Professor Richard Sawdon Smith

Professor Richard Sawdon Smith

Professor of Fine Art and Programme Director for Fine Art and Photography

Professor Richard Sawdon Smith is an internationally exhibiting and award-winning photographer. He is a former winner of the John Kobal/National Portrait Gallery Photographic Portrait Award, a Board Member of The bookRoom Press & Archive, on the Editorial Panel of the Journal of Photography & Culture, a member of the Visual AIDS Archive, and Co-editor of Langford’s Basic Photography and The Book is A Live!. His photographs and writing are widely published.

Main research fields and specialisms

Photographic self-portraiture; artists representations of their own diseased or damaged body exploring issues of ill health, identity and subjectivity, sexuality and classification; the AIDS body; photography in relation to institutions practices, photographic archives and tattooing; and the artist/photographic book.

Research grants and awards

  • 2017: Gilead Sciences £5000 sponsorship for InSideShow VR research project
  • 2013: RCIF award Print Lab grant £60,000
  • 2009: SRIF award BookRoom Press & Archive £152,000
  • 2005: OneVision European Photographic Award UK Winner €1,000
  • 1997: John Kobal Photographic Portrait Award £2,500

Authored Essays and Edited books             

  • 2020: R Sawdon Smith ‘The Unknowing…X’ photo essay in Critical Studies of Men’s Fashion, special issue (London, Intellect)
  • 2019: R Sawdon smith ‘The Unknowing…X’ photo essay in Uncertain States issue X (32) (Norwich, UCS)
  • 2019: R Sawdon Smith ‘A Manifesto: We Are’ Uncertain States issue 30 (Norwich, UCS)
  • 2016: R Sawdon Smith and A Fox (ed) Langford’s Basic Photography 10th Edition (Oxford, Focal Press)
  • 2016: R Sawdon Smith ‘The Artist as Collector: Collecting as Research’ Keepers of Culture (London: Uncertain States)
  • 2015: R Sawdon Smith and Anna Fox (ed) Langford’s Basic Photography 10th Edition (Oxford, Focal Press)
  • 2014: R Sawdon Smith ‘On Morning: Roland Barthes Widowed Mother – the work of Georgia Metaxas’ in Uncertain States issue 20/Open Call
  • 2013: R Sawdon Smith ‘Listening to myself: AIDS and the Politics of Representation – a personal perspective’ in HIV in World Cultures edited by Gus Subero (Farnham: Ashgate)
  • 2013: R Sawdon Smith and Emmanuelle Waeckerle (ed) The Book is A Live! (Manchester: Cornerhouse)
  • 2013: R Sawdon Smith ‘Tattoo Virus: AIDS Representation on the Skin’ in NYX a Noctournal (Goldsmiths University)
  • 2013: R Sawdon Smith ‘Queering the New Normal’ in Uncertain States Magazine issue 20
  • 2012: R Sawdon Smith ‘Richard Sawdon Smith’ in Out There Magazine (London: Brown Tiger Ltd)
  • 2010: R Sawdon Smith and Anna Fox (ed) Langford’s Basic Photography 9th Edition (Oxford, Focal Press)
  • 2007: R Sawdon Smith and Anna Fox (ed) Langford’s Basic Photography 8th Edition (Oxford, Focal Press)
  • 2004: R Sawdon Smith ‘Exiles of Normality: Photography and the Representation of Diseased Bodies’ in P Wagstaff (ed) Cultures of Exile: Images of Displacement (New York: Berghahn)

Works in Books

  • 2019: L Yabsley The Photography Ideas Book (IIex/Tate Publishing)
  • 2019: J-R Barbancho Good as You: Representaciones de la homosexualidad en al art  Contemporánneo 2nd edition (Spain)
  • 2019: Evan Straaten, A Anthonissen Queer!? Beeldende kunst in Europa 1969-2019 (Netherlands, Tekst & Regel)
  • 2018: N Caruana, A Fox Basic Creative Photography 03: Behind the Image: Research in Photography [2nd edition] (Switzerland, AVA)
  • 2018: R Soto. Indetectable (Barcelona: Contra Escritura)
  • 2017: E Evans The Anatomical Tattoo (Chichester: Lotus Publishing)
  • 2016: S Kenny ‘The Anatomical Man’ in Skin Deep Magazine issue 268 October (Chester: Jazz Publishing)
  • 2016: J-R Barbancho Good as You: Representaciones de la homosexualidad en al art  contemporánneo (Spain)
  • 2014: Paco y Manolo (ed) Cuaderno/Guest List (Barcelona)
  • 2013: Paul Schulz, Christian Lütjens (ed). Positive Picture: A Gay History (Germany, Bruno Gmünder)
  • 2012: N Caruana, A Fox. Basic Creative Photography 03: Behind the Image: Research in Photography (Switzerland, AVA)
  • 2010: K Norman Ellis (ed). Spaces Between Us: Poetry, Prose and Art on HIV/AIDS (Chicago, TWP)
  • 2004: E Cooper. Male Bodies: A Photographic History of the Nude (Germany: Prestel)
  • 2003: N Richardson. Pandemic: Facing AIDS (NY: Umbrage)
  • 2003: D Campany. Art and Photography (London: Phaidon)
  • 2000: G Griffin. Representation of HIV and AIDS: Visibility Blue/s (Manchester: Manchester University Press)
  • 1998: C Townsend. Vile Bodies: Photography and the Crisis of Looking, (Prestel: Germany)
  • 1990: E Cooper. Fully Exposed: A History of the Male Nude in Photography, (Routledge: London). Revised Edition 1995

