Born in Canterbury 1965; studied at Falmouth University (1985-1988) and the Slade School of Fine Art (1990-1992).
Although Dean trained as a painter most of her practice has involved film and photography, establishing a much admired reputation for sensitive and atmospheric explorations using 16mm film evoking, for instance, histories of personal struggle. Her 1995 film Disappearance at Sea was about the amateur sailor Donald Crowhurst who made and unsuccessful and ultimately tragic solo attempt to circumnavigate the world.
Following this Dean was nominated for the Turner Prize (1995) and since then has been awarded several prestigious international art prizes. Recent films have focussed on important cultural figures such as the dancer and choreographer Merce Cunningham and the painters Claes Oldenburgh and Cy Twombly.