Ms Lala Meredith-Vula

Job: Reader in Art and Photography

Faculty: Arts, Design and Humanities

School/department: School of Media and Communication

Research group(s): Photography and Video

Address: De Montfort University, The Gateway, Leicester, UK, LE1 9BH

T: +44 (0)116 207 8674

E: lala@dmu.ac.uk

W: www.lalameredithvula.com

 

Publications and outputs 

  • Haystacks
    Haystacks Meredith-Vula, L. A. Documenta is the world’s most famous and respected art event. Since 1972 it has been shown every 5 years and is generally considered ‘the Olympics’ of the art world. The outputs of this project are the two new exhibitions of different bodies of my art work, Haystacks and Blood Memory. The recent focus of my work on such live issues as deprivation, reconciliation and diaspora, as well as its artistic quality, will have led to the decision of Documenta’s curatorial team to choose my work.
  • "Folk Art * Sex Fantasy * Kosova Myths * London diaries"

    "Folk Art * Sex Fantasy * Kosova Myths * London diaries"
 Meredith-Vula, L. A. "Folk Art * Sex Fantasy * Kosova Myths * ‏ Artist Statement Normally people hide their contradictions. In this exhibition I wish to show mine in work made over the past three decades. I want to unify all the elements of myself in my art work. It is like a jigsaw puzzle for the viewer to piece together.... "Folk Art * Sex Fantasy * Kosova Myths * London diaries"
is a solo exhibition and video film. The exhibition was held in London GX gallery in March 2015 that is based on a performance and video art research piece that was originally performed at the Borderlines: conference, De Montfort University, Leicester in June 2014 and is now a video art piece being considered for the video festivals. A catalogue has been produced of the same title.
  • Blood Memory
    Blood Memory Meredith-Vula, L. A. Blood Memory, shown in the National Gallery of Kosova in March 2015, consisted of 40 images from a body of work I carried out in the politically turbulent years of 1990-91. At that time Yugoslavia, where I was born, was on the brink of civil war, threatening the fragile process begun in Kosova of miraculously transforming centuries of bloodshed into a promise of peace and reconciliation. Since the 15th century, families in the region have lived by the grim edict “spilled blood must be met by spilled blood”. In 1990, sickened by the slaughter and destruction as Yugoslavia imploded, the people of Kosova took the future into their own hands. With no formal organisers or leaders, men and women, young and old, all over the country left their homes and trekked all day or hitchhiked on tractors or vans to witness their elders and victims’ families publicly announce forgiveness. They forgave the unforgivable: the destruction of homes and the destruction of lives. Blood Memory shows the crowds assembling with bodies clinging to every incline, mounted on telephone poles, rooftops and trees. At the heart of the group elders ceremonially embrace, arm in arm, hand in hand. Robbed of so many sons and brothers, the grieving crowds give their assent. This exhibition captures the tension of the moment, the solemnity of this life-changing transformation, and the exuberance as the reality of reconciliation strikes home. A dove is released, a white horse is ridden into the crowd, a couple and a drummer clear a space for an impromptu dance. Landscape and figures coalesce in scenes of powerful emotional beauty. How often does a community turn its back on hatred for the good of individuals and society? In a unique re-enactment of the original moment, Erzen Shkololli, Director of the National Gallery, asked to exhibit this work in 2015, a year marked by both European consolidation and growing instability. Working together with Karen McQuaid, of the Photographers’ Gallery, we installed the work, large and small, to encourage the audience to remember, and to move them to relive the moment of 1990-91. My images document the dignity, courage and compassion of ordinary people in an extraordinary time, and serve to inspire future generations to similar acts of altruism. It is about much more than one point in history and one place in Europe. The event it brings to life has powerful implications for other times and other places. That is why the exhibition attracted extensive media attention and was visited by the Presidents of Kosova and of Bulgaria, distinguished representatives of the EU, OSCE, foreign ministers and ambassadors. However, for me the highlight was when it was visited by the people who took part in the movement, their sons and daughters, their grandsons and grand daughters all remembering in front of these photographs. It brought the community together to remember solidarity over hatred. From Kosova in 2015 a message of hope resonates through the world.
  • Shifting borders: solo exhibition with catalogue
    Shifting borders: solo exhibition with catalogue Meredith-Vula, L. A. ‘Shifting borders’ was created with an AHRC award. I created a body of new work, about migration, diaspora, gender and cultural and national identity: a photo essay and album involving Kosova, Albania, London and Leicester and highlighting the Albanian diaspora. The work was undertaken with extreme rigour: 2600 photographs were taken, 60 of which are of exhibition/ publication quality. I lived in Prishtina and Tirana for one month collecting material and interviewing (recorded in 4 sketch books). A catalogue accompanied the solo shows of the new work premiering in the Kosova Art Gallery in 21 May- August 2007 then to the Albanian National Gallery, in Tirana 5 November-December 2007. Some pieces have been selected for the Artissima Contemporary Art Show in Turin (opening November 2007) and a solo show at the Alberto Peola contemporary Art gallery in Turin. The National Gallery of Albania has acquired one of the photographs for its permanent collection. The work is original as I am in a transcultural (and bilingual) position of belonging both to the Albanian diaspora and the UK, having been born in Former Yugoslavia with a Kosova father and British mother. The works of contemporary artists Phil Collins, Adrian Paci, and Shirin Neshat engage with some similar issues to mine, but my black and white purely photographic work is a product of trans-cultural heritage and close engagement with the individuals and communities I represent. The work is significant as when it was shown in Kosova the exhibition was reviewed favourably by 3 TV national channels and featured in 9 of the national news papers. The show was so successful that the gallery director extended the run for one more month. The UN commander general of Kosova (Reikner) attended the opening (some of the works were staged in a military base).
