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Max Kandhola

Max Kandhola

Principal Lecturer

Visual Communication

Staff Group(s)


Max Kandhola (Peter Pupender Max Singh Kandhola) is a Principal Lecturer and Researcher at NTU he teaches across theory and practice in photography at undergraduate and post graduate courses and welcomes proposals from potential PhD students.

Career overview

Max is a British Punjabi Sikh, a photographer and academic. He has published 4 monographs and has exhibited his photographic work internationally, engaging in complex visual stories. Kandhola’s research and practice is positioned within the Artistic Research Centre (ARC) at NTU, in considering Race, Representation, Identity and Difference (RRID), these are the core issues of his photographic practice, which navigates languages that contribute to the innovation of artistic research processes both within and beyond the institution. View his Instagram here.

Max studied photography at Bournville College of Art, (Birmingham England) under the guidance of John Hodgetts followed by a First Class BA Hons Degree in Photography at University of Wolverhampton (Polytechnic), under the tutelage of social documentary photographer Nick Hedges.

He is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (HEA) and for over 21 years Max has taught on the BA Hons Photography course at Nottingham Trent University as a Senior Lecturer for 10 years, and Course Leader, and Principal Lecturer for 11 years responsible for the academic leadership, the design, delivery, and content of the curriculum.

Working within the wider academic community Max has been involved in various school pedagogic groups representing for example; School Ethics Committee, Teaching & Learning, AHRC School Peer Review, Visual Communication Research Co-ordinator, School International Group, Success for All Inclusive Practice. As a photographer within a Research and Practice context Max has contributed towards each of Nottingham Trent Universities Research Assessment Exercise from 1998 for RAE (Research Assessment Exercise) and REF (Research Excellence Framework).

In his formative photography career Max worked from his studio in Digbeth, Birmingham. From here he made photographic work that challenged notions of representation, race and identity. Issue informed by lived experiences, photographic work documenting family ancestry, diaspora, trauma of death and dying, British and Punjabi landscape, portrait studies that discuss class, culture and society.

The studio provided a space to make work and architect his photographic practice selling photographs direct to independent collectors, commissioners, and art buyers. From 1993- 2000 Kandhola shared a studio with contemporary Jewellery designer Sara Preisler (Sara Preisler England) at the Custard Factory, and with further collaborations with fashion designers in opening the concept space, The Goate Gallery (1992-1995) in central Birmingham due to the lack of Black and Asian representation within photography. Max was on the board of advisors for Seeing The Light and Rhubarb Rhubarb photography agency founded by the inspirational Rhonda Wilson MBE.

From 1998-2001 Max Kandhola was represented by Barbara Greene Fine Art in Chelsea New York. He was the recipient of the prestigious Light Work Artist in Residency (AIR) based in Syracuse New York in 1996 supported by Autograph and awarded another AIR in 2002 Every year Light Work invites between twelve and fifteen artists to participate in their AIR programme at Syracuse University to devote one month towards the development of ongoing or new work.

Max Kandhola is a member of FACE Formed to challenge the lack of Black and Brown academics in the system, which directly impacts the experience of all young creatives but especially Black and Brown students, FACE demands acknowledgement of the contribution of Black culture and creativity, to history, society and to fashion.

Max Kandhola has published 4 monographs

The Aura of Boxing, Dewi Lewis Publishing, 2014, on boxing the gym and boxing methodology. 'The ritual and repetition provided a multi-sensory experience, a sense of order to familiarise and architect their art within the context of the boxing ring. The ritual is silently orchestrated, a delicate process to cleanse the body and mind to exorcise hidden ghosts and find a sense of peace'.

An extended essay on The Aura of Boxing, titled 'To Document The Methodology of The Pugilistic Artisan' by Max Kandhola is published by New Art Exchange Nottingham, exhibition catalogue. ISBN 978-0-9560253.

