Dr. Sheona Beaumont (b.1979, Bristol) is an artist and writer who uses photography to explore religious traditions and beliefs. Connected to her family’s work in the Church of England both in the UK and East Africa, her photographs and publications explore community, landscape, motherhood and the language of the Bible as expressions of visual theology.

At school, I did Physics and Maths alongside Art & Design because I liked scientific visualisation. I liked ‘getting’ what I saw, especially the mechanics of illusory trompe-l’oeil painting (and especially the incredible pillars at the Bruchsal Palace in Germany). In my adult mind, photography’s superlative trompe-l’oeil magic is like a star-clustered nebula unveiling myriad ways in which we speak in illusions to each other and ourselves. The nebula has an extremely wide colour gamut of photographic practices: in my life I’ve worked with wedding photographers, studio print businesses, graphic designers, paparazzi, digital artists, forensic recorders, Instagram fanatics and my mum with her 35mm disposable cameras.

I prefer to sit on the edge of the practitioner spectrum, keeping in view the nebula as a whole – which is, after all, rather beautiful. I make a habit of looking critically at photographic looking, and expecting to find it decidedly unscientific. I also trace its theories and its histories for spirituality, and its users (including myself), for their belief in its technology. In particular, I’m interested in how photography’s own language brings realism to theological ideas and vice versa (especially through the Bible’s lens). I ask whether the ghost in the machine might turn out to be God. And so I write and I make photographs and I read and I look.

I married a man who keeps my feet on earth’s ground, like his biblical namesake, and we have two gravity-defying children. I live in Wiltshire, the origin of the photographic Big Bang, where William Henry Fox Talbot happened to write about Genesis as well as creating his own.


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Positions held
2017- Co-founder of Visual Theology
Visiting Research Fellow at King’s College London
2019-2021 Photographer in Residence, St Cyriac’s Church, Lacock, Wiltshire
2017-2020 Bishop Otter Scholar, Diocese of Chichester
2014-2015 Artist in Residence, Trinity College, Bristol
2003-2004 Artist in Residence, Princetown, Devon
   
Selected exhibitions
2021 Spotlight On: Modern and Contemporary Art from the Collection of Chippenham Museum, Chippenham Museum, Wiltshire
2019 Scriptorium, The Bishop’s Palace, Chichester, West Sussex
2018 Where is God in our 21st Century World?, Chaiya Art Awards, gallery@oxo, London
2014 Standing Room Only, Bristol Cathedral, Bristol
2014 Summer Exhibition, Royal Academy, London
2013 Stewards of the Earth, Sarum College, Salisbury
2012 RGB Awards, The Grant Bradley Gallery, Bristol
2012 Elemental, Glenfall House, Cheltenham; Colston Hall, Bristol
2011 Faith in the City, Red Gallery, Shoreditch, London
2011 Open Photography 2, Royal West of England Academy, Bristol
2010 Bristol Through the Lens, The Photo Gallery and The New Room, Bristol, part of the Bristol Festival of Photography
   
Education
2011-2017 PhD Photography and Theology, University of Gloucestershire
2003-2004 MA Visual Culture, University of Nottingham
1998-2001 BA (Hons) Fine Art, University for the Creative Arts, Canterbury