New College Students Exhibit with Photo Swindon at Old Town Gardens

06 Oct 2021

Photo Swindon's outdoor exhibition has been running across several venues and has included prominent documentary photography names such as Martin Parr, Jason Florio, and Sanne De Wilde. The exhibition has explored ‘togetherness’; an abstract concept that can mean different things to many people. Each photographer brought a unique and informed perspective displaying that sometimes adversary and difference can play a unifying role. The exhibition is inspired by the recent pandemic and associated lockdowns, changing what ‘together’ meant to the world.

New College's Photography students will be displayed at this exhibition with a similar theme. Photography is famous for its brevity. The images the students have produced display more than skill, talent, and creativity, acting as historical documents forever freezing the lonely pandemic months of 2020 and 2021.

The nations’ students have had to overcome a unique set of challenges, facing uncertainty, isolation, and significant cultural changes. Students have shown great resilience, dedication, and tenacity to reach beyond crisis, adapting and changing to continue doing what they love. The move to home learning presented challenges for learners and lecturers alike; however, access to equipment and resources provided one of many struggles for isolated students.

Regarding the exhibition and its themes, Lou Spence, the Course Leader for A level Photography states:

“What is presented here is a selection of work produced over the last year by our Level 3 students and they have now just entered into their second year at New College. The images were made during what was a very difficult year in education; with online teaching and learning and a high level of independence required of students to engage remotely and to produce and submit work. The photography they produced naturally showcases their experiences of this period; a life in lockdown, attending college online, spending more time with family and less with friends, limited opportunities to travel, and when we did it was a summer of Staycations, exploring our local environments; trying to carry on with life as normal when things have shifted so much in such a short space of time… except when you are 16 going on17 this has seemed like a really long time… a significant period within a highly transitional time in your life”

Turning tragedy into art is not new, but so rarely is tragedy universal. The photos the students will display show relatable experiences documenting familiar moments of lockdown that we will all recognise. This act of unification under a shared experience brings a further dimension to the exhibit's concept of togetherness.

The Photography students will be presenting their work across Swindon at Queens Park, GWR Park, and Town Gardens in this open-air exhibition. The images capture a range of perspectives, and all utilise creativity in restrictive circumstances with many of the photos taken at home. The photos offer a candid on-the-ground view of young people's lives through lockdown. The images range from pessimistic, optimistic, stoic, and apathetic, as each photographer grapples with their new forced reality. The exhibition contains familiar moments, perfectly encapsulating the feeling of the lockdown.

Aaron Wyatt explores the new normal in his series of images, providing considered and contemporary images in a reportage style. Aaron seamlessly straddles the spectrum between scenic landscapes and candid street portraiture creating accurate documentation of the public's life in lockdown.

Freya Hull constructs black and white images with amazing attention to depth, tone, and contrast, forming eye-catching aesthetically pleasing scenes. Documenting family and scenery that creates familiarity and relatability to her work. Freya’s work is both current and evokes feelings of nostalgia.

Harry Gasson’s work is a celebration of freedom; his images documenting a trip he and his friends took around the UK once the lockdown restrictions had eased. Drastic landscapes, misty mountains, and the use of black and white give Harry's photographs a cinematic feel, with a hint of the work of legendary photographer Ansel Adams.

Nancy Whitehouse's photos display a haunting atmosphere, gloomy, misty, and grey. With carefully considered composition, maximizing space in the frame, Nancy’s work certainly captures a feeling of isolation against the backdrop of familiar but liminal scenes.

Nikita Ihrig’s project titled ‘Young Families’ explores relationships of new families during lockdown. Candid and simple, Nikita’s photos provide a voyeuristic view behind closed doors daring to document both relationships that blossom and those that did not under the effects of lockdown.

Many more students are exhibiting, all with their own unique perspective and style. The exhibition is a fantastic opportunity for student photographers to promote themselves on a platform that has hosted large internationally-recognised names within the industry. The past year will go down in history, one way or another, and students participating will be part of the documentation process.

The Exhibition is free to attend and gives you the ability to enjoy the work of New College's photography students while in Swindon's scenic locations. It is running from 5th-17th October at Town Gardens Swindon.