Nigel Grimmer

I am a mixed media artist researching the language of the photographic portrait. Historically my investigation focused on domestic photography, specifically the family album. Recently I have begun to study the self-portraits produced for use within social media, particularly dating apps and Instagram stories.

I think of my photographic work as anti-portraiture; through a variety of devices the model’s face is obscured. This methodology stems from a reaction against photographic history and traditional practice, which I see as exploitative and corrupt. There is an underlying narrative of the exploitation of the other, the model and the unsuspecting public by the privileged. Geoff Dyer highlights this in ‘The Ongoing Moment’ in which he summarizes the canonical photographers who have surreptitiously shot portraits of the blind, the “ultimate natural model”. My allegiance was always with the ‘other’, and never with the ‘heroic’ figure of the photographer. Beginning with my undergraduate studies I have looked at other ways of working. I am currently negotiating more democratic practices with my collaborators.

Given my feelings towards much photographic practice, that it is inherently exploitative, I feel it is necessary to highlight the constructed nature of the photographic illusion whenever possible. We live in an age that consumes images in problematic ways; we are the first generation that understands that most of the images we see are manipulated, the cover of a fashion magazine for example, but we still diet to look like the image we know is fallacy.

Employment history

2010 – Current Senior Lecturer in Visual Arts Practice University of Bedfordshire
2008 – Current Visiting Lecturer in Fine Art University of Hertfordshire

Responsibilities at UOB

Curriculum Leader for Contemporary Arts Practice Cluster: BA (Hons) Art & Design, Contemporary Arts Practice, and Photography
Course Leader BA (Hons) Art and Design
Senior Lecturer in Visual Arts Practice

Other references


Selected Conference Papers

June 2018

  • Performative Portraits: Photography as a Social Tool in Education
    London Conference in Critical Thought 2018, University of Westminster

Oct 2017

  • Utilizing Performative Teaching within the Induction Unit as a Social Tool Capable of Aiding Participation and Retention
    Provocative Pedagogies: Performative Teaching and Learning in the Arts, University of Lincoln


Selected Solo Exhibitions


  • Minor Monuments, Bloc Projects, Sheffield, UK


  • Time’s Relentless Melt, Charlie Dutton Gallery, London, UK


  • Disruptive Members, Departure Lounge, Luton, UK
  • Senti-monu-mental, Artlink, Hull, UK


  • Plastic Life Part Five, Harley Gallery, Welbeck, UK
  • Roadkill Family Album, South Bank Arts Centre, Bedford


  • Time and Fire Destroy All Things, Whitewall, Milton Keynes, UK
  • Plastic Life Part Four, 20-21 Visual Arts Centre, Scunthorpe, UK
  • Plastic Life Part Three, Rugby Art Gallery and Museum, UK


  • Plastic Life Part Two, Focal Point, Southend-on-Sea, UK
  • Plastic Life Part One, Margaret Harvey Gallery, St. Albans, UK


  • Places I Call Home, Standpoint Gallery, London, UK


  • Places I Call Home, New Museum of Contemporary Art, Norwich, UK
  • Based on a True Story, First Out, London, UK


  • Based on a True Story, Norwich Arts Centre, UK
  • Bender! Folly Gallery, Lancaster, UK


Selected Group Exhibitions


  • Skin Deep, James Freeman Gallery, London, UK


  • Queer Art(ists) Now, Void Gallery, London, UK


  • Homosurrealism Hollywood, Touchon Gallery, USA
  • Queer Art(ists) Now, Void Gallery, London, UK
  • Making Strange, Praxis Gallery, Minneapolis, USA
  • Round Hole, Square Peg, LA Art Show, Los Angeles, USA


  • Peckham International Art Fair, Bussey Building, London, UK
  • Queer Art(ist)s Now, Archive Gallery, London, UK


  • Intruder Alert! James Freeman Gallery, London, UK
  • Mein Schwules Auge, The Ballery, Berlin, Germany


  • Untitled, Darren Baker Gallery, London, UK
  • Uncertain States, Four Corners, London, UK


  • The Winter Garden, James Freeman Gallery, London, UK
  • The Affordable Art Fair, The Tunnel, New York, USA
  • Oriel Davies Open 2014, Oriel Davies Gallery, Wales, UK


  • M Path, Texas State University, San Marcos, USA
  • Brighton Photo Fringe, Phoenix Gallery, Brighton, UK


  • Multiplied Art Fair, Christies, London, UK
  • Summer Show, Foto8 Gallery, London
  • Amulets, Nazars & Evil Eyes, Queens College Art Centre, New York, USA
  • 30 Days 30 Artists, studio 1.1, London, UK


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