Only the best graduate photographers in the country have their work selected for exhibition by the prestigious, annual Cream competition. Caterina Lombardi, a 2018 graduate from BA(Hons) Photography, was one of the outstanding few.
Every year, officials and industry professionals at the Crane Kalman Gallery in Brighton go through the portfolios of BA graduates, searching for ten extraordinary photographers.
The final projects selected by the Cream team represent “the most interesting and diverse photographic talents” that have emerged from universities and colleges across the UK. It’s a highly competitive selection process that results in a month-long exhibition at the gallery.
Affiliated with the leading modern art gallery (of the same name) in London, the Crane Kalman Gallery in Brighton is focussed purely on photography, which they assert is “becoming the 21st century’s most collectable art form”, “finding a place on the walls of homes around the country, in many instances replacing traditional paintings”.
Caterina told us: “I felt incredibly honoured to be chosen as part of their Cream shortlist, and it was a privilege to have my project seen in the company of such talented photographers. To have the work exhibited for a month was amazing.”
Caterina’s final BA project, SATIS, was inspired by the famous American photographer Richard Misrach, who said he “came to believe that beauty can be a very powerful convert of difficult ideas. It engages people when they might otherwise look away”. Caterina’s project was a Feminist series of still life photographs about atrocities against women.
On first look, the photographs are unassuming, beautifully shot images of vases, flowers and other objects captured in an intriguing, slanting light.
Look closer; mess and decay is revealed. Wine spilled on a perfect white cloth. A broken glass. An abandoned wedding veil. A pearl necklace. A pile of red mulch. Dying flowers.
Caterina explained: “I hope those who saw the work felt inspired to educate themselves on the inequality of women worldwide. Using intertextuality and the sublime in still life, it was intended to capture an audience’s attention.” The project uses beauty to draw people in, engaging the audience before revealing the ugly truth that lies beneath the surface.
Developing conceptual understanding, photographic knowledge and practical skills is a key focus of the BA(Hons) Photography course, as it helps students prepare for the industry.
Caterina told us: “I was really lucky to be supported throughout my degree by such intelligent and kind staff in the Institute of Photography. The lecturers and technicians all consistently go out of their way to answer your questions and keep the morale high. They also have a fantastic guest lecture programme, where artists can come and discuss their work and their journey. My favourites were Art Director Sarah Ward, and the Photographic Manager at VOGUE, Alastair Nicol, who both gave interesting and encouraging talks.”
Since graduating, Caterina has worked for several creative media agencies and has produced a fashion shoot in Paris. Being selected by Cream has opened many doors for her and has shown the quality work that is typical of the Institute of Photography.