The Active Image: Political Ecologies & Photographic Agency Exhibition

The Active Image: Political Ecologies & Photographic Agency Exhibition

We are now welcoming submissions relating to issues of social justice and political ecology, that use low-toxicity photographic methods. This exhibition is curated by The Sustainable Darkroom, in collaboration with Sophie Sherwood and Folk House Darkroom, Bristol, UK.

The Sustainable Darkroom is dedicated to exploring sustainability within the realm of photography. It addresses the significant ecological impact of analogue photography and seeks to transform material relationships for a sustainable future. The organisation is committed to acknowledging the harmful histories surrounding photographic metals and chemistries and working towards less toxic futures.

The Sustainable Darkroom provides up-to-date research, resources, and support to practitioners who wish to approach their photographic practice in a more ecologically-considered way. By focusing on habitat loss, species extinction, ocean acidification, industrial toxicity, and environmental racism, they aim to transform the cultures around darkroom practices.

Their goal is to evolve with new knowledge and research, and foster a community of photographers who are mindful of their environmental impact. Through workshops, mentorships, and collaborative projects, The Sustainable Darkroom encourages artists to innovate and implement sustainable practices in their work.

Folk House Darkroom started back in June 2015, overseen by artist Wendy Leocque. Since the pandemic, the original space has unfortunately become unusable. In the meantime, artist, and current Darkroom manager, Sophie Sherwood has built a temporary Darkroom in Room 1 upstairs. Every penny of profit made from running courses and workshops in this space goes towards the refurbishment of our basement darkroom. Folk House Darkroom is passionate about exploring alternative and experimental photography as well as using new more sustainable ways of making photographic and light sensitive imagery.

Terms and conditions:

  • The deadline to submit works is 1st August 11.59 PM (BST)
  • Confirmation of acceptance will be on 8th August
  • The delivery and return of artworks is the responsibility of the artist, along with any insurance. Please consider this when submitting works that may cost more to transport. 
  • Where possible, we ask you to help with the installation of your own works on the 3rd or 4th September
  • Return of artworks should be arranged for Friday 27th September.
  • If selected, you may be asked for additional images/information for promotional purposes. 
  • The Sustainable Darkroom does not take any commission on sales made during the exhibition. Any sales inquiries will be directed straight to the artist.

Frequently Asked Questions:

  • Can I make new work for the exhibition? 

Yes, we accept proposals for ideas of new works that you might wish to make, or work in progress related to the theme of the exhibition.

  • Can I apply as an international artist?

We welcome applications from all countries. Before applying, please make sure that you are able to make the necessary arrangements for delivery and return of the artworks as well as arrangements for installation. Where possible, the movement of art works via air freight should be avoided. We ask that you choose low carbon methods of shipping and refer to Gallery Climate Coalition’s art shipping guide.

  • Who is on the selection panel?

Hannah Fletcher and Alice Cazenave from The Sustainable Darkroom and Sophie Sherwood from Folk House Darkroom

  • Do I need to install my own work?

Where possible, we would ask you to install your own work. Installation will take place on the 3rd and 4th September. You will be asked to come for a few hours across this time. If you are not able to install, then please contact us to discuss.

  • When is the opening? 

The opening is on Thursday 5th September at Create Gallery, Smeaton Road, Spike Island, Bristol, BS1 6XN.

  • How do I get my work back?

You will need to de-install and collect your own work, or make arrangements for the return of your works. Drop us an email if you need support with this.

  • Is there a fee? 

There is no fee to participate in the exhibition.

  • Does my work need to be framed?

It is not necessary to frame your work. Loose works can be secured with magnets or clips. If you would like to frame your work, we strictly ask that you do not use perspex.

  • Does the work need to be wall based?

No, we welcome all forms of work that are relevant to the theme. We have access to a couple of plinths. If you are submitting a video based work, you will need to supply relevant equipment for viewing the work. There are no size restrictions.

  • Can the work be digital and/or use digital technologies?

Yes, works can be made using digital technologies. Please be sure to explain in your application why the materials and methods you have used are relevant and what choices you have made to make the works low toxicity or low carbon.

  • Is the work secure?

The gallery is manned during opening hours with a security guard and reception desk, if your work requires further insurance, this is the responsibility of the artist.

  • What times and dates will the exhibition be open? 

The gallery will be open Monday - Friday, 9am - 5pm.

  • What if I want to take part but don’t want to ship my work from another country? (For environmental, financial or other reasons) 

To coincide with the physical exhibition in Bristol, we will also be producing an online image feature. This will take the form of an image-lead article featured on our website, our mailout and across our social media. If you would like to submit your works for this, then please fill out the application form as normal, selecting ‘online showcase’ in the second question.

Reading & research related to the theme  -

Examples of artists’ work- 

Alice Cazenave -

Steffie de Gaetano -

Edd Carr -

Hannah Fletcher -

Patty Tomanovich -


If you have any questions, please contact us on

To apply please complete the submission form

Back to blog