Zula Rabikowska


I am a queer migrant visual artist and academic based in London. I was born in Poland, grew up in the UK and my documentary practice is influenced by my own experience of migration. In my work and research, I explore themes of displacement, gender identity and LGBTQI+ communities. I have always been interested in storytelling and I obtained a BA in English Literature in French and an MRes in Postcolonial French literature from the University of Warwick. I also hold an MA in Photojournalism and Documentary Photography from London College of Communication.

I work with multimedia, film and digital and analogue photography, and incorporate archival images and documents to challenge conventional visual story-telling norms. My work has been exhibited and published internationally. I won the AOP Talent Award and the PDN Award, and am a recipient of the MEAD Fellowship and Getty Images Grant which have enabled me to document contemporary gender identity in Eastern Europe.   

My work was selected by the OPEN20 Moving Image, shown at Winchester Gallery and Enjoy Museum of Art Beijing in China. I have been nominated for Budapest International Foto Awards, Moscow International Foto Award, Prix Levallois, BarTur Photo Award Leica Magazine Photojournalist of the Year.

My work has been featured by numerous publications such as the BBC, The Guardian, The Calvert Journal, The Culture Trip, Reckless Magazine, South West Collective, Photograd, She's Got Wonder, Saigoneer, Café Babel, Stories from Poland, The First News, Coolura24, and Londynek.net.

I co-founded the Red Zenith Collective, a platform for womxn and non-binary creatives from Central and Eastern Europe.

Academic responsibilities

Photography Lecturer


  • MA: Documentary Photography and Photojournalism, University of the Arts London
  • MRes: French Postcolonial Literature, Warwick University
  • BA: English and French, Warwick University

Teaching and learning

I currently teach on the photography and moving image specialisation on the Graphic Design BA. PreviouslyI have organised and ran online teaching workshops, sessions, and symposia for an international audience whilst at the Red Zenith Collective. I developed and delivered sessions for artists to help them improve their practical skills and employment accessibility. I created and conducted a syllabus of following courses: CV writing, grant writing, research and development of documentary projects and finding clients as a freelancer. I also delivered sessions about digital and analogue photography, and video. As a result, I know how to make my teaching accessible and adapt my teaching to different learning styles and learning difficulties.

I have mentored undergraduate, postgraduate and sixth form students about their photography practice and helped them develop their ideas into projects. This helped me to learn to work with students to develop their professional aspirations on an individual level.

I have also delivered a variety of sessions as a guest lecturer at different academic institutions and creative organisations in the UK, Poland and France. My sessions focused on my documentary practice and project development and have been well received by students and tutors alike.

Innovation is one of my passions, and I make sure to stay up to date with emerging visual trends, which I incorporate into my own practice as a visual artist, but also as a mentor and tutor.  In my multimedia project, "Citizens of Nowhere" I combined 35mm analogue photography and stop-motion animation to explore my identity as a Polish immigrant living in London. To incorporate the physicality of living in the UK, I developed my film using salt water from the English Channel.

I have experience teaching face to face, as well as using online technology like Zoom or Microsoft Teams. In addition, I have previously worked as an English Language Teacher in China, India, South Africa and Martinique. In these roles I worked with colleagues and heads of departments to creatively respond to curriculum requirements and develop different courses. In Martinique, I worked with the Head of English to review and change the English syllabus to make it more inclusive of people with disabilities, people of colour and LGBTQI+ identities. This proved to be very successful, and these changes were introduced in all other local schools in Martinique.

Whilst at OLIO, I was responsible for designing and delivering teacher training across the UK, which helped primary school educators engage with online technology to improve literacy in schools. First, I identified skill gaps and designed interactive sessions which combined visual and participatory learning. Second, I designed regular follow up sessions to measure the effectiveness of training. Overall, I delivered over 50 workshops and worked with over 1,000 teachers and support staff. As a result, I have a lot of teaching experience and know how to create and deliver different courses for maximum impact and engagement.

I am used to working with an academic syllabus and preparing and delivering teaching material accordingly. 

Undergraduate courses taught


I am interested in pushing the boundaries of visual storytelling and I combine digital and analogue photography techniques with written testimonies, drawings, archival documents or textiles. I have created several multimedia projects and short films, which have a socio-political approach. My practice is underpinned by own my experience of migration and, I often explore topics related to immigration, borders and belonging. My projects have won the AOP Emerging Talent and PDN Edu Award, where my work was praised by the judges for visual innovation. My work was also selected for the Budapest International Foto Awards, Moscow International Foto Award, Prix Levallois, BarTur Photo Award Leica Magazine Photojournalist of the Year.

I also explore themes related to gender identity and LGBTQI+ communities as well as challenging stereotypes associated with Eastern Europe. Through my work, I seek to expose abuses based on sexual orientation and gender identity, advance representation, and create a lasting impact. Due to my interst in working in a multidisciplinary manner, I am interested in alternative photographic processes such as anthoypes, cyanotypes, wet-collodion, polaroid transfers and self-developing analogue film. 

In 2020 I was awarded MEAD Fellowship, a grant from Getty Images and Kuala Lumpur Awards for my most recent project, which explores gender in post-communist countries. I spent 100 days travelling across Eastern Europe documenting how communism shaped womanhood and gender identity. My aim was to create an interactive and multimedia work, and in this project I  photographed 104 different people and combined super 8 film, medium format photography, audio and written testimonies. 

In 2013 I received a grant from the University of Warwick to document French Caribbean identity. I spent one year living in Martinique carrying out field research for my Master by Research, which focused on documenting a new movement in post-colonial literature.

Business, knowledge transfer and international

One area where I excel is sharing my skills and knowledge with others. Through the variety of my roles, academic, professional, or volunteering, I have gained excellent business, knowledge transfer and international skills. 

Professional practice, knowledge exchange and impact

I work as a freelance photographer and videographer in London and specialise in portraiture, events and studio photography. I am also a dedicated documentary photography and research practice where I combine different visual elements together (such as analogue photography, super 8 film, textiles etc) to create a multimedia approach. I am very good at expanding my photography network and frequently attend workshops and additional classes to expand my skills and knowledge. I have exhibited my work internationally, and my projects have been featured in prestigious publications. 

Leadership and management

I have taken on a number of leadership and management projects and roles. I have co-founded a successful art collective, where I am responsible for organising workshops, exhibitions and publications. I also worked such as Operations Manager, Editor for the Culture Trip, or financial analyst at Ford, where I was in charge of various teams, schedules and goals, enabling me to become a great eader with fantastic management skills.