Citations in Books/Journals

  • 2004: M Keiran. Revealing Art: Why Art Matters (Routledge)
  • 2003: S Brown. Crime and Law in Media Culture (OUP)
  • 1999: Body & Society, Vol.5(4): 85-89

Works in Exhibition Catalogues

  • 2014: Uncertain States 5, Bank Gallery London Metropolitan University
  • 2013: Uncertain States 4, Bank Gallery London Metropolitan University
  • 2012: El elogio de la locura. Cuando los compromisos devienen en imagenes by Juan-Ramón Barbancho
  • 2011: Transgression, Beers Lambert Contemporary Art
  • 2008: Just Different, The Cobra Museum of Modern Art Amstelveen, Netherlands
  • 2007: 31 Studio: Platinum Prints 1988 – 2007, Photostroud Festival of Photography
  • 2005: Unfinished Works
  • 2004: Exposed: 31 Studio 1988 – 2004
  • 2002: John Kobal Photographic Portrait Award / NPG
  • 2001: Post Viral: Besides, it is always others who die
  • 2000: Exposure: Hereford Photography Festival
  • 1999: Into the Light: Photographic printing out of the Darkroom, RPS
  • 1997: John Kobal Photographic Portrait Award / NPG

Works in Magazines/Online

  • 2013: Uncertain States Photography Magazine issue 14
  • Sept 2012: Out There Magazine Issue 4
  • August 2011: Streetanatomy.com http://streetanatomy.com/2011/08/25/blood-testing-made-simple/
  • August 2011: CNN.com http://edition.cnn.com/2011/HEALTH/08/10/hiv.tattoos/index.html
  • December 2010: Self Publish Be Happy http://selfpublishbehappy.com/?s=sawdon+smith
  • December 2010: Streetanatomy.com http://streetanatomy.com/2010/12/02/making-the-internal-external/
  • July 2008: They Shoot Homos Don’t They issue 5 Australia
  • Dec 2008: HIVPlus magazine
  • December 2006, 2007: Zero magazine Spain
  • January 2006: New York Art magazine
  • May 2004, Sept 2004: Positive Nation, issue 101, issue 104
  • 07/03/2003: The Pelham Weekly USAJune 1999: Blue, Australia
  • February 1998: Art Review
  • 07/07/98: The Independent,
  • July 1998: Artscene,
  • Nov/Dec 1997, Jan/Feb 1998: The Photographic Journal
  • 1997, 1998, 2001, 2003: Time Out, No. 1417, 1439, 1706
  • June 1998: Flux: Northern Contemporary Art
  • December 1998: Camera Austria
  • 27/9/97, 27/6/98: The Times
  • 27/9/97, 27/6/98, 17/10/98: The Guardian
  • 15/10/97, 22/10/97: Amateur Photographer
  • 5/96, 26/9/97: The London Evening Standard
  • November 1996: Fortean Times, (cover)
  • June 1995: Interiors
  • 20/10/89: New Statesman
  • August 1989: Body Art
  • 27/7/88, 31/8/88, 8/10/97, 15/10/97, 06/12/00: British Journal of Photography
  • 1985: Square Peg, Issue 10 (cover), and issue 18 1998

Conference Organisation

  • Unbounded: The Agency of Art and Design, CHEAD Annual Conference at Sheffield Hallam University 26-28 March 2019. Keynote speaker Darren Henley OBE Arts Council England
  • Human Interfaces: Boarderless (Dis) Connections and Disrupted Futures Association for Photography in Higher Education annual summer International conference at Norwich University of the Arts 19-21 July 2017. Keynotes speakers Mat Collishaw and Duncan Forbes
  • 8-9 June 2012: Book Live! International Symposium, LSBU, Speakers included Joan Foncuberta (SP), Sharon Gallagher (US), Michael Mack (UK), Sharon Kivland (UK).

