Research at Leeds Beckett
About Lizzie Coombes
Lizzie has created exhibitions, books, films and projections that have been shown in numerous contexts including ‘Submerged’ (2012), an underwater photography exhibition in Bramley Baths, Leeds that attracted over 500 visitors in one weekend and gained extensive media coverage.
Her academic practice draws on her professional experience of teaching in a mix of educational and community settings that range from schools to setting up and running workshops with ‘the Silver Snappers’ (a group of older people learning digital photography).
Current TeachingSenior Lecturer, BSc. Digital Journalism & MSc. Creative Technologies, Leeds School of Arts.
Module leader on Introduction to Visual Communication, Impact of Journalism and Create the Concept at Level 4.
Module leader on Business of Journalism 2, Level 5 and module leader on Creative Media Practice and Showcase in Level 6.
I run a Level 6 elective, Portraiture: Identity and Representation.
Part of the teaching team on the MSc. Creative Technologies.
Research InterestsA large part of Lizzie's photographic practice has been to use portraiture and the pop-up studio as a tool of social engagement in a variety of settings and locations.
An example of this is I'm Carnival Happy which she completed in 2017 and was a joint commission with Leeds Inspired and Leeds West Indian Carnival, to celebrate the carnival’s 50th birthday. She hosted 15 pop-up studios in Leeds, including a swimming pool, shopping centres and a lunch club.
The studio toured with four specially commissioned carnival headpieces which members of the public were invited to wear in their photograph. The portraits were freely accessible for participants to download and use on social media platforms.
The portraits were shared via a free newspaper distributed across the city (1000 printed and included every portrait taken), on a variety of bus shelter advertising hoardings, as an installation outside the Reginald Centre (Chapeltown) during the 50th carnival weekend (August 2017) and in an exhibition at Room 700, Leeds Central Library (October – November 2017). The images were also seen on BBC Look North and carnival websites and press.
John Tagg discusses how having ‘one’s portrait done’ in the 19th century was seen as an important expression for those from the ‘rising social classes’ in order to make their ‘ascent visible’ to not only themselves but those around them (Tagg, 1984:22).
Bate discusses how the portrait studio provided a space for clients to see themselves in a picture as they ‘wished to appear’ (2009:68).
Commercial portrait studios today continue to provide this service for those who can afford it. Lizzie is continuing to build on her research through practice of using the pop up studios in public and private spaces, which are accessed for free with the intent of creating portraits with people who aren't seen in in mainstream spaces, for example the prisoner or the woman who has had her child removed.