Tell us a little bit about you; who you are and what you do?
Hello! My name is Miriam. I am an Italian visual artist based in Edinburgh, UK. I recently graduated from Napier University with a BA (Hons) in photography. The majority of my work has involved self-portraiture and alternative photographic processes. I am fascinated by the relation between images and words. I started with street photography, then moved to wildlife and finally settled on fine art I think. I enjoy shooting with all kinds of mediums.I tend to begin by working with an original image, I either shoot or steal from digital archives and then experiment with alternative printing processes, both in the darkroom and with a scanner or a laptop. I like to see what happens if I let go of some of the rules and just try, making mistakes hoping to stumble into something new. I am at peace in libraries, in the smell of dusty books. My practice tends to be a combination of research and those experiments. I play with chemicals and light and then hope what I planned happens. It often does not... You can find me working in storage rooms in the dark with a gas mask on.
What sparked an interest in photography? Do you remember a pivotal moment ?
I think my early interest in photography is connected to my father, who has always had a strong passion for the medium. He always had a big wardrobe filled with all possible kinds of cameras and lenses and I do not have many memories of my childhood without him having a lens pointed at my face.
Funny enough, I do have an eureka moment when I realise that I wanted to become a photographer, a wildlife photographer. Things change. I think I was around 17 years old, not that young. I was squatting on the border of a cliff in the Faroe Islands, trying to photograph a couple of gannets flying around my head when the idea first crossed my mind. That same night I met a couple of Edinburgh-based photographers, who suggested studying photography in Scotland, so here I am.
Massive congratulations on graduating ! What does a day in the life of Miriam look like at the moment with no university deadlines to be working towards?
Thank you! It almost feels unreal, doesn’t it? There is nothing like graduating during a global pandemic to lift the spirit. At the same time, it feels good to have more time to focus on ourselves. I have been planning future projects and trying to invent plans for the future. For now, I moved into a new flat and I converted the tiny storage room into another improvised darkroom. I spend my days fighting spiders drowning in my trays. What else would you want?
I have been taking time to reassess, to understand what I want for the future, and for myself. I finally found a perfect reading tree in the park in front of my house, so that is exciting news.
I have been taking time to reassess, to understand what I want for the future, and for myself.
You have such a beautiful and unique style with your experimental and camera-less photography! How did you get into this way of creating? Can you tell us a little bit about your photography journey and how you got to your current style?
Thank you! I developed this style recently, around two years ago. I started during my exchange abroad at Deakin University in Melbourne. There, I managed to enrol myself at the last minute in a class on alternative photography taught by the visual artists Danica Chappell and Anna Shimshak. It really changed my perception of the medium. It opened my eyes. There I began experimenting with photograms, cyanotypes and other processes and I discovered a new interest in the materiality of photography. I love the element of chance, the unexpected.
There I began experimenting with photograms, cyanotypes and other processes and I discovered a new interest in the materiality of photography. I love the element of chance, the unexpected.
For the readers who don’t know, you and I (Laura) studied together at university and our course was very female heavy and we were lucky to have inspiring female lecturers too, but the industry is definitely male dominated. As a female emerging into the photography industry, how do you feel about the lack of female photographers? Do you find it disheartening/intimidating?
I am trying to stay positive about it, but yes, I can see how gendered the industry is and I do feel it in everyday life. I think of myself as a privileged individual, but I find it quite intimidating. Still, I believe the industry is changing. There are new projects like this one and other magazines and exhibitions opening up that give me hope.
How are you finding the transition from being a student to working in the industry so far? Have you had to tackle any challenges or issues regarding gender inequality?
Considering the circumstances we are in globally, I feel like the transition has been way subtler than I pictured. We have been away from the physical spaces of university for a while now, so on a day-to-day level not much is that different. I have been trying to understand my place in the industry, and besides stumbling into art scams once in a while I think I have been lucky.
Historically, the photography industry very much consists of males; do you think that there is an evident change happening in terms of equality? And do you think that there is anything else that those in the industry can do to encourage more females to pursue their passion for photography as a career?
I do feel like there is a slow movement towards a more accepting industry in terms of equality. I hope it is here to stay and not just part of a trend. Still, the industry itself was created by cis white men. It would be absurd to ignore the implications. There are not enough women and gender nonconforming people in it. There is still a long way to go to change this.
I do feel like there is a slow movement towards a more accepting industry in terms of equality. I hope it is here to stay and not just part of a trend.
Social media can be a great place for tackling gender inequality and accepting the underrepresented. Do you think that social media is positively helping with the change towards a more diverse industry?
Yes, I think so. Social media is a great tool because of its democratic nature. Still, I do have concerns regarding it, but overall I hope it is contributing to a more inclusive industry. Things are changing, although sometimes I am not that sure whose interests we are going along with. I feel like platforms like Instagram or Tiktok are great because they allow anyone in possession of a phone to be able to have an audience. Yet, I feel like we are getting used to living out of these fragments of attention. Listening to overused phrases that no-one is really sure who said in the first place. Still, great platforms if we turn an eye to some of the issues built within them.
I feel like platforms like Instagram or Tiktok are great because they allow anyone in possession of a phone to be able to have an audience. Yet, I feel like we are getting used to living out of these fragments of attention.
Are you working on any projects at the moment? Is there anything exciting in the pipelines ? 👀
Since the end of university, I have been taking some time off to reassess, but I do have a couple of ideas bubbling up in my head and a couple of physical exhibitions coming up. I was at the Hidden Doors festival in Granton till the 19th to exhibit my project ‘Indigo Dust’ along with other visual arts graduates. That was fun. Right now I am organising a couple of other shows both in Italy and Scotland. So I will see about that.
Do you have any female role models who inspired you to pursue as a creative?
Yes, there have been a couple of female artists who led me to where I am trying to go. They helped me see another way of living. They pushed me to create my own reality. One of them is Anna Shimshak, to whom I am incredibly grateful. I do not think my current art practice would exist without her.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
This is a hard one. I hope to be surrounded by other creative people and to have found my place in the industry. I hope I will have completed a master's degree, and maybe even carved myself a little corner of the world where I can have time to create in peace. I hope the world will be in a better place and that I can live a life more connected to nature while continuing to research and create more stories. It would be nice to have finished another book.
Lastly, what advice do you have for any female photographers out there who want to pursue a creative career but feel intimidated by the male dominated industry ?
Not to sound too cheesy, but just try. There is no need for women to occupy less space. We need the industry to be made from all possible perspectives. We need art to be created by as many of us as possible, so that we can understand what is going on and ask the right questions.
There is no need to let fear and comparison bring us down. If there is no place for you, then make it. If we let the past dictate the future, we won’t go far. The doors are opening and if we all try together maybe we can crack them open.
If there is no place for you, then make it.