Sian Bonnell

Sian Bonnell works with found objects and household articles; placing them out of context within the rural and coastal environment where she lives, as well as constructing imagined landscapes in the studio. These interventions are then photographed as documents not just of the object but of an event.

Rather than seeking out distant high or lonely places which carry a sense of the exotic, spiritual or sublime, Bonnell is happy to work with familiar everyday objects in a mundane rural landscape. This undercutting of the rhetoric of romanticism is employed to comment on and create other fictions; landscapes of the imagination.

Her background is in sculpture and theatre design, having worked in fringe theatre on leaving art school before studying for an MA in Fine Art. The work is primarily dealing with space. Influences have been from the way space is utilised, a few are listed below:
Brancusi’s Endless Column, Piero de la Francesco, Fra Angelico, Matisse‘s The Red Studio, Giaccometti‘s The Palace At 4am, Vermeer, Beuys, the strict stage designs written into Samuel Beckett‘s plays, Durham Cathedral, Chardin, Eva Hesse, Agnes Martin, the costumes of Martha Graham, San Marco in Florence, Malevich, Theatre of the Absurd, Richard Serra, dutch still life painting, Mondrian, Eggleston, Minor-White, stage designs of Jocelyn Herbert.

A selection of her photographs are held in the collection at the Victoria & Albert Museum. One of these, from the series ‘Putting hills in Holland’ was included in the exhibition held at the Canon Photography Gallery in 2002, ‘Seeing Things: Photographing Objects 1850-2001’. Bonnell’s photograph was used to promote the exhibition. Work is also in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston. In October 2002, recent works were shown at the Armory Photography Show, New York.

Solo exhibitions in 2003 were held at AZG, Groningen, Netherlands, at HCP, Houston, USA, and Bonnell’s first solo exhibition at Hirschl Contemporary Art. Work was also shown at psycho-geography at Hirschl Contemporary Art (with Paul Cunningham & Jem Southam).


MA Fine Art
BA Hons Fine Art Sculpture

Current Teaching

Part-time University of Plymouth Design Photography
Part-time Arts Institute at Boumemouth Photography

Indicative Publications

  • Viewfindings: Women Photographers, Landscape and Environment ed Uz Wells Proof 3 SW Arts series
  • Shifting Horizons: Women’s Photography Now eds Uz Wells, Kate Newton & Catherine Fehilly. PubI. LB. Tauns
  • Handbook of Visual Analysis – Chapter: ‘Seeing Through Belief’ – Martin Uster & Liz Wells. eds. Theo van Leeuwen & Carey Jewitt. publ. Sage, London
  • Dpict: Cover Project 2000 when the domestic meets the wild – catalogue with essay by lain Biggs 2001
  • John Kippin Cold War Pastoral – chapter ‘Paradoxes of the Pastoral’– Uz Wells. PubI. London: Black Dog 2001
  • Five Magazine – Landscape: A map for 2002 Next Level Magazine – Wonder issue. Spring 2003
  • Fotogallery: Book in preparation with substantial text by Mel Gooding

Other, e.g. Consultancy

Curation, Publishing, Mentoring: TRACE, Weymouth since 1999
Consultant for CPD Day for HE Photography & Theory Lecturers for ‘Seeing Things’ Exhibition, Canon Photography Gallery, V&A. 2002

Brief description of Fine Art Practice

Photographer living in Dorset. Work is site specific, using objects & pladng them out of context in rural and coastal landscapes. Uses both pinhole and normal cameras.

Selected Exhibitions

  • 1994-5
    • Viewfindings Newlin Art Gallery + Tour
  • 1998
    • Groundings, Watershed, Bristol (solo)
  • 2000
    • Quand L’Art Change La Bale, Val St Pere, Normandy, France (solo)
    • Secret Garden, Angel Row Gallery, Nottingham
  • 2000-1
    • Shifting Horizons, MAC Birmingham + Tour
  • 2001
    • The Confounded Object, Photofusion, London
  • 2002
    • Seeing Things: Photographing Objects 1845-2001 V&A, London
  • 2003
    • 3 Photographers, Hirschl Cobtemporary Art, London
    • Hirschl Contemporary Art, London (solo)
    • Play with your Food, Houston Center for Photography, Houston, Texas
    • New Work, Blaue Patio, AZG, Groningen, Netherlands
  • 2004
    • 4 Ladies Enjoying Themselves, The Study Gallery, Poole, Dorset
    • Fotofest Discoveries Exhibition, Houston, Texas, USA


Sian Bonnell