Julia Winckler is a photographer and anthropologist, working through layers of physical and cultural geography, history and memory, piecing together fragments that establish links between our collective past and present. Julia is also an experienced arts facilitator, curriculum developer and lecturer.
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Lost and recovered memories have been a key theme of Julia’s work to date. Memory and migration narratives of emigration (Two Sisters), exile and loss (Traces), exploration (Retracing Heinrich Barth), displacement (Leaving Atlantis), and now expedition/peregrination have been visualized and probed using the language of photography. These projects have been disseminated through public exhibitions, at conferences, exhibition catalogue publications and public engagement workshops, as well as informing Julia’s teaching practice. In addition, cross-cultural narratives of exile and hybridity have been explored through writing and publishing within academic contexts (e.g. in book form Her Majesty’s Most Loyal Internee: Fred Uhlman in Captivity; or the journal article Regards Croisées: James Henry Dorugu’s 19 C European Journey). The charity Mate Ni Kane recently translated Regards into French and German and shared the research with communities in Niger.
Building on an SSHRC funded research project Knowledge for Solidarity led by Prof. Adrienne Chambon (University of Toronto), which explored the emergence of child welfare support, predominantly within a downtown migrant neighborhood in Toronto (The Ward) at the start of the last century – and focusing on one agency’s archival collection of photographs, minute books and other documents – Julia is currently a collaborator, with Adrienne Chambon, and Professors Vid Ingelevics and Ernie Lightman, on a four year insight grant (2013-2017) exploring incidental portraits of children at play in The Ward (1909-1929), drawing on a vast collection of photographs held at City of Toronto archives. From streets to playgrounds, a co-curated exhibition, runs at the City of Toronto archives gallery until August 2017.
Julia’s research interests are interdisciplinary, and bring together knowledge gained from her degrees in African studies, anthropology, social work and photography.
She studied in Anthropology (BA University of Toronto, High Distinction, 1993), Photography (University of Brighton, First Class, 2001) and a Master degree in Social Work (University of Toronto, Dean’s list, Distinction, 1995). Her research investigates archival traces within the context of collective memory and migration narratives. Her key research question probes how neglected archival sources can reveal forgotten histories of great significance to our understanding of the present. Applying a creative and interpretive photographic approach, using photographs as tools to think about historical experience, multiple articulations of memory and meaning are expressed, with the aim of generating new academic knowledge.
In Birds of Heaven (2005), the author Ben Okri describes “the artist [as] a conduit through which lost things are recovered”. Julia’s research methodology considers archival research as a ‘material, embodied practice’. Through extensive investigation in archives, she gathers materials and maps out a strategy and approach. She then travels to the sites that have historical significance to each project. Through ‘recreation and visualisation,’ using photography as the key medium, past memories are reframed and resituated in the present.
Combining an archaeological with a genealogical approach, traces are first discovered and documented; their value and significance to the present assessed and reinterpreted, as some of the historical functions are lost or no longer important. The genealogical approach necessitates an investigation that starts in the present, a retracing of the journey, on location, that is physical and experimental, setting up encounters and dialogues.
Often a new project will be re-photographed and reworked through projection, digital manipulation, layering and bricolage. These processes emphasize that her own access to the material is usually not immediate but mediated and that each narrative can contain multiple meanings when revisited over time.
Julia Winckler is also an experienced arts facilitator and curriculum developer, educator and participatory arts facilitator, and has developed curriculum and arts projects in academic environments and for community organizations in Canada, Britain, Niger (West Africa) and Hong Kong (China).
Her arts projects have been exhibited internationally in France, Germany, Taiwan, Cyprus, Italy, Canada and Britain. Recent solo exhibitions include Stories from Agadez at the Immagimondo Festival in Lecco, Italy (2009) and Retracing Heinrich Barth, a major multi-media exhibition at the Brunei Gallery, SOAS, London, in 2008, which was accompanied by an exhibition catalogue, education and events program. Earlier photographic projects include ‘Traces,’ with solo exhibitions at the Austrian Cultural Forum, London (2012), the Wiener Library (2003 London), the Maison Heinrich Heine (2003 Paris), the Gedenkstätte Oberer Kuhberg (Ulm 2002) and the Schlatterhaus (Tübingen 2003); ‘Two Sisters’ at the Manx Museum (2004 Douglas) and the Mediatheque Francois Mitterand (Poitiers 2004); and ‘Leaving Atlantis’ (2003), a collaboration with artist Nerea Martinez de Lecea, which premiered at Random-Ize Taipei, Taiwan.
