Artist Talk With Sophie Lee

On Monday afternoon we had a wonderful artist talk from Manchester based photographer Sophie Lee. Most of Sophie’s projects are focused on domesticity, religion, education, which are all life paths that try and make sense of the world. She likes to focus on identity of places and people. Sophie creates her work by going to environments and reacting to these environments through visual arts such as video and photography.


  • image from her project: Plain Jane, 2010. 

Sophie first started her career by studying photography Manchester School of Art; graduating in 2010, this was where she created her project called “Plain Jane” inspired by 1962 film The L Shaped Room. In this project she took a character from the film who wasn’t overly important, and gave her a voice within her photographs using the camera as an audience for documenting a private performance. Based on this work she gave us the advice that is is a lot easier to speak about your work in hindsight to give it a true meaning.

After that she went into teaching for a short while, Sophie said she found this experience useful but it was difficult for her to make her own creative work while she was also responsible for 60 students. So after this she went on to create work through using Artist residences, I and many other students had never heard of artist residences before, she informed us that they were opportunities that invite artists away from their usual environment to make work, sometimes these are funded but they can also be unfunded. She has done these in the UK but also out of the UK in places like Iceland. These residences offered her time & space, a chance to build international networks, the opportunity to develop work in a new creative community and the option to collaborate with people within this creative community, and finally they offered her the chance to have the freedom to play with her creative ideas with little pressure. Sophie told us about how she felt like before she would create work and  she would like to keep it very private until she had finished the project,;which is something that I relate to, however doing these residencies allowed her to feel like she could share work in progress and work with others in a creative environment.

Part of her talk she told us about her career as she went into being self employed, with this being my career path right now and hopefully my career path for the future as I continue my business I found this section very intriguing. She told us what it is like to be a artist and be self employed, and how most of her time is spent doing admin work like emails, dealing with expenses and social media and only 2-3 days a week will be spent as a creative. This is something that I have learnt also with my business; how being a photographer in the real world also comes hand in hand with the other aspects of running a business. Other than selling work she explained how her main form of income is from exhibitions, doing talks and teaching and commissioned work.

Sophie ended her talk with some advice for us all:

  • Take all opportunities offered.
  • Make the most out of the environment youre in now: build connections and use the free studios.
  • Figure out what field of art you enjoy by trying out things, your creative niche won’t come to you.
  • Don’t underestimate yourself and the experiences you have had.

Explore more of Sophie’s work here.


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