Flatland A Landscape of Punjab, Dewi Lewis Publishing 2007, documenting the Punjabi diasporic landscape, essays by Alka Panda and Max Kandhola. 'Over the last four years, he has visited the region as part of a continuing project to map family history through an odyssey of ancestral narratives, exploring memory, diaspora and identity. For him it is a land which is unfamiliar, yet it provides both a context and a beginning. Kandhola’s journey began in Nurmahal, in the district of Jalandhar, from which most of his family originally came. Using this as a starting point he travelled from the centre of Punjab outwards'.

Illustration of Life, Lightwork Syracuse NY, Impressions Gallery Bradford & Dewi Lewis Publishing 2003, a visual commentary on his father’s death from cancer and Sikh rituals of death and dying, with essays by Mark Sealy, Anne McNeil and Max Kandhola.

Autograph Monograph series, Autograph ABP 1996, a collection of photographic work responding to identity and race.

Max has exhibited and published his work internationally, his photography held in major public and private collections in England, Europe, America and India, including, The Deutsche Bank Collection; The National Trust England, photographs to be housed at the Fox Talbot Museum of Photography, Lacock Abbey, where they will be available for research and display from late 2022; Government Art Collection UK. Max is represented by PhotoInk, Delhi, India

His most recent exhibitions include, Global Images of Christ: Challenging Perceptions at Chester Cathedral, October 2021, The Last Seven Words of Christ in collaboration with St Marks Church In The Bowery, New York, Feb- March 2020 and ‘u fucking paki’ FotoFest 2018 Biennial: India/Contemporary Photographic and New Media Art, Houston, Texas, United States, 10 March - 22 April 2018.

Within a mentoring role, Max Kandhola has successfully supported many young artist/photographers careers and aspirations through specific personal mentoring; portfolio development, editorial advice for direct outcome towards publication, exhibition and support for business strategic development within arts and photography.

Research areas

Max Kandhola’s photographic research is used within a cultural discourse, critically observing and questioning the complexity and relationship of the human condition and the politics of representation. His research over the years has dealt with issues of Black and Asian representation; Death and Dying; Portraits; Faith; Land and Landscape; The Diaspora; and Cultures of British Boxing.

Within a research context, Max welcomes proposals from potential PhD students, who want to engage in complex visual photographic strategies informed by critical discourse and traditional practices around the following themes.

Race and Identity

Death and Dying

The Landscape

Faith and Belief A Visual Theological Representation

Photographic cultural discourse Society and Sport.

Please look at our website for research bursaries.,-representation-and-identity

External activity

Scholarly activity validation of programmes

2018 Griffith College in Dublin BA Hons Journalism and Photography Validation

2017 Leeds Trinity University Validation Panel BA Hons Photography

2017 Hull College Revalidation Panel BA Hons Photography

2016 Validation panel BA Hons Photography and BA Hons Fine Art, Leeds College of Art

2009-2012 BA Hons Photography; Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology, Dublin
2010-2012 BA Hons Photography, Faculty of Science, Technology and Creative Arts, University of Hertfordshire
2010 BA Hons Photography Leeds College of Art, Open University, Re-Validation panel
2009 BA Hons Photography; Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology, Dublin
2008-2009 BA Hons Photography, Faculty of Science, Technology and Creative Arts, University of Hertfordshire

External academic and professional activity

2021 / 2019 Oct/Nov Erasmus Mobility Grant travel to Slovakia Bratislava Arts and Design Academy & OFF Bratislava

2018 March/April  Huston Fotofest exhibition 'u fucking paki' in discussion with Sunil Gupta 2018

2007 – 2010 AHRC Peer Review College
2009 - Sept East Midlands Creative Awards Panel
2009 - 2011 Board Member, Rhubarb-Rhubarb

2008 - 2010 Board of Trustees Pavilion, Leeds
2007 - 2008 Pavilion Bursary Award Judging panel member and mentor to the five award-winning artists for the duration of the bursary award
2007 - Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery Open Award judging panel
2005 - 2007 Board member Pavilion
2006 - 2009 Portfolio Review Panel, November Month of Photography FOTOFO, Bratislava, Slovakia
2005 - 2006 Mentor, Creative Alliance and Seeing The Light Agency
2004 - present Mentor to emerging artists, portfolio and business development strategies , bid/fund writing

