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First Light celebrates north of England’s class of 2020

Work from graduates in the north of England is celebrated in the First Light photography project.

Images of toadstools by Talulla Greenwood, part of the First Light project
Images of toadstools © Talulla Greenwood
A new photography project is celebrating work from graduates in the north of England. First Light includes a series of talks, an exhibition and special-edition zine.

Waterside, in Sale, Trafford, is presenting the project.

In partnership with Open Eye Gallery, Castlefield Gallery New Art Spaces and Creative Industries Trafford, it provides opportunities for graduates from 13 universities across the north of England.

Waterside curator Mario Popham says: “The selected work reflects the diversity of photography as practiced today, demonstrating the rich ways in which the medium continues to reflect and interpret the world and our reality.

“It has been wonderful to be able to offer a platform to these talented individuals as they step into the professional realm.”

A black and white image depicting curls of smoke and plants in a mug by Alberto Gonzalez. Part of the First Light project.
© Alberto Gonzalez

Open Eye talks

A panel of industry professionals have selected a student from each of the 13 universities.

They are taking part in a series of online talks, a publication and an exhibition.

The talks, hosted by Open Eye Gallery, take place via Zoom for free until June 8.

They bring together the photographers, writers and educators who are central to First Light.

Chaired by Open Eye’s writer-in-residence Laura Robertson and Popham, they discuss:

  • Ideas and inspiration behind the images
  • Potential for collaboration across disciplines
  • The relationship between the image and the word
  • The role educators play in the early development of artistic practice.

Director of Open Eye Gallery Sarah Fisher says: “At a time when we should all be re-imagining futures, fostering emerging talent is something we all need to champion.

First Light offers a meaningful approach to championing exceptional creatives who had the misfortune to graduate during a national pandemic.”

Find out more about the programme of talks here.

A pizza cutter on a pink background with a slice of salami sitting on top. Image by Sam Wallis and chosen for the First Light project.
© Sam Wallis

First Light exhibition

The First Light exhibition opens on May 22 at Castlefield Gallery’s New Art Spaces, Warrington.

Entrance is free of charge.

It showcases work by the selected graduates, curated by Popham and Polly Palmirini from the Museum of Half Truths.

The exhibition is supported by Culture Warrington and Warrington Council.

New Art Spaces coordinator Nicholas James says: “We’re excited to be working with partners Waterside and Open Eye Gallery, and to have the opportunity to exhibit First Light at Castlefield Gallery’s New Art Spaces in Warrington.

“First Light promises to be a showcase of resilience, invention and innovation.’

A special First Light edition of Tilt, Open Eye’s in-house zine, will feature 13 commissioned pieces of new writing responding to the selected photographic work.

Produced by Robertson, it features text from 2020 graduates nominated by diverse writing programmes and undergraduate degrees across the north west.

The ambitious, interdisciplinary and contemporary arts publication features texts ranging from poetry and flash fiction to traditional journalism.

First Light is supported by Spectrum Photographic, Village Leeds, NQ Photo Studio and Laura Robertson from Double Negative, who have all donated additional prizes.

It is also supported by the Culture Recovery Fund and Creative Industries Trafford.