Straw Camera


The Straw Camera is an innovative analogue camera made by collaborators Mick Farrell and Cliff Haynes. The camera is a box filled with 32,000 drinking straws (or layers of corrugated plastic in another version).

Cliff Haynes has written about the process.

Michael Farrell

Michael Farrell was born in Paisley in 1964. He studied Fine Art at Birmingham City University completing his BA in 1986 and MA in 1995. He worked in education for many years before becoming Photography Technician at the Slade from 2003 until his death in 2015.

His career as an artist started with an exhibition of stone carving at the Ikon Gallery, Birmingham in 1986. He went on to exhibit throughout the Midlands, London and Scotland and undertook a number of public and community art projects including residencies in Frankfurt and Portland Bill. He has public artworks sited in Shefield, Leicester, Coventry and Swindon.

Mick’s practice negotiated the relationship between photography and sculpture and over a number of years he developed an experimental approach to process and object. Often sewing photographs together to create large sculptural structures to be placed on the floor or built wooden structures within which to suspend the photograph. His explorations eventually led him to developing pinhole camera techniques and from 2008 he worked closely with colleague Cliff Haynes to construct the Straw Camera, the result of this process gives a unique physical presence to the photograph which echoes many of the structural ideas and forms of his past work.

The Michael Farrell Memorial Prize has been set up at the Slade School of Fine Art as a living memorial to celebrate his contribution to the community of the art school, his generosity, appetite for new practice and innovations within photography.


Cliff Haynes

Cliff Haynes was born in Derby in 1949. After studying Sculpture and Fine Art Practice in the Midlands he undertook a Higher Diploma in Fine Art at the Slade School of Fine Art where he became a Technician in Photography holding this post until early retirement in 2007. Much of the Photography department was set-up by Cliff, and he secured an incredible range of photography resources including cameras, darkroom equipment and even an RA4 processor from the security service, MI5.

Cliff continues to keep links with the Slade after retirement (especially on Tuesday evenings at the Housman Room) and was a generous friend and Straw Camera collaborator with Mick Farrell.

Sarah Pickering

Sarah Pickering completed an MA in Photography at the Royal College of Art in 2005 and has been an educator since 1996. Her practice encompasses a range of disciplines but is rooted in the photographic. Sarah has exhibited extensively in the UK and internationally, most recently as part of Manifesta 11, Zurich 2016 curated by Christian Jankowski. Solo exhibitions include Incident Control at the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago 2010 and Celestial Objects at Durham Art Gallery, 2013. Her monograph, Explosions, Fires and Public Order is published by Aperture.

Sarah has held the post of Teaching Fellow in Photography at the Slade School of Fine Art, University College London since 2008 where she worked alongside Mick Farrell who was a wonderful colleague, an inspiring and dedicated teacher and a good friend.

Liz Rideal

Liz Rideal, Reader in Fine Art at the Slade School of Fine Art, began working in the Painting Department in 1992. Since 1985 she has had 44 solo exhibitions in both public and private art galleries across Europe and America, including two retrospectives, 5 catalogue publications, 20 public commissions. Her artwork is held in public collections including Tate; Victoria & Albert Museum; British Museum; The National Portrait Gallery; The Vancouver Art Gallery, Canada; Museet for Fotokunst, Denmark; Portland Art Museum, Oregon; The George Eastman Museum & the Yale Centre for British Art, USA.

Rideal received a Leverhulme Fellowship in 2016-17, a British Academy grant to work in India in 2011, and the Rome Wingate Schol- arship at the British School at Rome, in 2008/9. She is author of Mirror/ Mirror: Self-portraits by Women Artists, National Portrait Gallery, London, and Watson-Guptill, NY, 2001; Insights: Self-portraits, NPG, London, 2005; and How to Read Painting, Bloomsbury, London, and Rizzoli, NY, 2014, and 2015. She is co-author of Madam and Eve: Images of women by women 1968-2018, Laurence King, 2018.