International Student Collaborations

Student Awards

2013 AHRC Postgraduate scheme student MA grant awarded to Mahtab Hussain (MA project investigated British Pakistani living in contemporary western society)

2007 AHRC Postgraduate scheme student MA grant awarded to Sally Ashton (MA project investigated Military barracks and memory)

2010 – ongoing award each year in collaboration with NAE New Art Exchange Nottingham each year award 3-4 photography students to exhibit in their work within the central gallery, as part of the summer degree shows

2009 – ongoing award each year present 2 student Portfolio and 1 Bursary Award in collaboration with Genesis Imaging London and Djanogly Art Gallery Nottingham. The award has been presented to over 34 photography students since 2009

Sponsors and collaborators


Full list of publications can be found by clicking on 'go to publications' link above.

Selected Publications:

KANDHOLA, M., & DIETSCHY,N,. 2020. “The Figure of Christ in Contemporary Photography”, Reaktion books April 2020), authored by Dietschy.

KANDHOLA, M., 2018. 'u fucking Paki'. In: S. EVANS and S. GUPTA, eds., India: contemporary photographic and new media art. Amsterdam: Schilt Publishing.ISBN 9789053309001

KANDHOLA, M., 2018. 'u fucking Paki'. In: Fotofest 2018 biennial catalogue. Amsterdam: Schilt Publishing. ISBN 9789053309131

KANDHOLA, M., 2016. The last seven words of Christ. In: Le Christ au miroir de la photographie contemporaine. Neuchâtel: Editions Alphil-Presses universitaires suisses. ISBN 9782889300884

KANDHOLA, M., & KIDD, M., 2014. The Aura of Boxing, New Art Exchange Nottingham, exhibition catalogue. ISBN 978-0-9560253.

KANDHOLA,M.,2013.The Aura of Boxing, 1st edition,Stockport:Dewi Lewis Publishing.

KANDHOLA, M., 2011-2012. The Last Seven Words of Christ, ‘Wounding The Black Male' (exhibitions),CEPA Gallery, Buffalo, USA (14 July - 25 August 2012); Light Work Syracuse, New York (17 January-31 May 2012); TCNJ College of New Jersey Art Gallery, New Jersey (16 March-20 April 2011).

KANDHOLA,M., 2007.Flatland A landscape of Punjab .Stockport:Dewi Lewis Publishing.

DOWNEY,A. & KANDHOLA,M.,2006.The Living is Easy: International Contemporary Photography [catalogue of an exhibition held at Flowers East Gallery, London,August- September,2006]. London:Flowers East.

KANDHOLA, M., 2005. Illustration of life. Bratislava, Slovakia: Galeria Medium. ISBN 8088675812

KANDHOLA, M., 2005. On dying. Bratislava, Slovakia: Fotofo. ISBN 8085739437

KANDHOLA, M. and TULLOCH, C., 2004. Black style. London: Victoria & Albert Museum Publications. ISBN 1851774246

KANDHOLA, M., 2003. Illustration of life. 1st edition,Stockport:Stockport: Dewi Lewis Publishing, Impressions Gallery Bradford and Lightwork Syracuse NY.. ISBN 0935445285

KANDHOLA, M., 2002. Illustration of life. Syracuse, New York: Light Work. ISBN 0935445277

KANDHOLA, M., 2001. Fluid [Catalogue of an exhibition held at Wolverhampton Art Gallery, September, 2001]. Wolverhampton: Wolverhampton Art Gallery.

KANDHOLA, M. and SEALY, M., 1995. Peter Max Kandhola: monograph. London: Autograph ABP (Association of Black Publishers). ISBN 1899282025

Selected Exhibitions

KANDHOLA, M., 2021. Global Images of Christ: Challenging Perceptions. Work exhibited The Last Seven Words of Christ. Three panels. Chester Cathedral. International group exhibition titled, Global Images of Christ: Challenging Perceptions at Chester Cathedral. A landmark exhibition of over 40 enlightening works of art, sculpture, photography and paintings to challenge our perceptions as to how Jesus Christ and other people of faith are depicted by people of different ethnicity, race and colour. Saturday 25 September – Saturday 30 October 2021.