An archival collaboration included a joint research project on Tunisian cultural heritage with colleagues Dora Carpenter-Latiri and Karin Jaschke at Brighton.
Julia lectures in photography at the University of Brighton, Faculty of Arts, where she teaches on the Photography BA(Hons), and the MA Creative Media. Units taught include: Experimental Archaeology: within and beyond the archive; Photographic Journeys; Participatory Media Production for Social Change. In addition, Julia co-coordinates professional practice seminars at Level 6 and supervises dissertations.
Between 2009-2011, Julia was teaching fellow at SOAS, University of London, Department of Anthropology and Sociology. Together with Jens Franz she co-convened an MA Media Production Skills module.
Julia’s interests in therapeutic uses of photography have found expression in book chapters such as ‘Acts of Embodiment: explorations of collaborative phototherapy’ co-authored with Stephanie Conway, for Wild Fire: Art as Activism, Deborah Barndt (ed) 2006, Sumach Press; ‘Connecting Self and the World: Image-ing Community’ for Through Our Eyes: My Light 2008, Robert H.N. Ho Foundation, Hong Kong. The chapter ‘The time we were not born’: experimental archaeology – working within and beyond the photographic archive with photography students”, was published in 2013 in Phototherapy and Therapeutic Photography in a Digital Age (editor Prof. Del Loewenthal, Roehampton).
Julia is a member of The National Union of Journalists and the Heinrich Barth Society.
Book and journal publications:
Winckler, Julia ‘Quite content to be called a good craftsman’ – an exploration of Wolf Suschitzky’s extensive contributions to the field of applied photography between 1935 and 1955′ for the Yearbook 19: Émigrés and the Applied Arts in Britain, 1933-51. Forthcoming
Winckler, Julia and Chambon, Adrienne (2017), ‘Compelling Evidence: mobilizing the Carlton Hill photographic archive’, in Visual Methodologies.
Winckler, Julia (2015) Introduction Dorougou, un fils de la region de Zinder In: Marka, Bello M. and Bahari, B., eds. Histoire de Dorougou, racontee par lui-meme. Editions Albasa, Niamey, Niger, pp. 13-21. ISBN 9791094526224
Winckler, Julia (2015) Carlton Hill – The Children of Brighton’s Displaced Community [Exhibition]
Brinson, Charmian and Winckler, Julia (2015) Two sisters: contrary lives In: Kadar, Marlene and Perrault, Jeanne, eds. Working Memory: Women and Work in World War II. Wilfrid Laurier University Press, Canada. ISBN 9781771120357
Winckler, Julia (2015) Evoking ‘Lureland’: Site-marking the pioneer bungalows of Peacehaven Journal of Writing in Creative Practice, 8 (1). pp. 63-84. ISSN 1753-5190
Winckler, Julia (2014) The first rule of Photography is Patience: the Photographs of Wolf Suschitzky In: Omasta, Michael, Mayr, Brigitte and Wallis, Tony, eds. Wolf Suschitzky: Seven Decades of Photography. Synema, Vienna, pp. 9-13. ISBN 9783901644610
Winckler, Julia (2013) ‘The time we were not born’: experimental archaeology – working within and beyond the photographic archive with photography students In: Loewenthal, Del, ed. Phototherapy and therapeutic photography in a digital age. Routledge, London, pp. 128-142. ISBN 9780415667364
Winckler, Julia (2013) War, memory and photographic traces In: Niznik, J., ed. Twentieth Century Wars in European Memory. Studies in Social Sciences, Philosophy and History of Ideas . Peter Lang, Frankfurt, Germany, pp. 89-102. ISBN 9783631627853
Winckler, Julia (2012) Traces / Spuren Austrian Cultural Forum, London, UK. ISBN 9780955522963
Chambon, Adrienne , Johnstone, Marjorie and Winckler, Julia (2011) The material presence of early social work: the practice of the archive The British Journal of Social Work, 41 (4). pp. 625-644. ISSN 1468-263X
Brinson, Charmian, Müller-Härlin, Anna and Winckler, Julia (2009) His Majesty’s loyal internee: Fred Uhlman in captivity Vallentine Mitchell, Edgware. ISBN 9780853039303
Winckler, Julia (2009) Regards croisés: James Henry Dorugu’s nineteenth-century European travel account Journeys, 10 (2). pp. 1-30. ISSN 1465-2609
Rodriguez-Echavarria, Karina, Pemberton, Lyn and Winckler, Julia (2008) Retracing Heinrich Barth at the Brunei Gallery, SOAS: digital technologies to support exhibition development and encourage visitors participation VAST 2008: Proceedings of the 9th International Symposium on Virtual Reality, Archaeology and Cultural Heritage. pp. 97-102.