Conference papers

  • 11-14 May 2021: “Club 18-58: The Unknowing…X pasts, presents, futures” Queer Representation: Pasts, Presents, Futures conference, University of Edinburgh [online],
  • 22 October 2020: “From The Damaged Narcissist to The Anatomical Man to The Unknowing” The London Independent Photographers, invited speaker, London
  • 9 September 2020: “The Unknowing…X: Queering representations of masculinity in an undetectable world” Viral Masculinity conference University of Exeter (online)
  • 2 May 2020: “The Unknowing…X: Queering representations of masculinity in an undetectable world” Head On Photo Festival  (online)
  • 10-11 December 2019: “The Unknowing…X: Queering representations of masculinity in an undetectable world” Massey University, Millennial Masculinities: Queers, Pimp Daddies and Lumbersexuals conference, NZ
  • 3 September 2019: “From The Damaged Narcissist to The Anatomical Man to The Unknowing” Norwich Contemporary Art Society (NCAS) invited speaker, The Forum, Norwich
  • 16 May 2019: ‘The Body Observed – a Response to the Magnum Photography Exhibition’ Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts (SCVA) invited speaker, SCVA, UEA, Norwich
  • 2 December 2017: “Immersion into the HIV Body: Politics of Representation, A Personal Perspective” Maison de la culture Frontenac, ‘Témoigner pour agir’Montreal, Canada
  • 19-21 July 2017: “In Sideshow: Immersion in to the 3D Body” Association for Photography in Higher Education Conference, NUA
  • 23 February 2016: “A Body of Work: The changing face of photography in the 21st century” Professorial talk at NUA
  • 10 June 2015: “The Artist as Collector: Colleting as Research” Invited speaker Derby Format Festival, UK, The Art of Collection Talks
  • 20 November 2015: “The Artist as Collector: Colleting as Research” Invited speaker Victoria and Albert Museum, London, The Art of Collection Talks
  • 1 April 2014: “From the Damaged Narcissist to the Anatomical Man” invited guest speaker at Uncertain States monthly talks, London
  • 21 May 2013: “Queering the New Normal: The Future is Gay” invited speaker at Photography and Queerness Study Day Swedenborg Society London
  • 2 April 2012: “The Anatomical Man: Tattoos, AIDS and Photography” University College London, Art History Department Seminar 2
  • 29-31 March 2012: “The Anatomical Man: Tattoos, AIDS and Photography” Association of Art Historians Annual Conference, Open University
  • 23 June 2011: “The Anatomical Man: Drawing the line on the Aids body” Keynote speaker at Covering & Exposing symposium, UCA Epsom
  • 4-5 February 2010: “Drawing the Line on the AIDS Body”, Drawing the Line Against AIDS conference, University of Adelaide, Australia
  • 5–13 December 2008: “Listening to Myself: Imagining the AIDS Body Through Photography”, AIDS in Culture V: Imaging and Imagining AIDS conference, Mexico City
  • 30 May 2008: “In the Archive: Out of the Closet”, presented at the AIDS/ART/WORK conference, CUNY Graduate School, NY
  • 31 May – 3 June 2001: “Exiles of Normality: Photography and Representations of Diseased Bodies”, presented at the International Colloquium ‘Exils/Exiles’ conference, Herstmonceux Castle Sussex
  • 30-31 March 2001: “Get me OUT of the Archive: AIDS, Photography and the ‘Abnormal’ Body”, presented at the University of Massachusetts ‘Borderlands: Remapping Zones of Cultural Practice and Representation’ conference
  • 18 November 2000: “A Naked Man Suffering From Water Retention In His Testicles”: Photography and the Representation of Disease, presented to the British Sociological Association, London ‘Gender Aesthetics and the Body’ conference