GWANGI DESIGN BIENNALE Korea. d-Revolution (Design Revolution)., 2021. Gwangju City / Gwangju Institute of Design Promotion & Gwangju Museum of Art. Exhibition proposal curated by Max Kandhola, Photography (Visual Communication) and Grant Baker, Product Design (School of Architecture Design and the Built Environment), Nottingham Trent University invited staff, current UG, MA students and alumni. 01st Sept – 31st Oct, 2021

KANDHOLA, M., 2021. Alabaster The Anatomy of Hands. Restriction Project. Over 1000 miniature artworks, 200 international artists. Clayhill Arts England 25th March – 6th April 2021

KANDHOLA, M., 2021 The Last Seven Words of Christ. St Marks Church in The Bowery New York, outdoor installation  during Lent Feb - April 2021

KANDHOLA, M., 2020 The Last Seven Words of Christ. St Marks Church In The Bowery New York. 26th Feb – 9th April 2020

KANDHOLA, M., 2019 April Shifting Identities, Group exhibition Stories The Government Art Collection (GAC) marking the start of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London. Exploring themes that connect to a sense of identity and place are paintings, sculptures, photographic works and prints related to Commonwealth cultural identities. Spanning nearly 80 years of art, the show features works by sixteen artists:

KANDHOLA, M., 2018. 'u fucking paki'. FotoFest 2018 Biennial: India/Contemporary Photographic and New Media Art, Houston, Texas, United States, 10 March - 22 April 2018.

KANDHOLA, M., 2014. Max Kandhola: The aura of boxing - the colour series. Rich Mix, London, 6-30 March 2014.

KANDHOLA, M., 2014. Max Kandhola: The aura of boxing - the black and white series. New Art Exchange, Nottingham, 1 February - 20 April 2014.

KANDHOLA, M., 2014. Max Kandhola: The aura of boxing - the contact sheets. Format/Quad, Chocolate Factory, Derby, 29 March - 19 April 2014.

KANDHOLA, M., 2013. The Last Seven Words of Christ & The Gaze I-VII. The Church of St. Martin's, Bullring, Birmingham, 13 March - 15 April 2013.

KANDHOLA, M., 2012. The Last Seven Words of Christ. St. Mary’s Church, Lace Market, Nottingham, 6 – 30 April 2012. [Show/Exhibition]

KANDHOLA, M., JACKSON, C. and CUNNINGHAM, S., 2012. Wounding the Black Male. CEPA Gallery, Buffalo, 2012. [Show/Exhibition]

KANDHOLA, M., JACKSON, C. and CUNNINGHAM, S., 2012. Wounding the Black Male. Robert B. Mensciel Gallery, LightWork, Syracuse, NY, USA, 2012.[Show/Exhibition]

KANDHOLA, M., JACKSON, C. and CUNNINGHAM, S., 2011. Wounding the Black Male. TCNJ Art Gallery, Ewing, NJ, USA, March 2011.[Show/Exhibition]

KANDHOLA, M., 2010. Flatlands: a landscape of Punjab. Photographs & installation of paintings, drawings and related works. Impressions Gallery, Bradford, April - June 2010. [Show/Exhibition]

KANDHOLA, M., 2009. Field Notes & Explorations (Flatland a Landscape of Punjab). Central European House of Photography, Bratislava, Slovakia, 14 May–7 June 2009. [Show/Exhibition]

KANDHOLA, M., 2009. Flatlands: a landscape of Punjab & illustration of life, (installation). PhotoInk, Delhi, September - October 2009.[Show/Exhibition]

KANDHOLA, M., 2008. [Group exhibition representing the UK at:] Pingyao International Photo Festival China, September 2008. [Show/Exhibition]

KANDHOLA, M., 2007. Flatland: a landscape of Punjab. Djanogly Art Gallery, Lakeside, University of Nottingham, September - November, 2007.[Show/Exhibition]

KANDHOLA, M., 2007. Luminous. Rhubarb-Rhubarb, Birmingham, July 2007 [a collaboration]. [Show/Exhibition]