Winckler, Julia (2008) Retracing Heinrich Barth [Exhibition]
Winckler, Julia, Carillo, Erminia, Rodriguez Echavarria, Karina and Pemberton, Lyn (2008) Retracing Heinrich Barth at the Brunei Gallery, SOAS: using digital technologies to support exhibition development and encourage visitor participation In: The 9th International Symposium on Virtual Reality, Archaeology, and Cultural Heritage.
Winckler, Julia (2008) Through Our Eyes My Light: Connecting Self and World, and Image-ing the Community In: Through Our Eyes My Light. Robert H.N. Ho Family Foundation, Hong Kong, China, pp. 7-16. ISBN 978-988-98979-0-1
Winckler, J. and Conway, S. (2006) Acts of embodiment In: Barndt, D., ed. Wild fire: art as activism. Sumach Press, Toronto, Canada, pp. 205-220. ISBN 1894549554
Winckler, Julia (2003) Gespräch mit Wolfgang Suschitzky, Fotograf und Kameramann, geführt in seiner Wohnung in Maida Vale, London, am 15. Dezember 2001, 22. März 2002, 17. Mai 2002 In: Film und Fotographie: Exilforschung. An international yearbook of exile studies, 21 . Edition Text + Kritik, München, Germany, pp. 254-279. ISBN 3-88377-746-3
Traces/Spuren Exhibition catalogue, co-authored with Edward Timms, Deborah Schultz, Helene Roussel, Wojchiech Kielkowski, Austrian Cultural Forum London 2012
Retracing Heinrich Barth, Brunei Gallery, SOAS, London 2008
Two Sisters, Manx National Heritage, Manx Museum, Isle of Man 2004
Winckler, Julia (2015) Regards Croises – James Henry Dorugus Bericht über seine Reise nach Europa Heinrich Barth Kurier, 2 (15). pp. 11-34. ISSN 2195-9951
Winckler, Julia and Anghilerie, Paolo (2010) Fotoreportage: stories from Agadez Caposud, 2 (1). pp. 22-29.
2006: Magazine article (in German) ‘Auf den Spuren von Heinrich Barth in Niger’, Heinrich Barth Kurier, and online article
2005: Magazine article ‘The photography of Wolfgang Suschitzky’, in London Independent Photography, Winter issue
2005: Magazine feature: Frankfurter Rundschau (in German) 10 page spread, educational supplement
2013-2017: SSHRC Insight Grant, Canada, over four years. PI Prof Adrienne Chambon.
2009 – 2010: SSHRG funded research project Knowledge for Solidarity; University of Toronto, Principal investigator Prof. Adrienne Chambon (as collaborator).
2009 -2012: Brief Encounters Grant Photographic Interpretations of Tunisian Cultural Heritage(lead researcher Dr. Dora Carpenter-Latiri, School of Humanities and Karin Jaschke, School of Architecture
Participatory art practice and social engagement consultancy
2014- now: Education consultant for Kaitak, Hong Kong Baptist University, ‘Through our Eyes’.