  • Four elements
    Four elements Meredith-Vula, L. A.; Floridi, Massimiliano; Delbene, Giacomo
  • Quattro elementi - four elements
    Quattro elementi - four elements Meredith-Vula, L. A. In 2004 I was invited to Campo Catino, in the mountains southwest of Rome, to participate in Massimiliano Floridi's 'Quattro Elementi' project, designed to help rejuvenate the area by encouraging established artists to draw attention - and tourists - to it. The project’s commissioners - the Doria Pamphilj estate – approached researchers from various disciplines including architecture, sculpture and photography. My research involved the translation of an embodied experience of the landscape, which I experienced over one month, into visual imagery. My completed work was acquired for the permanent collection - which also contains work by Caravaggio, Bruegel and Velazquez - for display in a purpose-built gallery in the mountains. I was inspired by the incredible landscapes and sculptures seen on my walks in the area, and attempted to represent the four elements in my work. I was fortunate to see different seasons on the mountains, from snow to sunshine, and a wide diversity of landscape, from desert to forests and mountains. I researched black-and-white landscape photographers such as Minor White, Ansel Adams and Edward Weston. Their work, however, does not engage with the experience of place as embodied experience, or the changing phases of the “Four Seasons”. During my residency in this location, I revisited sites and took 160 shots, on conventional film as well as digital images to enable me to see my images immediately. Then I selected sixteen shots based on formal and expressive criteria, which I felt best characterised the “Four Elements”. I worked in black and white to emphasise the purity of form, expressive force, and timeless quality of the locations. A book 'Quattro Elementi' illustrated by my work is on sale internationally in art book shops and museums, and is contributing to a deeper understanding of representation and the particularity of place.
  • Women and water: solo exhibition
    Women and water: solo exhibition Meredith-Vula, L. A. Following on from earlier work on the female form and water, for example my 'Bathers' series, I wanted to revisit images of women and water produced by painters such as Degas, Bonnard, and Botticelli. My concept was to investigate the female nude form distorted by water by using photography, as compared to other artists who had used painting or drawing. By positioning the model under water, sensations of space and depth were uncertain and blurred for the viewer. In addition, an almost painterly effect was produced through the movement of the water displaced by the bodies and the play of light. Being a woman, I wanted to investigate how I could portray female nudes in water differently from these male artists, and show the female nudes as active, yet suspended in time and motion. A selection of this work was shown in a solo show at Galerie Kohinoor, Karlsruhe (September-November 2003) and then went on to the Karlsruhe Contemporary Art Show. More recently at the Design Biennale in Kosovo (2006) (winner of the special jury prize). I researched various locations and found pools in the South of France and in Sweden, which were without tiles, so that the figures would appear against a plain background. Tiles would have created a grid behind the figure, and I wanted to avoid this in order to produce a photograph that appeared more abstract from everyday contexts, and more dream-like. I asked friends and models to pose naked for me, after ensuring that they understood the purpose of the work and felt comfortable with this. I took 1000 shots and selected 50, which have been shown at various exhibitions.
  • Marginalised people: solo exhibition
    Marginalised people: solo exhibition Meredith-Vula, L. A. I was awarded the prestigious Sargant Fellowship at the British School in Rome (2001). My project involved bringing people at the margins of society, mainly Albanian refugees and immigrants, into locations where their destitution would appear incongruous in relation to displays of high art. My aim was to photograph these people, in settings that revealed their innate dignity, whilst challenging gallery visitors’ perceptions of appropriate audiences for high culture. I wanted to open my subjects’ eyes to new experiences, but also to raise society’s awareness of their needs and aspirations. The pictures were made to be presented in a gallery context, life-size. This body of work has enhanced knowledge and understanding of representations of migrant people through many shows. For example, the work was exhibited alongside celebrated Mediterranean artists such as Yves Klein and Antoni Tapies in ‘Periplo del Mediterraneo’, curated by Marisa Vescovo as part of Genoa’s celebration of its status as European city of culture(May-July 2004). My work was significant in that it exemplified cultural diversity and cross-fertilisation of Mediterranean artists. My work was exhibited in ‘Responding to Rome’ at the Estorick Collection of Modern Italian art. The curator, Jacopo Benci (Head of Fine Art, British School, Rome) selected my work from many others as representative of the best work produced under the auspices of the British School.(Artists included Mark Wallinger and Richard Billingham) . In producing this research I located, interviewed and hired my models from among a group of illegal immigrants looking for work. I shot approximately 1000 photographs in locations such as art galleries and churches, and produced 30 fine art images to exhibition standard. The work is so effective that two photographs were chosen by Professor Russell King to go on the cover of his latest book ‘The New Albanian Migration’.

