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Durham University

Research & business

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Dr Pippa Oldfield

Honorary Research Fellow in the School of Modern Languages and Cultures

Contact Dr Pippa Oldfield (email at pippa.oldfield@durham.ac.uk)

Profile

Pippa Oldfield is a photography curator and researcher with interests in the relationship between photography and war; women’s histories and experiences; and photography and visual culture in Latin America. She is Doctoral Fellow in the School of Modern Languages and Cultures and Head of Programme at Impressions Gallery, a public-funded centre for contemporary photography in Bradford. 

Her PhD research, funded by a Durham Doctoral Fellowship, explores women’s engagement with war and photography in the American hemisphere. Her thesis questions the assumption that the genre of war photography is a masculine domain surveyed by the photojournalist at the frontline, and instead considers an expanded territory that might more adequately represent women's experiences. The shift to engagement enables attention to women’s photographic activity in its widest form, encompassing not just taking, but viewing, collecting, mobilising, and trafficking of ‘war photographs’. Such an approach necessarily expands the photographic moment beyond that of production alone, to encompass the wider resonances of reproduction, dissemination, reception and consumption. It is through this framework that women’s agency and contributions forcefully emerge, showing women to be critical observers and political actors in the sphere of war and its photographic manifestations. 

These issues are explored via case studies in the United States and Latin America, including commercial studio portraiture and the compilation of albums during the Mexican Revolution; readers of Lee Miller’s photo-essays published in fashion magazine US Vogue in World War II; Kodak’s wartime advertising to women in the United States; the mobilisation of family snapshots as part of women’s protests in Argentina’s Dirty War; and female artists’ responses to recent internal conflict in Colombia. 

Prior to commencing her PhD, Pippa was awarded an MA in the Photographic Image (Durham University) and a BA in Fine Art (Falmouth School of Art). Her academic research has been supported by Durham University, Arts and Humanities Research Council and Peter E. Palmquist Memorial Fund for Historical Photographic Research. 

Public Engagement

Pippa’s practice as a curator develops and shares her research in the public domain through nationally-touring exhibitions that are accompanied by public engagement programmes and publications. 

 Pippa has spoken about her curatorial work at public venues including The Photographers’ Gallery (London) and Open Eye Gallery (Liverpool), and via broadcast media including Women’s Hour BBC Radio 4, Radio 5 Live, and BBC Breakfast News. Her curatorial practice has been supported by Arts Council England, Visiting Arts, and London Arts Board. 

She co-convened (with Tom Allbeson) the international conference ‘The Business of War Photography: Producing and Consuming Images of Conflict, in association with CVAC, DLI Museum and Durham Art Gallery, Impressions Gallery, and Royal Historical Society. 

Research Groups

Selected curated exhibitions

Melanie Friend: The Home Front

Exhibited at Impressions Gallery (2013); Durham Light Infantry Museum and Art Gallery (2014); UH Galleries, University of Hertfordshire (forthcoming, 2014) 

Red Saunders: Hidden

Co-curated with Nicola Stephenson. Exhibited at Impressions Gallery (2011); People’s History Museum, Manchester (2013); Discovery Centre, Winchester (2013-14) 

Bringing the War Home: Photographic Responses to Conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan

Exhibited at Impressions Gallery, Bradford, (2010); Winchester Art Gallery (2013) 

Once More, With Feeling: Recent Photography From Colombia

Co-curated with Camilla Brown. Exhibited at Impressions Gallery, Bradford (2007); The Photographers’ Gallery, London (2008); University of Essex Gallery (2008); UH Galleries, University of Hertfordshire (2008); Rugby Art Gallery and Museum (2009) 

Stefan Ruiz: The Factory of Dreams: Inside Mexico’s Soap Operas

Exhibited at Impressions Gallery, York (2005); Open Eye Gallery, Liverpool (2006); Globe City, Newcastle (2006) 

Lee Miller: A Life Less Ordinary

Exhibited at The Print Room, The Photographers’ Gallery, London (2001)

Teaching

Pippa has delivered lectures, tutorials, workshops and seminars for photography practitioners at Centro de la Imagen (Mexico City), Centro de las Artes de San Agustín (Oaxaca, Mexico), Winchester School of Art, Newcastle University, University of Hertfordshire, Swansea Metropolitan University, Sunderland University, and National Media Museum (Bradford). She has conducted portfolio review sessions for photographers at Blank Paper Escuela (Madrid) and Hydra (Mexico City) and has been an invited portfolio reviewer at international festivals including Photomonth (London), Photoespaña (Madrid), and Fotofest (Houston, Texas). 

Selected Publications

Book review

Chapter in book

Conference Paper

  • Oldfield, Pippa (2014), '"A Suitable Occupation For a Woman": Sara Castrejón’s Portrait Studio in the Mexican Revolution' presented at The Business of War Photography: Producing and Consuming Images of Conflict, 31 July – 1 August 2014 at DLI Museum & Durham Art Gallery and Durham University.
  • Oldfield, Pippa (2013), 'Visit Your Man in the Service with Snapshots: Eastman Kodak Advertising and Women’s Wartime Amateur Photography in the US, 1941 – 1945' presented at Workers and Consumers: The Photographic Industry 1860-1950, 24 – 25 June 2013 at the Photographic History Research Centre, De Montfort University, Leicester, Workers and Consumers: The Photographic Industry 1860-1950, 24 – 25 June 2013. Photographic History Research Centre, De Montfort University, Leicester, Photographic History Research Centre, De Montfort University, Leicester.
  • Oldfield, Pippa (2010), 'Adelita’s Unfinished Revolution: The Career of a Casasola Photographic Image of a Soldadera' presented at the Annual Conference of British Historians of Women in the Americas, 19 June 2010 at the Centre for American, Transatlantic and Caribbean History, Brunel University, London, Annual Conference of British Historians of Women in the Americas, 19 June 2010. Centre for American, Transatlantic and Caribbean History, Brunel University, London, Centre for American, Transatlantic and Caribbean History, Brunel University, London.

Edited book

Journal Article

Presentation

  • Oldfield, Pippa (2014), 'Hot, Cold and Dirty Wars’, ‘The Cold War Camera’, Toronto Photography Seminar and Durham Centre for Advanced Photographic Studies, Guatemala City 21-23 February 2014, Toronto Photography Seminar and Durham Centre for Advanced Photographic Studies. Guatemala City

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