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.
|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|
|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|
|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|