Lisa Barnard


Willing to speak to media


Research activity per year

Personal profile

Research interests

Lisa Barnard’s photographic practice is placed in the genre of documentary.  Her work discusses real events, embracing complex and innovative visual strategies that utilise both traditional documentary techniques with more contemporary and conceptually rigorous forms of representation. Barnard connects her interest in aesthetics, current photographic debates around materiality and the existing political climate. Of particular interest to her is Global Capitalism, the relationship between the military industrial complex, screen based new technologies and the psychological implication of conflict.


“Barnard describes herself as a photographic artist, but her work seems unapologetically political. She pays homage to, and undercuts, the tropes of documentary realism”. Sean O Hagan Guardian Review of Chateau Despair, 2013.



Research interests

Barnard receives regular funding, exhibits frequently both nationally and internationally, and has portfolios of her work featured in contemporary photographic publications. She is an Associate Professor in Photography and runs the MA in Documentary Photography on and teaches on the BA Documentary Photography at The University of South Wales. PhD students include Joâo Leal, Edgar Martins, Clementine Schneidermann and Ana Catarina Pinho. Chateau Despair 2013 and Hyenas of the Battlefield, Machines in the Garden 2015, were both published by GOST. In 2019 Barnard published her 3rd monograph with MACK, The Canary and the Hammer.

In 2015 Barnard was awarded a new Grant of $15,000 from Getty Images to complete a new body of Work published by MACK Title: The Canary and the Hammer

Research interests

I have started two new a bodies of work that are running concurrently. The first is a project that is a direct response to the financial crisis of 2008 and is a desire to connect particular interests, that of global capitalism, technology and conflict and increasingly the role that women have within this arena. In its entirety it will investigate how Gold, with its versatile and unique properties, has become an indispensible component within engineering and electronic industries and how its application as a key nanomaterial is beginning to offer new solutions to a range of global health and environmental challenges. Each topic of investigation or series will focus on a particular aspect of the extraction, use and dissemination of Gold with a focus on the UK and North and South America and the desire of these countries to ‘claim’ territory through exploration and the inevitable conflict that ensued. A series considered thus far is the creation of photographic ‘Orotones’ (glass positives with gold leaf on the reverse) of women miners in Peru and the growing number of female workers who help extract Gold, not only from the ground but from the myriad of devices such as mobile phones and remotes that are discarded by members of society everyday. Many people over the course of history have been drawn to Gold, from the early Spanish pioneers in South America, the colonisation of North America instigated by James 1st at a time of financial crisis that led to the well known marriage of John Rolf and Pocahontas in 1617 and of course the ‘Gold Rush’ both in its historical and contemporary forms. For there is in us all a desire to own gold, because of its beauty, its glittering return, its ability to shine in the darkest of days. But our relationship with it in the current global market place is now an act of faith. This act of faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Photography and hidden data can substantiate the relationship between hegemony and the unique metal. We are surrounded by Gold everyday, concealed in the technology we use – Gold wires the internet, it protects the unseen and is pivotal to the success of many technologies we take for granted, such as the iphone. The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) developed by NASA is due to be launched in 2018 and will search for the first galaxies that formed in the early universe. The telescope’s 18 hexagonal mirror segments have been covered with a microscopically-thin gold coating, making use of the metal’s properties as an efficient reflector of infrared light. The telescope is the most recent visual and technological development and will supersede the Far Ultraviolet Camera/Spectrograph (UVC), photographed by myself at NASA earlier this year (also coated in Gold), one of the experiments deployed on the lunar surface by the Apollo 16 astronauts in 1972. This project will provide an innovative and complex view of a familiar topic and further our knowledge on the relationship we have with conflict and technology. This project is funded by an award that I received from Getty Images of $15,000. The Prestige Grant is a new award to support a photographer in the completion of a new body of work. The second project and area of research for me is a collection housed at Yale University of the Osama Bin Laden Tapes. This project will be a joint project with Flagg Miller, the professor of religious studies at UC Davis. We will be developing a photography and text project book/exhibition/digital platform focusing on a unique collection of over 1,500 audio recordings, accompanying cassette jackets, and video artifacts that were deposited in Osama bin Laden’s former residence in Kandahar Afghanistan and acquired by CNN in 2002. The collection is currently housed at Yale University. To date, Flagg has been the only researcher conducting work on the archive; he has a book about the tapes published by Oxford UP called The Audacious Ascetic. Absent from his book is any investigation of the visual dimensions of the tape collection, most important among them roughly sixty cassette jackets, as well as approximately 60 video tapes that were acquired by CNN from Kandahar at the same time and that are currently housed at Williams College. None of this material has been studied by anyone to date. Flagg and I have only begun discussing what a collaborative monograph would involve. Given his and my combined expertise, we are envisioning both a digital and analogue project that would involve images, audio, and video as well as an exhibition that would travel and be hosted by museums and other institutions. Central to the project would be a consideration of the ways images work in relation to audio material in this collection – both for its original producers and audiences, with attention to Islam and the dynamics of media culture in the larger Arabic-speaking world, as well as for global audiences in the wake of 9/11 and through today. The work will detail how Islamic cultural, legal, theological and linguistic vocabularies have shaped militants’ understandings of Al-Qaeda, and, more controversially, challenges the notion that the group’s original adversary was America and the ‘far enemy.’

Education/Academic qualification

MA Photography and Critical Thinking, Distinction

Award Date: 15 Jun 2012

BA Photography, 1st Class Hons, University of Brighton

Award Date: 7 Jul 2005

External positions

Member of the APHE

Fellow of the Rpyal Photographic Spciety (FRPS), Royal Photographic Society

PHMuseum online tutor

ISSP Master Class Tutor


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