Inside this issue
Verity is a professional photographer based in Birmingham where she lives with her wife, Rachel, and their Spaniel/Saluki cross, Talisker. Verity is an ambassador for Zeiss, writes a monthly column for Practical Photography magazine and regularly creates imagery for organisations such as Visit Britain, American Express and Yorkshire Tea. Verity is happiest when outdoors in the landscape, especially during the early morning. Unsurprisingly, Verity is also a big fan of naps.
In 2012 I paused by my local river and everything changed. I’ve moved away from what many expect photographs to be: my images deconstruct the literal and reimagine the subjective, reflecting the curiosity that water has inspired in my practice. Water has been my conduit: it has sharpened my vision, given me permission to experiment and continues to introduce me to new ways of seeing.
We spend a lot of time plotting our escape from cities and towns, without necessarily recognising the role that they play in shaping us. It’s easier to say what we don’t like about them, rather than what we do, and to overlook what they can offer. Seeing the images that Verity Milligan shares online, her love of the rural and the remote is clear, but look a little deeper and it’s also apparent that the city that she calls home – Birmingham, UK - is very important to her too. Cars can give us freedom, but also often mean that we ignore what is on our doorstep; an inability to drive (at the time) led Verity to seek out Birmingham’s open spaces and green corridors and fostered an affection for the city as a whole that remains today. Add to that the mutual support offered by the city’s creative community and it’s easy to see how Birmingham and its people have helped to foster her career as a photographer.
Would you like to start by telling readers a little about yourself – where you grew up, your education and early interests, and what that led you to do as a career?
Hi. Well, I grew up in Corby in Northamptonshire under the shadow of the steelworks and their inevitable demise. It was a very industrial setting, a new town made of concrete and the sweat of Scottish immigrants of whom I’m a proud descendant. The town itself wasn’t much to write home about, but it backed onto rural Northamptonshire and I was given free rein as a child to explore. In that respect, although it was very humble, I had an idyllic childhood. My father, who was a steelworker, had a keen interest in nature and we would go birdwatching regularly. He also taught me how to watercolour, and I spent much of my youth drawing and painting the birds and landscapes I’d witnessed. Unfortunately, being quite a literal artist, I lost a lot of confidence during A-level art which encouraged me to be more abstract in my approach. I floundered amongst painters who were far more dynamic and ended up with the only ‘D’ I’ve ever got in my entire life. The experience broke my heart and all my dreams of becoming an illustrator or painter fell away. However, I was the first in my family to attend University and I’m still grateful to this day to my parents for breaking the wheel and facilitating my education despite having very little. I took a very academic route with a plan to become a lecturer (which I did), but I was always undertaking some creative endeavour, whether that was writing or drawing.