KANDHOLA, M., 2007. The alchemy of shadows. Third Lianzhou International Photography Festival, December 2007. [Show/Exhibition]

KANDHOLA, M., 2006. British black style [group exhibition]. Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, 06 June, 2006 - 06 September, 2006.[Show/Exhibition]

KANDHOLA, M., 2006. Luminous [Group exhibition]. Hotel d'Arlatan, Les Rencontres d'Arles, France, July - September, 2006. [Show/Exhibition]

KANDHOLA, M., 2006. The diver series [Luminous group exhibition]. Hotel d'Arlatan, Les Rencontres d'Arles, France, July - September, 2006.[Show/Exhibition]

KANDHOLA, M., 2006. The living is easy: international contemporary photography [Group exhibition of works from 'The diver series', 1990 - 2000.] Flowers East, August, 2006. [Show/Exhibition]

KANDHOLA, M., 2005. On dying (Illustration of life). Month of Photography Festival (mesiac fotografie), T-Gallery, Bratislava, Slovakia, November 11, 2005. [Show/Exhibition]

KANDHOLA, M., 2004. Illustration of life. Millais Gallery, Southampton Institute, Southampton, June - August, 2004. [Show/Exhibition]

KANDHOLA, M., 2004. Illustration of life. Q Arts Gallery, Derby, January - February, 2004. [Show/Exhibition]

KANDHOLA, M., 2003. Illustration of life. Focal Point Gallery, Southend-on-Sea, Essex, November - December, 2003. [Show/Exhibition]

KANDHOLA, M., 2003. Illustration of life. Impressions Gallery, York, April - May, 2003. [Show/Exhibition]

KANDHOLA, M., 2002. Illustration of life. Robert B. Menschel Photography Gallery, Syracuse, New York, August - October, 2002. [Show/Exhibition]

KANDHOLA, M., 2001. Fluid [Group exhibition]. Wolverhampton Art Gallery, September - November, 2001. [Show/Exhibition]

KANDHOLA, M., 2001. Just another day [Group exhibition]. Ffotogallery, Cardiff, June - July, 2001. [Show/Exhibition]

KANDHOLA, M., 2001. Mesiac fotografie/month of photography [group exhibition]. Galleria Medium Bratislava, Bratislava, Slovakia, October - November, 2001. [Show/Exhibition]

KANDHOLA, M., 2001. Ritual and religion [Group exhibition]. Robert B. Menschel Photography Gallery, Schine Student Center, Syracuse University, New York, August, 2001 - February, 2002. [Show/Exhibition]

KANDHOLA, M., 2001. Something old something new [Group exhibition]. Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, May - June, 2001. [Show/Exhibition]

KANDHOLA, M., 2001. Vollbart, langes haar... das bildnis Jesu Christi in der fotografie (Images of Christ as portrayed in photography spanning 1839 to contemporary day) [International group exhibition showing works from 'The seven words']. Leinwandhaus, Frankfurt, June - Aug. [Show/Exhibition]

KANDHOLA, M., 1999. Arcs, variation in flight. Fine Art Gallery, New York, December, 1999 - January, 2000. [Show/Exhibition]

KANDHOLA, M., 1998. Death and the illustration of life. Lighthouse Media Gallery, Wolverhampton, November, 1998 - January, 1999.[Show/Exhibition]

KANDHOLA, M., 1998. The seven words and selected photographic works. Photofusion Gallery, London, January - March, 1998. [Show/Exhibition]

Digital Media

KANDHOLA, M., 2016. Max Kandhola: oral history interview for the British Library 'Oral history of British photography'. [Digital or Visual Media]

KANDHOLA, M., 2014. The aura of boxing: Max Kandhola in conversation with Melanie Kidd NAE director of programmes. [Digital or Visual Media]

See all of Max Kandhola Principal Lecturer's publications...

Press expertise

Photography; Photography to reflect on death and dying; Photography of urban and rural Landscapes; Photography and faith; Photography exploring British boxing used as a metaphor to discuss society and cultures; Photography and the Punjabi diaspora in England.

Course(s) I teach on

  • MA Photography Adam Deakin
    Postgraduate taught | Full-time | 2023