Untitled Document

Health & Safety - Susan Bright + Sian Bonnell

Date: 29 October - 30 November 2007


Health & Safety follows on from Sian Bonnell’s previous series of work, Everyday Dada and kaput! both of which address the absurd in art. The show consists of two new series of photographs, Health & Safety and Risk Assessment; two video pieces, Assessed: egg and, Assessed: bathroom, and selected images from the series kaput!

kaput! is the outcome of a commission made for The Moravska Gallery in Brno, Czechoslovakia. The Moravska Gallery houses an established collection of early modernist Czech photographs, all of which had a huge impact on Bonnell’s work, which in turn influenced the concepts behind this new body of work.

“Having found that my photographs over the years were placed firmly within certain genres, notably those of landscape and still life, I began questioning if one could continue making images as usual but move across and through all the genres. This research, which resulted from a Research Fellowship at the the Arts Institute at Bournemouth, funded for 2007, provided me with the perfect opportunity to thoroughly explore the performative aspects of my work, a prominent feature of my practice, and to delve into portraiture, a new genre for me to work with."Sian Bonnell

Health & Safety is the culmination of research undertaken this year at the Arts Institute at Bournemouth and is presented to the public for the first time. The work on show illustrates an important shift in Bonnell’s work. They tap into something much more personal and autobiographical than one might at first expect, and show her as an artist who has ‘come of age’ with vigour, intelligence, and bravado.

Susan Bright + Sian Bonnell

Susan Bright is a curator and writer. She has taught extensively and convened major conferences and seminars on many aspects of art and photography both in Britain and abroad. Previously she was Assistant Curator of Photographs at the National Portrait Gallery, Curator at the Association of Photographers and Acting Director for the MA Photography (Historic and Contemporary) at Sotheby’s Institute, London.

She is an interviewer for the Oral History of British Photography project at the National Sound Archive and a member of the AHRC funded research team investigating ‘New British Photography’ at the University of the Arts, London.

She has curated a wide variety of photography exhibitions and writes for a number of journals and magazines. She is a regular contributor to Source, Tema Celeste, and Contemporary. She has written texts on Guy Bourdin and Rineke Dijkstra for 100 Greatest Photographs (Folio, 2006) and entries for photographers for The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2004)

Art Photography Now (2005) was published by Thames and Hudson and she is currently working on another photographic self-portraiture also to be published by Thames and Hudson in 2009.

Sian Bonnell is a UK based artist living in Dorset. Her highly individual work fuses the boundaries between still life, landscape and sculpture. In so doing, she creates playful yet provocative depictions which heighten our perception and pleasure of both our domestic and natural environments.

She combines her art practice with running TRACE, an artist led curation and publishing project and lecturing regularly on photography in universities and institutions throughout the UK. She was a Research Fellow for the University of Sunderland holding the 2005 ACE/IPRN Commission at the Moravska Gallery in Brno, Czech Republic, and has just completed a research fellowship at the Arts Institute at Bournemouth.

Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally and is in many public and private collections, notably the V&A, London, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, The Ransom Center, Texas, and the Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris.

Recent publications include from an elsewhere unkown (Ffotogallery, Cardiff 2004) with essays by Mel Gooding and Mark Haworth-Booth, Dr Clock’s Handbook (Redstone Press, London 2006), Everyday Dada (Dewi Lewis, UK 2006, USA 2007) and most recently Food (Alphabet City & MIT Press, USA & Canada 2007).

Health & Safety exhibition (work) results from a Research Fellowship at the Arts Institute at Bournemouth funded for 2007.


The Arts Institute Research & Scholarship

Sian Bonnell


(Download PDF for full essay / text)