 

Click here for a full listing of Lala Meredith-Vula's publications and outputs.

Research interests/expertise

  • Contemporary Photography
  • Video
  • Film
  • Fine Art
  • Contemporary Visual Art
  • Photography and film history
  • Fine Art and Photography practice
  • Focusing particularly themes of migration, diaspora, identity and belonging
  • Art in Eastern Europe both contemporary and historic.

Areas of teaching

  • Photography, Video, Art
  • Photographic, Fine Art and Film/Video Practice 
  • Photographic, Fine Art and Film/Video History
  • Photographic research practices

Qualifications

BA hon Fine Art (London), Post Graduate Studies (former Yugoslavia)

Courses taught

  • Photography and Video BA (Hons)
  • Photography MA
  • Photographic History and Practice MA
  • Media BA (Hons)

Honours and awards

Rome Scholarship, Sargant Fellowship, British School Rome (2001)

Nominated twice for the Paul Hamlyn Award (2002 and 2006)

Bryan Robertson Trust Artist Award (2006)

My Film ‘Are You Everybody?’ is nominated for the ‘Best short film’ category at ‘Doku Fest 10’ International Balkan Film festival (2011)

Conference attendance

Other forms of public presentation

Solo Exhibitions as follows:

2008 Apr, Arte Contemporanea, Alberto Peola Gallery, Torino, Italy

2011 Nov, Harvey Nichols Prism London, London

2012 July, Interlude National Museum of Kosova, Kosova

Group or selective shows as follows:

