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First Light at Waterside

North of England photography graduates showcased in First Light exhibition.

Kayleigh Cleminson's image for First Light
© Kayleigh Cleminson

A new exhibition will showcase work by this year’s north of England photography graduates. First Light will go on show at Waterside, Trafford.

In 2020, final year students have had to forgo the experience of the degree show – the culminating event after three years of study.

Waterside aims to provide hope and opportunity by responding positively to this challenging new landscape.

First Light also continues its burgeoning commitment to the region’s emerging photographic talent.

“With the challenges faced by institutions and students this year, it is more vital than ever to foster a sense of togetherness amongst the photography and wider visual arts community,” said Mario Popham, visual arts coordinator at Waterside.

“I feel very fortunate in being able to offer a platform, where we can work towards the common aim of nurturing the next generation of photographic creatives.

First Light has given us a fantastic opportunity to bring together and showcase the diversity and quality of the work coming through institutions in the north, celebrating the work of emerging photographers as well the courses who have helped to develop their skill and vision.”

Dan Commons' image for First Light
© Dan Commons

First Light

Thirteen universities nominated students from their new graduates for First Light.

From these, a panel of industry professionals selected a student from each institution to take part in two physical exhibitions.

The exhibitions are designed and curated by Popham.

Gallery spaces at Waterside are now reopen to the public, providing participants with a tangible opportunity for showing their work.

Partners Spectrum Photographic, Village Leeds, NQ Photo Studio, Open Eye Gallery and Laura Robertson from Double Negative have all donated further opportunities to be awarded to selected exhibitors.

Coinciding with the exhibition, Waterside will be co-producing a special edition of Open Eye’s zine publication, Tilt.

It will feature work by recent creative writing graduates responding to the selected photographic works.

For more information visit

David Ketley's image for First Light
© David Ketley