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Liz Milner

Associate Member

After years (since I was about 8) of being drawn inescapably to ‘place’ and landscape as subjects of visual, historical and ecological fascination, I’m continually trying to discover what the attraction is, so, through both arbitrary and more directed research, taking thousands of photographs, and having an endless dialogue with myself and others, I have encountered and learned from (some recent examples) geology, wearable computing, the Bloomsbury Group, woodland management, mythology, and local history, all of which not only influence my work but extend the boundaries of my enquiries even further.

Perhaps because landscape has held my attention for so long – being in it, ‘reading’ it and photographing it – I’ve come to define it in a broader sense than the conventional meaning, so 15 years ago, with children filling my days, ‘landscape’ became my home and family life since “home is where the heart is”, so landscapes became for me what I could see on my own horizons on a daily basis. Excursions into this domain brought the development of a strong sense of narrative, and a new attention to scale, rhythm, colour and line formal concerns that have continued to influence and are having an increasing impact on my working approach.

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As the children became independent, this domestic terrain has re-extended to include more recognisable landscape subjects, but the desire to observe and reflect recurring themes and cycles within them, still takes me to familiar surroundings with which I feel I have an intimate relationship, so a recent project has included a study of a local woodland, culminating in an exhibition “The Woods A Year and a Day”, and a current project, visually exploring the diverse forms that water can adopt, is also located in, and intimated by my immediate neighbourhood, while I continue to photographically explore my domestic environment in ‘close-up vistas’! But even within the more conventional landscape territory, it’s the awareness of my own presence and the responses to where I am that determines the outcomes as much as the content of the ‘view’ I’ve chosen to represent.

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Through producing these ‘intimate landscapes’ I have begun to recognise that there are a number of equations which provide the foundation for this personal attraction to the construction and identity of place. One sequence of these equations, which are in a state of constant reconciliation, is the influence of the natural world on determining choices of human settlement, and the evidence that remains of the ensuing impact they have on that environment. And then there’s the inspiring, oppositional process of erosion or reclamation by the vegetable world.

The shifting balance between the terms of these equations creates visible sites of disruption in the everyday world and is a dynamic area to forage in, and it’s the exploration of this space, combined with where I locate myself within that search for equilibrium, that stimulates and feeds my output – photographs, video, writing and installations.

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In selecting and presenting the images I’ve taken from these varied places, formal qualities, a contextual framework and a narrative theme will all be significant factors, but it’s a sequence of moments of experience in a specific place – intense fragments of time within those constantly fluctuating equations – that ultimately I hope to convey through my work.

Work with Bristol Women’s Photography Group (BWPG)

In celebration of International Women’s Day in March 1992, six women from the BWPG exhibited work on billboards in Bristol; the sites were donated for 2 weeks by Mills and Allen. This site is in Bedminster, south Bristol, the work is called Consequences, and is comprised 140 sheets of A3 black and white photocopies (courtesy of the Amolfini gallery, Bristol) enlarged I ,000% from original black and white photographic prints.

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As part of Signals Women’s photography festival in 1994, the BWPG produced a series of posters to go inside Bristol’s buses and at Temple Meads railway station, venturing into the then relatively new field of digital technology, producing work on the theme of women and culture. This piece is called Falling Bodies and draws on scientific principals, common idioms and on the ideas outlined below.

For three to four thousand years, up until about 2,500BC, there existed across Europe a largely peaceful culture with highly developed agriculture, decorative use of metal ores, and a balanced social order of women and men whose religion was centred on a goddess. She was a symbol of unity of all life in nature and her poser was in the earth and in water. She had many aspects, one of which, as life giver and bringer of happiness, wealth and nourishment, was represented in sculptures, pots and in mythology by water birds, or simply by their feathers.

At around 2,500 BC there arrived in Central Eastern Europe, some very different people, a male dominated society of warriors who domesticated the horse and herded cattle from pasture to pasture. They also had a knowiedge of firing furnaces to smelt copper and later bronze, but brought with them into the settled agricultural community not only weapon-making, but also new gods – male gods of the skies and who wielded thunderbolts. Two and half thousand years later, after this culture had developed through the Celts and during the height of the Roman empire, came Christianity, also using the image of a sky god.

Acknowledgements to Maria Gimbutas, Professor of Archaeology UCLA, who died in the year of this project.

Education

City & Guilds Professional Photography Certificate, years of professional experience and a Post graduate Certificate Fine Art University of Plymouth.
Currently completing MA at University of Plymouth

Current Teaching

  • 2001-02 December
    • Visting Lecturer at School of Cultural Studies, Faculty of Humanities, UWE, teaching photography to 1st, 2nd and 3rd years on 3 modules: “Introduction to Media Production”, “Photo Media – From the Analogue to the Digital Image”; & “Continuing Media Production”
  • 2003- From February
    • Visting Lecturer at Faculty of Art, Media and Design at UWE- Graphic Design and Time Based Media ‘Representation’ 1st year module

Current Research

Completing MA – Fine Art – Photography

Publications

  • 2002
    • Salisbury Festival, In Praise of Trees Exhibition Catalogue
  • 2001
    • Book of the Year of the Artist in the South West
  • 2000
    • ISEA (International Symposium of Electronic Arts) Catalogue for year conference
  • 1997
    • Memory in Perspective one of the ‘Nexus’ series of books, published by Scarlet Press and IRIS womens’ photography project at Staffordshire University

Other, e.g., Consultancy

  • 1997 – ongoing
    • SW Arts advisor
  • 1991-98
    • Photography advisor for Bristol’s Watershed Co-ordinator of ‘Floatclub’ at Watershed (www.fioatclub.co.uk) – a forum for creative debate, open to all ‘creative producers’, but originated by and for people working in the ‘new-media’ industry as skills development and creative networking space.

Freelance photography for: Bristol City Council, South Glos Council & other Local Authorities; voluntary sector/community projects and initiatives; National Trust; Avon Wildlife; Forest of Avon; British Trust for Conservation Volunteers; artists, makers and arts groups etc.

Selected Exhibitions

  • 2002
    • June Salisbury Festival contributor to In Praise of Trees – Greenworld Salisbury
    • January – May ‘Wired Wood’ – a version of The Woods – A Year and a Day exhibition (see below) incorporating irfteractive soundscapes devised in collaboration with sound artist Armin Elsessaer and HP Invent labs in Bristol
    • Forest – contributor to Southern Arts Touring Show, Southern England
  • 2001
    • October The Woods – A Year and a Day a Year of the Artist residency, solo exhibition, installation and event, Ashton Court Visitor Centre, Bristol and North Somerset woodland
  • 2000
    • 6 Small Screens with Ship of Fools artists Group, other artists and HP Invent, Watershed, Bristol
    • Losing the Plot with Ship of Fools artists Group as part of Cheltenham Festival of Literature, Pump Rooms, Cheltenham
  • 1998
    • Dreamhouses with Ship of Fools artists Group, F-Stop Gallery, Bath
  • 1994
    • Drawing with Light working in the Dark – group show part of Signals Womens photography Festival, King Street Gallery, Bristol
    • Bus Poster project, with Bristol Womens Photography Group Bristol
  • 1992
    • Billboard project with Bristol Womens Photography Group Bristol
  • 1987
    • Intuitive Visions group show Watershed, Bristol

 

Liz Milner

e-mail: Elizabeth.Milner@uwe.ac.uk (work) or lizmilner@beeb.net (home)

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