With varied photographic show on offer at The HIVEArts Church Street gallery, David Simper was close to duty bound to catch the service 61 bus and view what turned out to be an excellent show exhibited by a talented group of students.

The HIVE shop roller shutter was down when I arrived, a little early, for this exhibition, which gave time for a little sit down and some reflection. Soon we were able to climb the broad stairs to witness a ribbon cutting by local photographer, Richard Davis, who stayed to socialise and view the work. After this the gallery was crowded.

The No. 12 Collective is a group of twelve UCLAN students completing their photography course with an end of year exhibition, which they’ve chosen to bring to Blackpool. This is a diverse group of aspiring photographers, covering a vast range of photography. Each project tells a unique story, providing insight into the hearts and minds of these emerging artists. This sounds good to a workaday photographer who literally has no plan.

The show was well supplied with supporting literature, some of which is beside me as I write. A lot of thought has gone into preparing a brochure with a pen portrait of each contributor together with samples of their work.

And such work! I was really impressed by the quality on display. This showed a high level of technical skill combined with imagination and creativity.

I spoke to Debra Parr, a year 2 student doing my BA (Hons) Photography degree at the University of Central Lancashire, who had chosen a football theme for her project and display.

“Photography has always been a passion of mine. When I left school photography wasn’t considered a job, so I got a job in a library and then I became a chartered building surveyor,” she said. “Now I’m a teacher for two tofour year olds.

I’m coming up to retiring and thought, right, now is the time to indulge my passion and I went back to university. I feel that it’s given me a new lease of life. I’d never been in a darkroom or a studio before. I’m now using a medium format camera, which I love, and I can work in all sorts of photographic situations. Now I want to master the 5×4 view camera. I want to become the best photographer that I can.”

Debra with her football based work. That’s quite a portrait.

So what had led to The HIVEArts gallery being selected for the exhibition?

“Part of the end of year assignment was that the exhibition had to be put on by ourselves and we had to find the venue,” said Parr. “We did look at places in Preston but insurance was a stumbling block, a lot of venues didn’t have it. Then a friend said to check out Hive. I submitted a piece for a winter exhibition, then there was the International Women’s Day event this year and I submitted a piece for that, so I was already aware of the place and loved the vibe. We all came to visit and all said yes, this is what we want.”

I wonder if Parr considers the future of photography safe in her group’s hands. She pauses for a moment.

“What I like about our group is that we’re all so different. Digital and AI is coming along, but real photography is still alive. I class myself as a social documentary photographer and I think the work I’m doing now might not be valuable for a few years time, but then it will be.

“We should push the boundaries and experiment. A colleague experiments in the darkroom using lots of colours. I like to shoot people (with the camera). The show contains many different subjects and approaches. It’s unusual, I think, for a group of 12, that none of us are similar. Within such a small group photography is still very much alive, still very much relevant. Everybody is passionate about photography. Our group is very inclusive.”

A live singer provided background music. The excellent canapes circulated until it was time to make tracks, hopefully with sufficient material to put this article together. I went for the service 3a, which finishes slightly further out from my home than other services, although I do need the exercise.

The exhibition will be on show at Hive on Church street until 28th April.


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    I have worked in the housing and transport professions for several local authorities, specialising in policy, strategy preparation and bid writing. Having always had an interest in film, the visual arts in general, theatre, music and lterature, I thought it would be good to combine the writing experience with these interests to contribute to altBlackpool. In addition to writing, my hobbies include watercolour and pastel painting, photography, woodwork, cycling and vegetable gardening.

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  • ate Yates

    As always a superbly crafted review from David.
    I know the students will be viewing and reading this and feeling suitably pleased. Many thanks also from the team at HIVE Arts for your much appreciated patronage and support

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