International photography festival showcasing work by Staffordshire University Photographers
‘Photocitizens’ celebrates future talent by showcasing the work of current photography students and recent graduates. Over the next few months, there will be exhibitions around the world in Italy, France, Greece, Vietnam, Lebanon, Spain, USA, Ireland, New Zealand and the UK.
Paul O’Leary, Course Leader for BA (Hons) Photography at Staffordshire University, founded ‘Photocitizens’ in 2015 and was keen to host this year’s UK exhibition in the University’s home city.
Paul said: “Photocitizens’ aim is to connect undergraduate and postgraduate photography students across the world with international photography festivals, galleries and art organisations.
“The project supports our University strategy for civic-engagement and hosting it right here in Stoke-on-Trent recognises our city as a hub for creativity and innovation.”
29 photographers – including nine Staffordshire University graduates – have been selected to have their work displayed on 8ft exhibition boards throughout the city centre until Friday 22 December 2023.
Among the photographers is Sam Bailey, who graduated from Staffordshire University with a first class degree in BA (Hons) Photography in 2021.
The 34-year-old from Blurton said: “I feel honoured to be part of the exhibition and I’m very excited for it open. It is nice to think that people can stumble across the exhibition as they’re going through the city centre and take some time out to observe and reflect.
“Stoke-on-Trent has a deep-rooted heritage in arts and creativity, and it is fantastic that this exhibition recognises that.”
Sam’s photograph, The Doll’s House (pictured), is a personal piece created during lockdown. Each room of the house features images inspired by everyday life and Sam’s children stand outside the toy house, symbolising the feeling of being outside and looking in.
“I grew up with cerebral palsy and at times during childhood I felt different and out of place. This piece represents me finding my place and a future that my children will be proud of,” Sam explained.
“The Doll’s House is also a place representing life before and after the pandemic as two separate entities. The person I was before the pandemic and the person I am now. This project was made to remind us of the fragility and fleetingness of feeling in-between and out of place but also with a hope to inspire.”
Maddie Hughes, who graduated summer 2023, also has work in the Photocitizens exhibition, which is sponsored by BID Stoke and Appetite.
Maddie’s final year project ‘Hobby House’ is a quirky collection of photographs centred around an eccentric family living in the same house and was shot in locations including a friend’s kitchen and an abandoned farmhouse.
Alongside her studies, Maddie worked as a photographer at Stafford Gatehouse Theatre and her love for the theatrical is reflected in her colourful photos, which feature an abundance of props sourced from eBay and charity shops.
The 21-year-old, from Upper Longdon, added: “It’s a real privilege to have my work selected as part of this exhibition in Hanley, especially as a Staffordshire University graduate. It’s an amazing opportunity to have my photography shown alongside such amazing creatives.”
The Photocitizens UK exhibition will be on display outside Boots in Market Square until Friday 22 December 2023 – find out more.
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