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Photography (MA)

Isabelle Young

Until the lagoon comes to Venice, 2018C-type print 26 x 17 cm Edition of 7 + 2 APs
Until the lagoon comes to Venice, 2018C-type print 26 x 17 cm Edition of 7 + 2 APs
The lagoon city, 2022C-type print 45 x 60 cm Edition of 5 + 1 AP
Salt soaked, 2022C-type print 60 x 45 cm Edition of 5 + 1 AP
Until it holds, 2021C-type print 60 x 45 cm Edition of 5 + 1 AP
Until it holds, 2021C-type print 60 x 45 cm Edition of 5 + 1 AP
Paratie, Chiesa di San Francesco, Chioggia, 2021C-type print 60 x 45 cm Edition of 5 + 1 AP
Out of the sea, 2021C-type print 60 x 45 cm Edition of 5 + 1 AP

The Sea Rising, 2017-2022

The Sea Rising explores the ongoing endeavour to shape, control and preserve the Venetian Lagoon, Italy. I spent the Autumn term of the MA living, working and studying online in Venice to create this series which I am exhibiting for the first time at the RCA2022 Degree Show Exhibition.

The entire lagoon’s existence has always been precarious but the water is now higher than it has even been. It therefore takes a lot less for ‘exceptionally high’ tides to occur and for the islands to flood. Although this series began with the historic murazzi walls which extend from Sottomarina along the entire lagoon coast, The Sea Rising is not about a fading past. With the €5.4 billion Project MOSE finally near completion, Venice can be seen as a microcosm of how many cities will need to approach flooding in the not so distant future.

The landscape surrounding the lagoon city notably lies between earth and sea, where sky and water meet. There is no stone, brick or marble that did not arrive by water. Beneath each calle and campo lie miles of Istrian stone - a material formed by the sea itself. Photographing the murazzi on a wet, cold, winter night returned the Istrian stones to the Adriatic beyond. The wet rain gave the rocks a shimmering quality and they became momentarily transient and unstable, despite their evidently weighty bulk. At some point these walls were sufficient protection from the rising Adriatic, then they were not as the water continued to rise, and so the story continues with no end in sight. Project MOSE is already out of date as climate change has accelerated since it was first designed over 20 years ago and no Venetians are comforted by its presence. An overriding feeling prevails of a battle being fought against something which we will ultimately always lose.

The exhibition works are accompanied by a printed, autobiographical text Until it holds, 2021 published on occasion of RCA2022 and available to view via the link below.

Venice Interior, 2021

Arriving in Venice and crossing the water to the city on a humid September night was the first time I had left England in nearly 2 years. After talking to friends here and seeing the city through their screens and my own archive for so long, it took a while for my eyes to adjust to actually see Venice again for myself. My main project here is research-based and centres on the 18th century sea walls which once protected the laguna from flooding when the water rose, and a series about the threat of water in the laguna. I spent my days leaving the historic city for remote islands but paused to take these photographs in a domestic space. The starkness made the bed monumental, the duvet like an altarpiece and the glow of the laptop illuminated the space after the sun had set across the water.


C-Type Print


45 x 60 cm

Sight and the novel are central to my work. As a photographer, I see the way I do because of the poet Philip Larkin’s observation that ‘sun destroys / The interest of what’s happening in the shade’. My perspective is informed by certain literary narratives which actively play with time and point of view, and in turn shape the stories I tell and the photographs I take.

My work focuses on details which say much more than wide shots. The framing and compositions do not speak of the whole but bow down before quieter moments. I often think of my work alongside the unreliable literary narrator who is also God within the world she has created. My photographs, akin to the narrator, may appear to be all knowing but they are evidently not all telling.

My first solo exhibition “In Camera” is currently on view at Fabian Lang Gallery, Zurich, until 30 July 2022.

Show Location: Battersea campus: Dyson & Woo Buildings, First floor

Born London, UK

Lives and works between London, UK and Venice, Italy


2022 MA Photography, Royal College of Art, London

2010 BA English Literature, University of Sussex

Recent exhibitions and projects include 'Isabelle Young: A Sense of an Ending', Neutro - Sophie Westerlind, Italy (Published by Neutro), 2022; Palazzo Monti: Transatlantico, Mana Contemporary, Jersey City, USA, 2020; Commission for Van Gogh House, London, UK, 2020; Idle Thoughts: An Isolation Exhibition, Soho Revue, London, UK, 2020; Palazzo Monti Artist Residency, Brescia, Italy, 2019; Involving Ourselves, Galerie Norbert Arns, Cologne, Germany, 2019. 

Collections include Katrin Bellinger Collection, London, UK; Simmons and Simmons, London, UK; Palazzo Monti, Brescia, Italy; Museo Casa Mollino, Turin, Italy.