2013- 2014: Friends of Downlands, Peacehaven Pioneers Project. Planning committee member, consultant and workshop facilitator, Heritage Lottery funded.
2008: Brunei Gallery, London; comprehensive education program at SOAS, London for four schools from Tower Hamlet and Camden, to coincide with ‘Retracing Heinrich Barth’ exhibition
2006 – 2008: Robert H. N. Ho Foundation, Hong Kong, ‘Through Our Eyes’ Project Consultant & Lead curriculum developer
2005: Niger, West Africa; ‘Stories from Agadez: Life as it is now’ project with NGO Hed Tamat
Conference and panel presentations
2017 Sussex Modernists and Transformations in the Twentieth-Century Landscape Conference, University of Sussex ‘Fabricating Lureland: A history of memory of place’.
2015 Utopia conference, ‘The Peacehaven Post’, CAPPE, University of Brighton
2015 Brighton Writes, ‘Site-marking the pioneer bungalows of Peacehaven’ University of Brighton
2012: Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw War and Memory in 20th Century Europe Paper:War, Memory and PhotographicTraces
“Photographs of Tunisia during the Ben Ali era” (with Karin Jaschke) part of The Arab Spring: Day Symposium to mark the first anniversary of The Tunisian Revolution organized by Dr. Dora Carpenter-Latiri and the Centre for Memory, Narratives and Histories, University of Brighton.
2011: “Working with Archives: Boundaries and Materiality in Archival Research in Social Work” University of Mainz; organized by the University of Toronto.
2010: University of Sussex, International Autobiography Association conference ‘Life writing and intimate publics’. Panel presentation with Prof. Edward Timms and Dr. Deborah Schultz
2009: University of Toronto, Talk at Factor Inventash School: ‘The Practice of the Archive’
2009: Lecco, Italy, Immagimondo Festival; Panel: ‘La situation politique des Touaregs au Niger’
2006: University of Sussex, Researching Lives Conference ‘Retracing Heinrich Barth’ with Mia Thornton
2006: National University of Taipei, Taiwan: ‘Artistic Practice within the context of new digital technologies’
Selected solo exhibitions
2012: Traces/Spuren, Austrian Cultural Forum London.
2009 : ‘Stories from Agadez,’ Immagimondo Festival, Les Cultures Onlus, Lecco, Lake Como, Italy.
2008: ‘Stories from Agadez,’ Black History Month, Merton Council, London.
2004: ‘Two Sisters,’ Mediatheque Francois Mitterand, Poitiers, France.: ‘Two Sisters,’ Manx Museum of National Heritage, Isle of Man, British Isles.
2003: ‘Traces,’ Maison Heinrich Heine, Paris, France: ‘Traces,’ Schlatterhaus, Tübingen, Germany
2002: ‘Traces,’ KZ Memorial Museum Oberer Kuhberg, Ulm, Gemany
2002: ‘Traces,’ Wiener Library, London
Selected group exhibitions
2012: ‘Leaving Atlantis’ (with Nerea Martinez de Lecea) Aberystwyth Arts Centre, Wales
2007: ‘Things we Love,’ Crane Kalman Gallery, Brighton
2007: International Photography Biennial, Near East University, Cyprus
2003: ‘Leaving Atlantis’ with Nerea Martinez de Lecea, Random-Ize Taipei, Taiwanese Art Festival
2001: Collection Cabinets: An Accessible Archive,’ Gardener Arts Centre, Brighton.
Citations and reviews
2012: “Winckler’s work sings with love and art, and a delicacy and care that are rare and moving. She truly brings back to life some essence that had vanished. There is once again presence in the absence – in these haunting faces, their eyes dark and sunken, their expressions so recognisably and universally human.”
Review of Traces exhibition by Clare Best in The London Magazine, 3 May, 2012
2008: “Retracing Heinrich Barth is a stunning travelling and virtual exhibition (recently on display at the Brunei Gallery at SOAS) seeking to connect and bridge the citizens of present day Agadez, the historical figure of Heinrich Barth, and Sahelien immigrant communities living in the UK. I highly recommend visiting their site.”
