'Posh' Society And Poor Patients In The Picture

16 June 2010

Luk Ward

One of the images by BA (Hons) Photography student Luke Ward, based on the work of 18th century artist Johann Zoffany

Stacey Jackson's Asylum

'Bed' by Photography student Stacey Jackson

A photographer's exhibition giving a modern twist to classical 18th century paintings has sparked his interest in making a 'grand tour' of stately homes.

For his final year University of Derby Degree Show, BA (Hons) Photography course student Luke Ward created 21st century versions of the type of paintings done by Johann Zoffany (1733-1810), who painted aristocrats in their stately homes.

Luke photographed rooms in Derbyshire's Calke Abbey, near Ticknall, then recreated the style of Zoffany's paintings by afterwards putting in modern equivalents of the people shown in the artist's original 18th century paintings.

Following the exhibition of Luke's work at last week's University Degree Shows (June 3 to 13) he now hopes to create a series of such pictures by photographing other National Trust properties.

Luke, 22, originally from Sunderland, explained: "For example, one of Zoffany's paintings had a gentleman in his gallery holding a book, so I've got somebody in the same position with a laptop.

"In another painting entitled Family of Sir William Young one of the figures pictured outside is leading a horse, so my photograph shows a man on a moped.

"These paintings were about the society of their day so I've used them to say something about modern living. I hope to carry this on by doing pieces of work at different UK National Trust sites in Derbyshire."

John Parkinson, House Manager at Calke Abbey, said: "I was happy for Luke to use Calke as a backdrop for his images. The results are very striking and show the house in a new and challenging way."

Luke's work was just one of the unusual and striking photo series exhibited by students at this year's Degree Shows.

Fellow student photographer Stacey Jackson's Asylum series was designed to chill rather than raise a smile.

Stacey, 22, originally from Leeds, used eerie pictures of abandoned buildings, ruined rooms and graffiti decorated walls. Each image was accompanied by a case study on a mental asylum patient.

The photographs gave a convincingly creepy atmosphere - before it was revealed that the buildings shown were not asylums at all but other ordinary, abandoned buildings.

Stacey said: "It's about using the images to stir up an emotion in the viewer, even though the abandoned building photographed might have been quite ordinary, such as an old RAF base.

"I did a lot of research using old psychological text books to get asylum patient case studies, to match them with the images. One was of a woman who'd ripped up her bed linen and I had a picture of an old, rusty bed which fitted with that perfectly."

Lara Clarke-Wardle, 23, from Nottingham, also took a dark, gothic turn for her work. Her photos were based on The Yellow Wallpaper (published 1892), a book about a woman going insane after being confined in a room to recover from 'bad nerves'.

In contrast to her subject - a woman locked in one room - Lara travelled to different parts of the UK and France to take shots illustrating her theme of 'hidden women'.

Her work and that of other University of Derby students can be seen again later in the year at an exhibition at the Acquire Arts Gallery, 155 Battersea Park Road, London, from August 20 to 26.

John Goto, Professor of Fine Art at the University of Derby, said: "The quality of the students' work on the BA (Hons) Photography degree course seems to get better each year."

For further media information please contact Press and PR Officer Sean Kirby on 01332 591891 or 07876 476103, or email s.kirby@derby.ac.uk.

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