Samuel Fordham Recalls His Experience at PhMuseum Days 2021 Festival

The photographer presented a multimedia project that deals with family separation caused by immigration policies in the UK. Having a solo exhibition allowed him to bring to life some display ideas that he had never had the opportunity to realize before. 

The PhMuseum Days 2022 Open Call is now accepting submissions to exhibit at the coming edition of our International Photo Festivalunder the theme Today is Yesterday’s Tomorrow. To give you a grasp of what it can mean, we went talking with photographer Samuel Fordham who participated in the 2021 Open Call with the project C-R92/BY and was selected for one of the three individual shows.

Samuel's work deals with the way people cope when being torn apart from their relatives by the strong immigration policies in the UK. In his words, he explores how “imagery has become a replacement for the bodies of loved ones”, having experienced this firsthand as during the making of the project his wife faced deportation. “The work plays with antithesis as I became very interested in the border between one thing and the next - materiality and immateriality, the physical and the digital, or the border of one country to the next. On an emotional level my family has been affected by the making of the work but in a positive way. I'm not sure I would have found the community fighting this battle if it had not been for engaging in it photographically. So, in that way, the work gave us hope. After some time of working through this archive and trying to find a way of making the work understandable on a visual level, I decided that the images would come from my personal experience and the texts from others.” 

Samuel felt that this complex research had to find its way to a physical form. That's way “some pieces have never been shown. Some others have been shown quite extensively in group shows, but it wasn't until PhMuseum Days that I was able to work with a curator on bringing some of the ideas I mentioned to life”. Stressing on the difficulty of having the opportunity for an emerging artist to have their first solo show, Samuel expresses how special showing his work at PhMuseum Days first festival was. “For me, showing the work is an opportunity to engage people in conversation, and the set-up of the festival meant there was a lot of space to have those conversations with lots of people. I was genuinely amazed at how well the curatorial team had understood the work on a thematic, spatial, and material level. I had the opportunity to propose relevant hangings/installations that I had wanted to do for a long time which, amazingly, the team was able to bring to life. I think it is important to have these conversations when you are showing work, but it is not always possible. Fortunately, the team understands this well!”.

During the festival days, Samuel had the opportunity to live the atmosphere of the inaugural edition: “I can say that it definitely feels like something great is happening in Bologna and with PhMuseum. This was the first edition, but there was a real energy among those who attended and excitement for what is to come in the following years, I think for any festival this is key.  Being able to see and talk to Giuseppe (Founder and Director of PhMuseum) and Rocco (Curator of PhMuseum) as you bump into them at the festival is a small but important factor. They were on the journey with us, which really matters”. For Samuel having a strong idea is an important part of the work but what really counts is how the work is read by an audience. For this reason, his advice for future applicants is to find the universality of their projects, “even if it is highly personal and subjective. The audience has to be in there, so what is it that they can connect with? If you think your work is ready then you have to apply. Not applying means you are taking the decision away from the jury. Good luck all and see you at the next one!”. 


All photos are installation shots from PhMuseum Days Festival 2021 © PhMuseum


Samuel Fordham (Bristol, 1987) is a multidisciplinary artist working with photography, text, video, and sound. A graduate of the MA Photography program at UWE Bristol, Samuel has developed a research-based practice focused on telling intimate and often hidden stories highlighting issues surrounding childhood, family welfare, and equality.

PhMuseum Days International Photo Festival is an event taking place in Bologna, Italy that brings together photographers and photography lovers across nationalities and styles. Last year's inaugural edition opened under the theme A New Beginning attended by more than 4000 visitors. The new edition will open on 23 September 2022 under the them Today is Yesterday's Tomorrow, meant as an occasion to reflect on the strong moment of change we are living. The Submissions' Deadline for 12 May 2022. Learn more and apply at

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