Selected Exhibitions


Format Festival – Metamorphosis
Royal Photographic Society – Metamorphosis
Metamorphosis has been selected for the Earth Photo Awards 2023, opening at The Royal Geographical Society in London before touring national forests over the coming year


Support Systems, Photography and the Book – PhotoOxford Biennale
Masked – Zuleika Gallery, Oxfordshire


Custodians for Covid, Messum’s Gallery, Cork Street, London

From the Book to The Book, OffShoot Gallery,
Conditions of Knowledge , North Wall, Oxford

Custodians, Palazzo Mora, Venice Biennale
Custodians, Athens Photo Festival
The Full Picture, Oxford in Portraits, Bodleian Library, Oxford
Spaces of Sanctuary, Hull International Photography Festival
Spaces of Sanctuary, Glastonbury Festival

Custodians, shared exhibition Sarah Wiseman Gallery,
Custodians, The Ashmolean, Oxford

School Portrait, Future Past – West Wharf Gallery, Cardiff
Custodians, Renaissance Prize, Getty Images, Group show

Custodians, Group Resolution 2014 Show, Powerhouse Arena, Brooklyn, New York
Photo Oxford Biennale 2014, UK

Siblings – Art Oxford, UK
Dreams For My Daughter , Glastonbury Festival, UK

Selected Portraits, Arles Photography Open Salon, France
Dreams For My Daughter, Southbank Centre, London, UK
Dreams For My Daughter, White House Correspondants event, Beall-Washington House,
Dreams For My Daughter, DFID, Whitehall, London, UK

Awards and Honours


Winner of TPA/RPS Environmental Bursary
Custodians from Covid published by Hoxton Mini Press in London in Lockdown
A Shift in Material Presence, shortlisted RA Summer Exhibition

Renaissance Award – Finalist 2015
Athens Photography Festival – Finalist 2015 Prix Virginia – Jurys Choice finalist 2014 IPA Awards Finalist 2014
Finalist Resolution Awards, NT – 2015 Collections
National Portrait Gallery, London


Uncertain States, 2019
Custodians, with texts by Russell Roberts and Xa Sturgis. Published by the Ashmolean Press 2015 Faces of Exploration, with texts by Justin Marozzi and Dame Ellen MacArthur. Published by Andre Deutsch

In Conversation

BBC Arts live with Will Gompertz
Exposed Live Friday at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford The BBC Breakfast Show with Gaby Roslin – BBC


The White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood, PhotoOxford, At The Bus
Founder member of the Frontline Club London and member of Conduit Connect.

Associate Lecturer, MA Photography, University of Plymouth
Co/founder of Beyond The Negative

Grayson Perry, Philip Pullman, Andrew Scott, Dawn French, Juliet Stevenson and Jenny Saville are some of the esteemed creatives who donned a face mask to be photographed in aid of the Oxfordshire-based children’s art therapy charity At The Bus. Each sitter was captured in their own space by photographer Joanna Vestey.

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Joanna Vestey
Joanna Vestey
Paul Hobson In Conversation With Joanna Vestey Conditions Of Knowledge, The North Wall, Oxford, 27/09/2018


The more time I spent in libraries and lecture theatres the more and more I was interested in the heritage and conservation and the stewardship of them, and then I started going into the newer buildings, newer lecture spaces in Oxford. I was really struck by a detachment, there weren’t the same traces that there used to be at some of the old buildings, just these great big modern buildings. Somehow I began to have an idea of rootlessness and places without the same clues beginning to creep into them. So, I became interested in thinking about articles or objects that spoke about physical objects. In this case, the book, to begin to think about things that are shifting and how knowledge is now accessed online and digitisation of it. So, I was sitting in the Bodleian one day, thinking and writing, and I just saw this stack of these objects, they were unassembled at the time in the window, and then as I looked around there were more and more of these were assembled on desks.