“This impressive-looking website aims to detail the life, journeys and explorations of Heinrich Barth. Barth travelled extensively, during the nineteenth-century, in Agadez and Tintellust, Niger, West Africa, on behalf of the British Government and British Foreign Office. Perhaps Barth’s greatest contributions to history were his understanding of the impact of European powers on African society, and the pressing need to document day-to-day African culture, and oral and traditional African histories. This website makes use of a recent discovery of a Barth ‘museum’ in Africa, located in Barth’s house in Agadez and containing many of his original possessions. The major section of the website is a flash presentation of the findings at Barth’s museum: there is a large collection of photographs, and some films, of life in Agadez, Barth’s house and his possessions. The website is very well put together and documents a vital part of African culture, heritage and history.”
(Arts & Humanities, 5 August 2008)
“This meeting point of European dream and African reality is reflected in this exhibition. But here, we find not only the voice of the traveler, but the travelled too. Here we are not footstepping fantasies, but seeing, hearing and meeting people of today. We have to listen, observe and respect. We cannot project our dreams, confident of them never being countered. This makes for a more difficult journey. But when has making discoveries ever been comfortable? When has seeing anew been anything other than awkward?”
(Dea Birkett, April 2008)
“The first archive that Julia encountered was the original text written in German by Heinrich Barth, which she located in the French national repository of colonial documents. The braiding of the German/French complex of this archive reflected the vagaries of colonial administration. The author’s anti-slavery position was part of the discovery. His statements from the 1850s diverge considerably from those of his time. His words offer an early tracing of the movement of ideas that have come into the present. He sounds more like one of our contemporaries. From this point on, this work takes us through multiple space/time peregrinations.
“Several years later, Julia heard about a second Heinrich Barth archive, in Agadez, Niger, where his steps had him. It is not a text, but a space, a house, a room. Not merely a storage space, instead a space that preserves and honors the special relationship between this traveller from afar and a Tuareg family that developed over an extended period of time. Barth’s former presence has been given a space inside the Tuareg home.
“The archive is more than the text, it is the house. The one who stands before us welcomes us, bids us to enter. The color of his garment, the local indigo blue, so valued by the Tuaregs, is that color that was used as the royal or sacred color during the Middle Ages in Europe to paint (or weave) the king’s or the Virgin’s dress, and thus had to be imported. Indeed, the pastel plant of temperate climates yields a much lighter color. It is the indigo dye that obtains this deep blue shade, this impossible color that is more than color, rapturous color which bids us to solemnity and reverence. The one who guards the room stands ceremoniously beside the entrance. We pause as we enter. We step fully into the archive with our body retreating from the glaring sun into the dark, peaceful sanctuary, a place removed, protected, sheltered.
“For a long time, the building was unmarked, which is what preserved it. The commercial logic of tourism has opened up this place, shaping it into a public good on the way to consumerism. It is becoming a museum. For the time being, the archive evades this outcome. How? All objects are equally important. Therefore all (and each interchangeably) stand for the former presence and relationship. Moreover, as a museum, it acts, through a movement of reversal, by grounding the artifacts of the colonizer in the local space rather than removing local artifacts from colonized places into the prestigious museums of the colonizing nations. This work then confounds our expectations and turns time and space upon themselves. In Agadez, the visitors are the others.
“Even after the visit, the journey remains open to questions. Julia takes care to let us know that maybe this is not the original arkheion, the room and its contents. Maybe the space has been modified to suit the visitors. And even if it is the same décor, repainted perhaps, and (some of) the same objects, still it might not be the same. The open-endedness of the story anchors the questions in a more resolute manner.”
(Adrienne Chambon, University of Toronto 2008 – From the ‘Archive as Text to the Archive as Dwelling’)
2007: “An artist and lecturer in photography has launched a new website that investigates the travels of 19th century German explorer Heinrich Barth. Winckler has worked to create an artistic response to Barth’s trip through North and Central Africa in the 1850s alongside an archive exploring his stories and anecdotes. As part of her research she repeated one of Barths’ dramatic expeditions, recording parts of it on film and video.”
