British Asian photographer Suki Dhanda, whose portraits of subjects for The Observer and The Guardian include Blue Planet presenter Sir David Attenborough, former Prime Minister Tony Blair, singer and actress Rihanna, and artist Yoko Ono was awarded an Honorary Fellowship by Arts University Plymouth (then Plymouth College of Art) in 2018. Suki is an alumna of Arts University Plymouth, and graduated with an HND in the late 1980s, coming to the college from Slough. During her Honorary Fellowship acceptance speech, she recalled her time studying at the university and how collaborating with other creatives from different backgrounds influenced her practice.
Suki Dhanda successfully combines a career as a newspaper photographer with gallery and installation commissions showing work alongside the likes of Rankin and Turner prize winner Gillian Wearing. After leaving Arts University Plymouth, she spent the next three years as an advertising photographer's assistant and in the process assembled a portfolio by doing free shoots, notably for the music magazine Straight No Chaser. Her big break came when The Observer commissioned her to take photographs of mothers and daughters. It brought her a freelance contract that has sustained her wider practice ever since, in which she has captured portraits of some of the world's most famous faces.
In 2018, Suki returned to Plymouth, where she began her photography journey, with a new exhibition commissioned by Arts University’s onsite art gallery MIRROR, titled ‘Race, Place & Diversity By The Seaside’. In shooting new portraits for this show, Dhanda spent six months visiting Plymouth, capturing local residents and visitors spending time relaxing with their friends and families by the coast, in a project that highlighted the possibilities of co-existing in a shared space. Provoked by Dhanda’s personal reaction to the 2016 Brexit vote, the work profiled a series of people who may have begun to question their sense of belonging and their place in the UK since the vote was cast.
Suki Dhanda was awarded an Honorary Fellowship from Arts University Plymouth in 2018 in recognition of her outstanding achievement in the arts.