Read full conversation here

Joanna Vestey

The Daily Telegraph review of Custodians

Joanna Vestey
A Shift in Material Presence Essay by Duncan Wooldridge


In direct contact with a photographic negative, we shift our perspectives continuously. Holding this delicate object, we rotate around the room, trying to touch it as little as possible, our fingers at its edges, bending it with a discrete pressure somewhere between holding and squeezing. We move with the object, hoping that an image will appear, drawing out something hidden on this dark and smooth object. We move it up and down, and turn left and then right, until we direct it towards a source of light, placing the negative between ourselves and the light’s source. Until then, the negative is strangely opaque, playfully resistant and reflective. Light bounces off its surface, and the promise of an image toys with our desire. It seems to catch as much of a reflection as it gives away its contents…….. 

Read full essay here

Joanna Vestey
Joanna Vestey
Photography and Conceptual Taxonomies


In The Photographing of Spaces of Learning, from Talbot to Höfer I positioned photography as an organising device through the work of Talbot, described by Russell Roberts as being an extension of the ‘museological dimension’ (Roberts, 1999). Here I move on to present the continuing desire to bring order and thereby meaning into the expanding flux of contemporary visual culture. At the core of my approach is the question of what the work depends on for meaning……

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Russel Roberts,Oxford: the dark interior


The colleges of Oxford are repeatedly photographed as a backdrop to the swathes of tourists that visit each year. A simple walk down Broad Street for example, can become a complicated dance as you duck and weave your way to avoid disturbing the countless scenarios where people stand momentarily to be pictured in relation to one of the oldest academic institutions in Europe….

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The Ready at Hand and the Book To Come: Joanna Vestey’s Support Systems. Duncan Wooldridge


In his infamous analysis of tools, Martin Heidegger drew a distinction between the states of an object being ‘ready at hand’ and ‘present to hand’. His observation, that the ‘ready at hand’ object is one we use without a consciousness of its properties – we only notice a hammer when it fails in its duty – acutely mirrors both the photograph and the book. The technologies and supports of both image and text are things we ignore in the task of gathering information, looking at an image or reading. We might update Heidegger’s observation, however: the ‘ready at hand’ tool also emerges to us when it has been superceded by a new technology with a similar purpose. In the compulsion to see the new as superior, the properties of the old are also revealed…..

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The photographing of spaces of learning, from Talbot to Höfer Part 2: Beyond Oxford: The Museum and the Library


Both of the series of works that I discuss here, Ross’s Museology (1987) and Höfer’s Libraries (2005), were published in book format. Ross’s Museology (1987) series published as a monograph by Aperture in 1989, is made up of 45 colour, medium-format images, created over 12 years. In contrast, Höfer’s Libraries (2005), published as a book by Thames and Hudson is more encyclopaedic in its extent, containing 137 large format colour images. Where the space of the library is the focus of Höfer’s image making, within Ross’s Museology (1987) the natural history museum lies as his point of focus. Natural history museums throughout the world, from the Museum Nationale d’Histroire Naturelle in Paris and the New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art to the British Museum in London are explored…..

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The Photographing of Spaces of Learning, from Talbot to Höfer Oxford: photographic practices and the university


Oxford, is home to the oldest university in the English-speaking world and has long been a place of interest to image-makers. The picturesque views and architectural gems of the city and its college have provided many commercial and artistic opportunities alike. Historical precedents to photographic images of the city can be found in John Bereblock’s (1566-unknown) illustrations in Divinity School and Duke of Humfrey’s Library or David Logann, (1635-1692) engraver to the university, in his Arts End and Selden End works, made at the Bodleian Library……..

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Without Place and Free From Its Origins


Over twenty years ago in his essay; “Phantasm, Digital Imaging and the Death of Photography” (1994), writer and critic Geoffrey Batchen (1956) stated that: Photography may indeed be on the verge of losing its privileged place within modern culture.This does not mean that photographic images will no longer be made, but it does signal the possibility of a dramatic transformation of their meaning and value, and therefore of the medium’s ongoing significance. However, it should be clear that any such shift in significancewill be an epistemological affair rather than a simple consequence of the advent of digital imaging…..

Read full essay here