Nicky Thompson

Wild Swimmers

Some of these images were taken in the summer of 2019 as artist in residence at the Dartmoor Summer School of Photography in Devon.  On the second day, a group of the participants got up early to take a swim in the icy cold waters of the River Dart, so I followed them down with my 8”x10” plate camera and portable darkroom. The wet collodion (ambrotype) process has a timeless and other-worldly quality, it seems at first that this could have been taken during the Victorian era, yet on second glance the modern bathing costumes bring you to the present day. The women appear distant yet relaxed, returning the gaze as if interrupted during an intimate moment. I have begun to realise the importance of swimming in the rivers, being in nature and the link with physical and mental health. This picture was selected for the Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize 2020.

A Portrait of Moretonhampstead  

A strikingly innovative photographic archive of the community of Moretonhampstead, an old market town in Devon, using the wet plate collodion (ambrotype) process. These portraits are of individuals who live or work in the Moretonhampstead area, focusing on the old families, farmers, shop owners and individuals, thus memorialising the community with over one hundred wet plate collodion portraits, a ‘snapshot’ of this rural community in 2015. See more images on my website.

Nicky Thompson 15

About Nicky Thompson

Nicky Thompson is an artist / educator with an MA in photography and she lives and works in Moretonhampstead, Devon. The main themes in her work are community, growth and nature. She specialises in alternative photography techniques and her main practice is Wet Plate Collodion (Ambrotypes), a Victorian process using a traditional large format camera.

She has undertaken residencies at Dartmoor Summer School – photographing wild swimmers using Wet Plate; Greenhill Arts – Photographing 166 portraits of people living or working in the community, again on Wet Collodion and Thelma Hulbert Gallery – burying negatives of the gallery in the grounds. Her photographs have also been shown in solo and group exhibitions around the uk.

Her work was selected for the Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize 2021 at the National Portrait Gallery, London. The wild swimming project is ongoing, exploring the themes of improving mental and physical health through wild water swimming. 

See more of Nicky’s work here:

Subscribe to our newsletter

Get email updates about upcoming events and gallery launches.

Celebrating the creation of Dartmoor National Park 1951 2021

The Studio presents the work of three photographers whose practice is centred on Dartmoor.

The online exhibition celebrates the spirit of freedom to roam, the experience of beauty in Nature, the heritage attached to particular sites, notions of health and wellbeing, and our inextricable link to the land.

A series of livestream events, in conversation with the photographers / artists, discussing their practice and the wider context will be available for free.

Book your free tickets now!


Bodmin Moor, Goon Brenn in Cornish, is a granite moorland in Cornwall, England, with one of the most complete and best preserved upland prehistoric landscapes in Britain. Occupying a surface of 80 sq mi, this profoundly evocative landscape includes Cornwall’s highest tors, Brown Willy and Roughtor. Many of Cornwall's rivers have their source here.

Since 4000 BC, the first farming communities assert their presence by marking the landscape with monumental stone structures.

This photographic body of work explores the Sacred & Ceremonial Landscape, shaped by our Ancestors on Bodmin Moor.

An independent, self-directed project begun in 2018, culminates with this online exhibition.

An exciting and eclectic programme of live online conversations with key figures, on the wider context of Bodmin Moor, Photography, Digital Art & NFT's will run throughout August 2021.

Harry Fricker MA (Image & Communication, Goldsmiths, UOL)