North East Connected

Why photography students are collaborating with the National Trust


Penny Grieveson and Chloe May

Photography students at the University of Sunderland got a snapshot into the industry after collaborating with the National Trust on exhibitions.

As part of their studies, students have worked alongside partners from around the region to produce commissioned work to give an insight into the workplace.

Four of these students have worked with the National Trust, with their work on display at Washington Old Hall with more to follow at Gibside and Crook Hall Gardens.

Chloe May, who studies Photography at the University, said: “Working with the National Trust has given me new confidence that I lacked as with my autism I’m heavily self critical when it comes to my work.

“But I have found my style of photography that I love doing, I love giving my photographs a dark and moody appearance which made my work with two volunteers who happened to be historical reenactors.

“It’s impacted my time at the University by helping me understand what style I want to do once I graduate and hopefully go onto being a freelance photographer. I’m determined to use this new development to further myself and my skills to become better.”

This project aimed to give an insight into the industry, as students have learnt hands on the process of working with a client collaboratively to develop their professional experience.

Penny Grieveson, a Photography student and who also took part in the project, said: “The team at Washington Old Hall were really inviting and they gave us the space to progress in building our skill set and professional practice over a 3 month period.”

Penny added: “This project allowed me to enhance my portraiture skills in particular and has impacted my time at the University by broadening my perspective of what opportunities, regarding an outlet for my photography, could be out there down the line.

As part of this project, participants had to carry out a green audit on themselves to reflect on how to develop their practice with sustainability in mind.

Johannah Churchill, lecturer in Contemporary Photography at the University, said: “This is such a fantastic opportunity for students to get real-world experience of managing a commercial job, or commission.

“I can’t tell you how proud I am and I’ve seen them visibly become more professional because of the way in which they have been allowed to make work in collaboration with their Art Partner.

“They have flourished. I am so grateful to Pearl Saddington for hosting the students and helping me to develop their skills. She’s been brilliant.”

Johannah added: “As part of the project students perform a “green audit” on themselves as a practitioner and they think about how those goals match up with their hosts, which is in line with the University of Sunderland’s sustainability plan.

“It really is fantastic to see them develop their work in such a conscientious manner. They really care about making the world a better place.”

Pearl Saddington, Volunteer and Community Involvement Officer, said: ‘We are excited to be working in partnership with the University of Sunderland to give their students the opportunity to shine a new light on the incredible work our staff and volunteers do behind the scenes.

“The students’ images will be on display in our sites now and throughout National Volunteer Week (3-9 June) and we hope that their work will encourage more people to volunteer with us.”

Pearl added: “We are looking forward to developing our partnership as new projects will allow the work future students to play a more creative role in helping us to foster some difficult conversations and debates around some of our key themes such as ‘Everyone Welcome’ and Climate Action’.”

If you are interested in studying Photography at the University, find out more here:

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