography studio raises questions about the representational and non-representational in photographic media, inviting students to explore issues, ideas, senses, stories, rumours, myths, facts, fictions, dreams or other concerns that matter to them and relate to the theme, through approaches that test the possibilities and limits of photographic media today: from analogue traditions through digital, post digital to any combination of cross media practices or actions. 

The studio will support students’ experimentation and guide them through contextual exploration of these questions. It will help to frame the production of their projects and research through an intense and stimulating programme aimed to provide conceptual grounding together with practical skills. This will lead to an understanding of how to position their practice within visual arts and commercial photography frameworks and how to produce works to the highest professional and museum standard. We will work from concept development to completion of the project’s outputs (including production of artworks, exhibitions, publications, events and digital platforms) while offering an insight into establishing a professional practice after graduation.
The Studio’s group art project for this year’s Photomonth Festival in November is Face Up: an exhibition of portraits of celebrities of the past and the present curated by Sue Andrews, which will include photographs from The East End Archive at The Cass and new works by students and staff. The exhibition offers an opportunity to explore the studio theme as a group and to extend your professional practice development skills. The show will be produced as a fundraising exhibition for the Terrence Higgins Trust charity, with support from a marketing agency and will open to the general public for a month on November 5th in the Bank Gallery at The Cass. 

Over the two studio days each week, the programme will use a range of methodologies that will include:

  • Practice, research, lectures and seminars (research and contextualisation)
  • Professional practice talks
  • Exhibition production workshops (including a studio group art project)
  • A symposium (Fathom the Four Corners Gallery Residency Artists Day)
  • Online marketing and networking sessions
  • Exhibition visits (including Four Corners Gallery in Bethnal Green, the Print Room at the V&A Museum, Burden of Proof: The Construction of Visual Evidence exhibition at the Photographers’ Gallery, Dusseldorf Photography: Bernd & Hill Becher and Beyond exhibition at Ben Brown Fine Arts Gallery) where students will meet curators and gallerists and discuss the work being shown
  • Documentary viewing sessions (key documentaries related to the studio theme)
  • Show and tell sessions (how to read a photograph, how to talk about a photograph, how to write about a photograph)
  • Read and discuss sessions (group discussions of key texts from our critical reading list)
  • Individual tutorials with photography section lecturers
  • Talks by visiting artists and industry professionals and group crits

The studio is co-ordinated by Mick Williamson and Ania Dabrowska with additional sessions by Sue Andrews and Spencer Rowell together with visiting speakers from the arts and photography industries.  

Suggested reading list

All books available through the library:

  • Bates, David (2009) Photography; The Key Concepts

  • Cotton, Charlotte (2004) The Photograph as Contemporary Art (Thames & Hudson 2004)
  • Bright, Susan (2005) Art Photography Now (Thames & Hudson 2005)
  • Wells, Liz (2000) (ed) Photography: A Critical Introduction (3rd Edition) (Routledge, London 2004)
  • Jeffery, Ian (2008) How to Read a Photograph

Also, start looking at some of the following artists / photographers if you’re not familiar with their work:

Candida Höfer, Axel Hütte, Joseph Cornell, Wolfgang Tillmans, Pierre Huyghe, Chris Marker, Vivien Sassen, Sally Mann, Thomas Joshua Cooper, Brian Griffin, Stephen McLaren, Jenny Mathews, Adam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarin, Richard Wentworth, Tom Hunter, Simon Norfolk, Alex Soth, Jim Goldberg, Akram Zaatari, Sophie Calle, Nan Goldin, Cindy Sherman, Jeff Wall, Philip-Lorca di Corcia, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Francis Alÿs, Jo Spence, Hamish Fulton.

People standing on the rocks by the water at the beach



Photography BA (Hons)

Tutor Ania Dabrowska
Mick Williamson
Sue Andrews
Spencer Rowell
Where Central House 2nd Floor Studios
When Monday and Thursday

Matthew Cotsell
Andrew Dickerson
Ting-An Ku

Louis Burrows
Nicola Charalambous
Anna Henryson
Steven King
Chantelle Lake
Alannah Lavender
Edyta Michalska
Alexandra Moye Zawadzki
Michaela Mysakova
Iva Puchlova
Zoe Rushton
Theresa Soave
Katarina Sobolciakova
Salli Tera

Cass Studios archive by year