Our Time, Our Place: Mentees & Interns

Our Time, Our Place included a mentoring programme with Craig Easton for emerging photographers and a curatorial internship in Blackpool.

Mentoring Emerging Photographers

Work by mentee, David Contreras Paez. Courtesy the artist.

For Our Time, Our Place, six emerging photographers were nominated by each of the touring partners to take part in a mentoring programme. Meeting regularly throughout the year, Craig Easton shared his expertise and knowledge with the six photographers, encouraging them to engage with people, develop contacts, build narrative stories and explore different possible approaches to their subject matter.

The photographers developed new work focused on community stories. Developing the work involved meeting and speaking to railway workers, nurses, teachers, postal workers, people living on canal boats and in tower blocks, allotment users, the LGBT community in Chester, and people with special educational needs and disability.

Work by Rachel Beeson. Courtsey the Artist.

Discussing the mentee programme, Easton shares:

“They have definitely been on a journey, they all became much more confident. I only set them one task: to get 30 head and shoulder portraits of people they’d met in the street. It was about approaching people, telling them what they were doing and asking if they could take their photo. Some did it really well, and one or two found it very difficult. It was a learning experience for them. Some started out very nervous, and now they have made whole projects about people they had never previously met.”

One of the emerging photographers reflected on the process, sharing:

“The process of having a continuing conversation, with someone who understands your work and its progression. It had a positive effect on my work, it’s changed the process of how I work and how I think about it.”

During the programme, the mentees had the opportunity to share work in progress as part of the Northern Eye Festival in Colwyn Bay in autumn 2023. The photographer’s final work was presented at Williamson Art Gallery & Museum alongside Easton’s work for the final leg of the exhibition tour.

Work By Orrin Whitehead-St.Pierre. Courtesy the Artist.
Work by Hellen Songa. Courtesy the Artist.

David Contreras Paez, (supported by University of Salford) explored themes of community, camaraderie and belonging through skateboarders in Manchester’s Lincoln Square.

Rachel Beeson, (supported by University of Salford) images’ formed part of a long-term, collaborative project documenting industrial action, from the perspective of the people involved.

Calum Heywood, (supported by Blackburn Museum & Art Gallery) developed work capturing the zeitgeist of a growing season in a small community growing project based in Blackburn, Lancashire.

Orrin Whitehead-St.Pierre, (supported by Blackburn Museum & Art Gallery) focused on the diversity of people living on boats along the British waterways, exploring people’s relation to space & place when they’re both so constrained and fluid.

Hellen Songa, (supported by Open Eye Gallery) developed Queer Ecology Silent Spring, an exploration of how queerness manifests comparably in the human and plant world.

Julie Thompson, (supported by Blackburn College) created a portrait of Paula who creates quality handcrafted garments for women and promotes a slower mindful approach to clothing.

Work by Calum Heywood. Courtesy the Artist.
Work by Julie Thompson. Courtesy the Artist.

Our Time, Our Place at Northern Eye Festival

Craig Easton: Is Anybody Listening? at Williamson Art Gallery & Museum

Wirral Borough of Culture Launch Event (featuring work from the mentees)

Curatorial Internship

A curatorial internship was also offered as part of Our Time, Our Place. The internship gave one Blackpool School of Arts graduate the opportunity to work closely with the exhibition team in Blackpool on the installation of Is Anybody Listening?

On the experience, Sam Wallis who was awarded the internship shared:

“The brilliant thing about the internship is that I got to see and work on the complete process of preparing a room for, and constructing an exhibition. Right through to deconstruction and putting the room back to its usual decor.”

The opportunity was particularly valuable to Sam, who expressed that the skills and experience gained through the internship were ones he missed out on during his degree due to the timings of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Images from the installation of Is Anybody Listening? at Blackpool School of Arts, 2023. Courtesy LeftCoast.

Is Anybody Listening? Our Time, Our Place is presented by the University of Salford and generously supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund.