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Meet Mead Fellowship winner, Zula Rabikowska

Photograph of a lady holding a lamp
  • Written byCareers and Employability
  • Published date 25 November 2022
Photograph of a lady holding a lamp
Photograph of a lady holding a lamp

Zula Rabikowska is a London-based photographer and lecturer at Kingston University who was awarded £9,990 for their project Nothing but a Curtain in 2020. After graduating from MA Photojournalism and Documentary Photography, London College of Communication in 2020, Zula travelled along the former Iron Curtain, the former political barrier (erected in 1946) which divided the Soviet Union from the West, during the Cold War.

Nothing but a Curtain is a photography documentary research project about contemporary female identity in Eastern Europe.  Their research documented how a communist past has shaped female identity. The project combines analogue photography, moving images, and written testimonies to engage with the question: What is contemporary womanhood in post-communist countries?

We caught up with Zula to see how the Mead Fellowship supported this project.

How did winning the Mead Fellowship help you?

The Mead Fellowship was my first substantial grant, which helped me in a number of ways. First of all, it enabled me to realise a project, which I had been planning for a long time. Without the financial support from the Mead Fellowship, I would not have been able to realise this work. Secondly, securing this funding enabled me to receive funding from other bodies and organisations. Finally, winning the fellowship was a huge boost, not just financially, but also emotionally. I am also very grateful for the Mead Fellowship team who helped to connect me with other individuals and were a tremendous help when I was organising my solo show to exhibit the work.

Would you advise others to apply for a Mead award? If so, why?

Absolutely, I would encourage all students about to graduate, or those who have graduated already to apply for this award. Even if you are not successful, the application process will help you organise your ideas, and prepare you for applying for other funding. If you are successful, you will have an amazing opportunity to work on a project.

What have you been up to since completing your Mead project?

Initially, I went fully freelance and was working as a photographer and videographer in London. I concentrated my efforts on exhibiting the project, entering it into awards, and publishing it. In less than a year after completion, I was able to have a solo show in the Well Gallery in London College of Communication, presented as a pop-up show at the Photography Foundation, and most recently exhibited at Brighton Photography Fringe where my exhibition was awarded the Danny Wilson Award after the festival.

The project has also been published by the British Journal of Photography and New Eastern Europe.

I now work as a part-time photography lecturer at Kingston University, and use the rest of the time to develop my art practice and take on commercial assignments.

You can find out more about Zula's work on their Instagram and website.

Mead Fellowships are run by Careers and Employability at UAL, final year students and recent graduates can apply for a grant of up to £10,000 to fund a creative project after graduating.

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