Grotesque photography earns DMU student art award


Portrait photography exploring the menacing and the grotesque has earned a cash prize and exhibition for a Fine Art MA student from De Montfort University Leicester (DMU).


Tiffany looking elated at Leicester's New Walk Museum

Tiffany Tangen’s photography depicts subjects in a ‘hypnogogic’ state, emphasising their faults and personal insecurities as a way of highlighting the physical and mental strain plaguing ordinary people.

She has adopted a distinctive paint-brush effect as a ‘separation method’ to help distance the audience from the image while still making it relatable.

Tiffany was announced as a joint winner of the Leicester Society of Artists Student Award 2016, receiving a £500 cash prize and the chance to exhibit her work at Leicester’s New Walk Museum until mid-December.

“This will be my first formal exhibition outside of DMU, which is a great opportunity and feels like a real achievement for me,” she said.

Thanks to being awarded a Vice-Chancellor's 2020 scholarship, which offers an MA tuition fee discount of up to 50 per cent, Tiffany is now focussing her art on people in medical profession, which she calls the ‘forgotten workforce’.

She said: “There’s no way I would have been able to afford to do my MA without this scholarship. It’s given me the chance to live on my own, focus and become a better artist.”


One unexpected outcome of her time at DMU has been discovering a passion for volunteering, which started with a simple First Aid training session through DMU Square Mile.

From fundraising for guide dogs to helping raise the spirits of sick children, Tiffany clocked up an impressive 200 hours of volunteering during the last academic year and was recognised with a De Montfort Students’ Union Volunteering Award for Dedication.

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She said: “I hadn’t volunteered before last year and never considered doing anything other than focussing on my degree.

“Once I realised how much DMU has to offer, university became a lot more exciting!”

Tiffany’s desire to ‘give something back’ to the community spurred her on to train in teaching English to speakers of other languages with Absolutely English in Dorset.


Since then she has worked with 18-year-old Russian students and has also partnered up with Bell Beyond in Italy to teach English to young children in Florence this summer.

“I’ve always wanted to be a good person and DMU has given me the opportunity to do just that,” said Tiffany.

While studying her MA Tiffany intends to get her Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) accreditation through #DMUglobal, which offers it to students for just £50. 

The aspiring photography lecturer said: “Giving back to people is the perfect way to gain transferable skills. I feel like life an industry experience will massively improve my teaching.” 

Tiffany’s exhibition at New Walk Museum is featured alongside that of runner-up Alice Heaton’s, a DMU Design Crafts graduate whose stunning glasswork featured on the Graduate Fashion Week catwalk this summer, both shown as part of Leicester Art Week.

Posted on Thursday 10th November 2016

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