Life through a lens

Striking photographs have the power to shock, surprise, excite and move. Whether they portray significant incidents in a person’s life, scenes of conflict or picturesque landscapes, images capture a moment in time and have the ability to evoke strong emotions and responses. Creating photographs that are out of the ordinary takes skill, tenacity and dedication.

A new exhibition featuring prints that challenge and fascinate has been brought to Wolverhampton for the first time in its history. The Royal Photographic Society’s (RPS) 154th International Print Exhibition is co-hosted by the University’s School of Art & Design and the Wolverhampton Art Gallery until 20 May 2012.

Over 100 prints are featured in the exhibition, including one by Divisional Leader for Fine and Art and Photography at the University, Su Fahy, who has received an Associateship of the Society.

Su was delighted that her work, titled Tea Party, was selected to be included in the prestigious exhibition, and she thought it would be a great opportunity to bring the show to Wolverhampton.

In addition, she has developed the University’s first wlvfotofest, a programme of photography events surrounding the show. This has included lectures by notable artists such as Justin Quinnell and Ann Walker and student workshops.

Su says: “It was the first time I have submitted to the RPS exhibition, and I think they were keen to get more contemporary photographers on board.

“The idea behind wlvfotofest is to do something different to really put us on the map. I hope to host it biennially and bring together all the exciting events we hold into one week to showcase talent. It also enables us to engage with a global audience as we have brought photography from around the world to the University and art gallery.”

The Royal Photographic Society has long been recognised for the promotion and maintenance of high photographic standards around the world. The exhibition includes award-winning prints, and having access to outstanding examples of photography is of huge benefit to the students hoping to develop careers in this artistic field.

“We are aiming for excellence in our field of photography and to bring in an international print show can raise the aspirations of our students,” Su continues. “I hope that each year we will be able to bring in a touring show of art and hold a series of events to showcase local talent.”

With the prevalence of digital photography today, people often view the majority of their own images online and rarely develop them into physical prints.

But hosting an exhibition such as this reminds students of the intrinsic value and importance of ‘traditional’ photography.

“Photography has now gone digital but the art of the print is still an important part of the process,” Su says. “People are tending to look at photography in a secondary way, online. But this exhibition celebrates the presentation of the visual form.

“Another benefit is that it will flag up to students the value of creating interesting work to showcase in an exhibition. We are encouraging that aspiration to put work out there and be counted.”

The show features a wide range of prints, from images of buffalos battling through snow to workmen climbing a ladder with a vivid red backdrop. As with all works of art, interpretation is in the eye of the beholder, making a visit to the exhibition a challenging, interesting and evocative experience.