Practice and research outputs

  • 2014: Impossible Gallery, ‘Guest List’, Barcelona Spain
  • 2014: Artist Corner Gallery, ‘Round Hole, Square Peg: Art With A Manifesto’, Hollywood, USA
  • 2014: PhotoLA ‘Round Hole, Square Peg: Art With A Manifesto’, Los Angeles, USA
  • 2014: Bank Gallery, London Metropolitan University ‘Uncertain States 5’ London, Nov
  • 2014: Four Corners ‘Uncertain States Editions’ London June
  • 2013: Newsnight BBC 2, 04/09/13 – item on history of tattoos
  • 2013: Bank Gallery, London Metropolitan University ‘Uncertain States 4’ London, Nov
  • 2013: MACT/CACT Museo d’arte Contemporanea Ticino ‘The Solitary Body: Self-portraiture in Contemporary Photography’ Ticino, Switzerland
  • 2013: Smart Cloths Gallery ‘Round Hole, Square Peg: Queer Identity in the 21st Century’, New York, USA
  • 2012: Royal Academy of Arts ‘Summer Exhibition’ 4th June – 12th August, London UK
  • 2012: Rise Berlin (sole show) ‘The Anatomical Man’ 9th – 31st August, Berlin Germany
  • 2012: Beers Lambert Project Space ‘Transgression’ 2nd June – 12th August , London, UK
  • 2011: Fred International Ltd ‘Queer Self-portraits Now’ 24th Nov – 29th Jan 2012 London, UK
  • 2010: International Museum of Surgical Science, ‘Street Anatomy’ Chicago, USA
  • 2010: Gallery of Contemporary Art Bunkier Sztuki, ‘Nothing is in Place’ Photomonth Krakow, Poland
  • 2010: Rise Berlin ‘Happiness Machines’, Berlin, Germany 26th March – 25th April
  • 2008: Comisión Nacional de Derechos Humanos ‘Listening to Myself’, (solo show) Aids in Culture Conference, Mexico City, Mexico
  • 2008: Cobra Museum of Modern Art, ‘Just Different’, Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • 2008: Student Cultural Centre (solo show) ‘Art Pos(t)er / AIDS Pos(t)er’, Belgrade, Serbia
  • 2008: Centro Historia Zaragossa, ‘El cuerpo (con) sentido’, Spain
  • 2007: Student Cultural Centre ‘In Difference’ Belgrade, Serbia
  • 2007: Rise Berlin ‘Leben Lieben’, Berlin, Germany
  • 2006: MOCCA Courtyard The XVI International AIDS Conference, ‘In Tents City’, Toronto, Canada
  • 2005: Visual AIDS Web Gallery, “The Damaged Narcissist’ (curation)
  • 2005: Orange County Contemporary Arts Gallery, ‘Unfinished Work’, California, USA
  • 2005: Propeller Centre for the Visual Arts, “Refuse to Die”, Toronto, Canada
  • 2005: CDC Public Health Museum, ‘Pandemic: Imaging AIDS’, Atlanta, GA, USA
  • 2004: Kiasma, Museum of Contemporary Art in Helsinki, ‘One Vision’ Finland
  • 2004: Museum Kina of Gent, ‘One Vision’ Belgium
  • 2004: The XV International AIDS Conference, ‘Pandemic: Imaging AIDS’, Bangkok, Thailand
  • 2004: Palais de Tokyo, ‘OneVision’ Paris France
  • 2003: Bombay, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, ‘Pandemic: Imaging AIDS’, India
  • 2003: The Philadelphia Art Alliance, ‘Pandemic: Imaging AIDS’, PA, USA
  • 2003: Brown University, ‘Pandemic: Imaging AIDS’, Providence, RI, USA
  • 2003: Pelham Arts Centre, ‘Photo I-D: 21st Century Self-Portraits’, NY NY
  • 2003: The Tretyakov Gallery, ‘Pandemic: Imaging AIDS’, Moscow, Russia
  • 2002: United Nations, ‘Pandemic: Imaging AIDS’, NY, USA
  • 2002: Pretoria Art Museum, ‘Pandemic: Imaging AIDS’, Pretoria, South Africa
  • 2002: MACBA The XIV International AIDS Conference, ‘Pandemic: Imaging AIDS’, Barcelona, Spain
  • 2002: National Portrait Gallery ‘John Kobal Award 10th Anniversary’ London, UK
  • 2001: Pamukbank Fotografgalerisi, ‘Isik Acik!’ (Into the Light), Istanbul, Turkey
  • 1999: La Calcografia Nacional, ‘A Plena Luz’ (Into the Light), Madrid, Spain
  • 1998: Belem Cultural Centre, Expo’98 ‘A Stroll Through the Century’, Lisbon, Portugal
  • 1997: National Portrait Gallery ‘John Kobal Award’ London, UK
  • 1997 – 1999: Art reviewer / critic: BBC GLR 94.9
  • 1992: The Deep Gallery, (solo show), Tokyo, Japan,
  • 1992: Galerie Godante, (solo show), Kobe, Japan
  • 1991: Salon International de la Recherche Photographique (S.I.R.P.), Royan, France

External Examiner Roles

  • 2015 – 2016: City College Norwich and Great Yarmouth College, Access to HE Art & Design and Media
  • 2013 – 2018: BA (Hons) Contemporary Photographic Art Practice Northbook College
  • 2011 – 2014: BA (Hons) Photography, Canterbury Christ Church University
  • 2005 – 2009: MA Photography, Swansea’s Metropolitan University
  • 2003 – 2006: BA (Hons) Photography, Camberwell College of Art, University of the Arts London
Professor Richard Sawdon–Smith — wearing a grey herringbone suit, over a waistcoat, over a white shirt which is open at the top — sits on a chair in front of a gap between two heavy dark grey curtains, letting in just a little daylight, with a skull tucked behind his foot. He looks serious and pensive.

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