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Visual Communication (MA)

Oliver Sharpe

Oliver Sharpe is a multimedia artist exploring body and mind dualism using photography and design to question how we interact with and relate to our environments both physically and mentally. His storytelling re-discovers his immediate surroundings as allegories for his past experiences by drawing our attention away from the nostalgic stereotypes or sanitised narratives associated with well known urban areas. Instead he turns a static location into a living entity, weaving his own thoughts and feelings into its consciousness to problematise the separation of body and mind. 

With a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of California Berkeley, he integrates fictional writing and poetry into non-fictional narratives, combining the stillness of photography with the movement of words to invite the viewer to linger on the meanings of each image. 

Hue | Digital Photography

Imagine a place you are familiar with, one that exists in the real world, one that engages you personally. If it could speak what would it say and what would it sound like? Would it tell you of its hidden narratives, communities and experiences, or its problematic, rich and conflicting history? Would it tell you of its aches and pains or of its triumphs and glories?

As a multimedia artist Sharpe uses fictional storytelling to re-discover urban areas. He uses photography to make the ‘voice’ of an area materialise as a visual focus, whilst using poetry to reflect on his past experiences and evoke emotion that resonates with the viewer. 

Relating to an area you do not live in or come from can be challenging and you often feel like an outsider or visitor. It is when we connect our own emotions to a place that we can start to understand and relate with it, rather than view it from the outside as a passive observer. 

Sharpe immerses himself in urban areas of intrigue, educating himself about its past, present and future. He talks to members of their communities, experts, and visitors alike to understand its dynamic and role within a wider location. He reminisces on his own experiences both before and after he has discovered a place to reflect on how he can connect himself to an area.  

Being an outsider to a place or perspective does not mean you cannot understand or relate to it. 

BONE | Short Film
Bone | Digital Photography
Plates | Digital Photography
Open Wound | Digital Photography
Presence | Digital Photography
Life Emerging | Digital Photography
Staining My Body | Digital Photography
Veins | Digital Photography
Call for Medicine | Digital photography
Illumination | Digital Photography
Burning Lights | Digital Photography
Flickering Sickness | Digital Photography
Growing Dark | Digital Photography
Muffled Groans | Digital Photography
Faith | Digital Photography
Enter | Digital Photography
The Way is Shut | Digital Photography

BONE | Summary

In his short film ‘Bone’ Sharpe uses poetry and photography to illustrate how his experience of trauma has affected his perception of space. He reflects on a life threatening injury during his childhood where his skull was fractured and reconstructed to portray how it distorted the perception of his surroundings. 

Using The Barbican Centre as the location of his narrative, Sharpe transforms the area by connecting its characteristics to the traumatic event he experienced. He compares his bone to the concrete buildings, his blood to the water that stains them, and the lights to those which filled every hall, surgery and infirmary room in hospital. 

Colour is central to his narrative. He focuses on the similar tan flush of bone and concrete and the greenish hue that surrounds the area in its foliage, water, signage and lighting. Green connects the area to his time in hospital where everything seemed to have a tint of green. There were green wires attached to monitors which displayed vitals with green imaging, the green cross of medicine was everywhere.

Trauma is very personal to those who experience it and so relating it to a place that is impersonal is what allows us to connect to and resonate with it. 

CRT Display
CRT DisplayTo immerse the audience in this narrative Sharpe uses an older display model. It emits each image with the same effect of a vitals monitor in hospital. This is the most authentic format to watch the short film.


Short Film & Photography
Millennium Mills | Digital Photography
Millennium Mills Face | Digital Photography
Folktale | Digital Photography


It was a warm sunny afternoon. Just the kind of afternoon that Stan liked to take his dog for a walk.

Stan turned around to find a strange creature iniking at him.

“Follow.” He said. “Allow me.”

Along the walk Stan found a soda can with something in it, “I wonder what it could say? It's unfair. I should ask a gatherer.”

The gatherer was busy sorting out his lootles, “Excuse me Mr Gatherer.” Stan coughed, “But would you be able to tell me what this says?”

“Follow me.” The creature said, “Allow me.” it said.

So Stan followed into the murky depths of the river.

Cable Carts | Digital Photography
Construction | Digital Photography
Shipping | Digital Photography
Shipping | Digital Photography
Vacant | Digital Photography
Hidden Walkway | Digital Photography
Cranes | Digital Photography

Creature | Summary

Etched into a cobbled wall under a hidden walkway at the Royal Victoria Docks there is a folktale about a boy walking along the Thames. He encounters a creature who lures him into the river to his certain demise. Who is this boy Stan, The Gatherer, The Creature? What happened to Stan’s dog? What was inside the can? What was it trying to say? 

Sharpe investigates a tale with no lore, no backstory, and no explanation. It is entirely hidden from view and has become something to stumble across and discover rather a preserved site with a written history. The language used is from a different era, vocabulary which no longer exists in modern dialect. Words like ‘shan’ and ‘lootles’ have lost meaning in today’s English tongue, yet what we can learn from this story is still entirely relevant. Do not be lured into deep water. 

How many similar fragments of the Industrial era, still exist in our Post Industrial landscape? How are they still relevant in the modern day and what can they teach us? Old cranes which have been preserved as works of art exist alongside modern cranes used for construction and docks that existed a hundred years ago still house boats which traders use daily.

In this photography series Sharpe questions why the purpose and appearance of certain urban aspects change whilst others remain the same. He opens a dialogue about why some things have long since lost their original purpose and contrasts them with those which seem untouched by time.