(Katie Millies 28 February 2007, 24-hour museum)
2004: “Wim Wenders, Jean-Michel Palmier and Julia Winckler have traversed Berlin and its past. They have searched for traces of a bygone time, their journeys and search in the footsteps of others have lead them to discover haunting memories. Their art, as a filmmaker, a writer, and a photographer respectively; an their knowledge, sensibilities and sometimes even their imagination have allowed them to reconstitute, out of fragments an intimate as well as a collective memory.”
(Prof Marc Charpentier, University of Poitiers on ‘Two Sisters’)
“The artist, Julia Winckler, provided a fascinating insight into the historical background behind the exhibition at the public lecture held at the Manx Museum on the previous evening. To a large and appreciative audience, Julia Winckler explained the inspiration behind the exhibition and discussed the personal journey that she had made to create it. Julia was extremely pleased to be able to talk to several people after the lecture about their own personal memories relating to the Rushen Internment Camp during the Second World War. Yvonne Cresswell, Curator of Social History at Manx National Heritage said: ‘Julia may have only spent the last few years working on the ‘Two Sisters’ photographic project but it is a journey that has taken her a lifetime. From her early childhood memories and conversations with her grandmother and great aunt, the ‘Two Sisters’ of the exhibition title, through to her chance discovery of an old family photograph. Julia has been making a series of journeys from Berlin, London to the Isle of Man, to find out what happened to her grandmother and great aunt during the Second World War. And the result of those journeys is the ‘Two Sisters’ exhibition and it is a journey that is still continuing.’ “The Two Sisters exhibition is a fascinating example of something that we all do… we remember stories about our families that we were told when we were young. Then we try to imagine what life was really like for the people in those photographs, lives that were as rich and varied as our own.
“Julia Winckler has taken that fascination with our personal history and the lives of our families and has succeeded in recreating and rediscovering the lives of two sisters from her own family and bringing them out of the faint shadows of the past into the Twenty-first century.”
(Yvonne Cresswell, Curator, Social History, Manx National Heritage)
“Ever looked at old family photographs and wondered what stories lie behind the faces? Julia Winckler’s photographic exhibition sets out to do just that, focussing on the contrasting wartime memories and experiences of two sisters, the artist’s grandmother Viktoria and her great aunt, Martha. Whilst Viktoria lived and worked in Berlin throughout the Second World War, her sister Martha was interned as an enemy alien on the Isle of Man. The exhibition is a lovingly crafted artist’s tribute to the lives of her relatives, as well as an intriguing history lesson on the subject of internment on the Isle of Man during the Second World War.”
(Simon Barrett, www.24hourmuseum.org.uk)
“Rummaging in the attic can sometimes unearth unusual discoveries. When the photographer, Julia Winckler moved into her great aunt’s house she found recordings of her singing and photographs of her family that she’d never seen. She started to ask questions about what both her German grandmother and her great aunt did during the 2nd World War. The result is an exhibition at the Manx Museum on the Isle of Man and in Poitiers in France, which recreates the extraordinary lives of two sisters caught on different sides of the English Channel when war broke out. While her grandmother, Viktoria, married a soldier, her sister Martha, who had been living in England, was interned as an enemy alien on the Isle of Man, where she met and fell in love with a Jewish refugee, Hugo. This is a fascinating project.”
(Angela Robson, BBC journalist, for Woman’s Hour)
2003: “These images make visible two opposing and yet interdependent issues: on the one hand they show the effort to create a personal memory of this family’s history through remaining traces which still exist in the form of a few objects as well as in specific places. From the two small surviving photographs we travel to Krakow and Auschwitz, these are concrete traces, but they leave a lot of room for the imagination. On the other hand, the images indicate the fragmentary nature of these traces, and make visible the fundamental void left by the Shoah. They also indicate the limits of existing traces: the places evoked in the images taken in Poland bear witness to the absence of people who were lost in the Shoah as much as they speak about their former lives there.”
(Prof Helene Roussel, ST Denis, Paris, on ‘Traces’)