2008 Jan, “Book 2 ” U H galleries, Margaret Harvey Gallery, St. Albans, England

2008 Jan, “Bologna Art First Arte Fiera” International Fair of Contemporary Art, Bologna, Italy 

2008 Aug, “Freeze 20” with Damien Hirst, Hospital club gallery, London

2008 Sept, “Behind the Walls” Noorderlicht 15 Fries Museum, Leeuwarden, Holland

Toured to ‘Month of the Photography', November Bratislava, Slovakia

2009 Jan, www.throughmyeyes.org.uk: Imperial War Museum on-line exhibition “Through My Eyes”, London

2009 April, August Gallery as part of East 2009 (London Arts’ Festival), London

2009 May-August, “Fotografia” International Photography Festival of Rome, Palazzo delle Esposizioni, Rome, Rome

2009 Dec, “Mulliqi Prize 09” Gallery of Art Kosova, Prishtina, Kosova

2010 March-Sept,“Caravaggio e la Fuga” Palazzo Principe, Genoa, Italy

2010 March, “Are you Everybody” Cultural Xchange DMU, Leicester

2010 April, “Shifting Boarders” Himalaya Gallery Contemporary Art Centre, Chongqing, China
2010 May -June, Fotografia Europea Museo Frati Cappuccini, Reggio Emilia, Italy

2010 Oct, Perception on Reality, Fotohuis, Brugge, Belgium

2011 Sept, Mitrofana Grekova Museum, Novocherkassk – Rostov, Russia

2011 Sept, South Hill Park Arts Centre Bracknell, UK

2011 Nov, Creative Hinckley, Leicestershire, UK

2011 Dec, Bosnian and Hercegovina Embassy Exhibition, London

2012 Jan, ‘Objectives Objectivity’ Offcine Fotografche Rome Italy

2012 Sept, “Time, Place, and The Camera: Photographs at Work” curated by Christine Frisinghelli of Camera Austria, Kosova National Art Gallery, Kosova

Public Film Screenings as Follows:

2010 2 Sept University of Auckland, New Zealand Electroacoustic Symposium

2011 3 Feb   SoundImageSound 8 Festival, Conservatory of Music, University of the Pacific, Stockton, California

2011 23-31 July  Dokufest 10 International Film Festival Prizren 

2012 27 Oct MANTIS FESTIVAL University of Manchester UK

2013 February University of Edinburgh

Externally funded research grants information

  • 2001 Rome Scholarship, Sargant Fellowship, British School Rome £12,000
  • 2006 AHRC small grant in creative and performing arts £19,998

Internally funded research project information

  • ADH Research Leave Award 2012

Case studies

For example, my exhibition “Caravaggio e la Fuga” which exhibited 16 of my large photographs and ran from March – September 2010, had more than 20,000 visitors, many of whom bought the large book published about the exhibition containing a chapter on my work.  Through the medium of the book, the images were also seen by readers who were unable to attend in person.  The work also received extensive coverage in conventional media, including over 40 journals and newspapers in Italy.  The exhibition was reviewed favourably in the Spectator (Sept 2010) in the UK.  In all these ways, it is clear that it reached at least the existing audience for art.

But significant effort was also devoted to widening the appeal of the exhibition.  The challenge was to reach a different art audience.  The show was promoted on Facebook - a social network with over 400 million users world wide and 14 million in Italy.  Game applications, Facebook ads, and other activities were designed to announce the exhibition appealing to universal concepts and aiming to share them in an accessible way.  Facebook users were enticed to escape from everyday life and the city, and to respond to the evocative power of landscape, with my landscape photographs playing a key part alongside old masters.

There was also a downloadable application from the AppStore showing in iTunes.  Visitors to the exhibition could down load the app and walk around the exhibition with the information audio information and then take it away as a virtual souvenir of great art historical value.

There was evidence therefore of the impact of my art work, that many people came because of these promotions, and that the impact of the exhibition extended beyond the gallery into people’s own homes.

lala portrait

Search Who's Who

 
News target area image
News

DMU is a dynamic university, read about what we have been up to in our latest news section.

Events target area image
Events

At DMU there is always something to do or see, check out our events for yourself.

Mission and vision target area image
Mission and vision

Read about our mission and vision and how these create a supportive and exciting learning environment.