Childhood Photography Exhibition at Burslem School of Art

5 minute read

'Childhood' - A Photography Exhibition

It was the opening night of my very own photography exhibition on Tuesday night!  Despite feeling like I don't have the 'right' kind of work for a proper exhibition (do all artists feel that way?), I ploughed on, selected my images, made prints, installed my exhibition and people actually came and looked at it.  How amazing is that!?

So let me back track a little to how I ended up in this position.  A few months back, I entered an open competition held by the Photographers Collective North Staffordshire.  The Collective manages the gallery at Burslem School of Art, holding exhibitions and photography workshops to support the photographic community in North Staffordshire.  The theme was 'Selfies' and I was thrilled to be picked as the winner, with this image -

The Collective then offered for me to have an exhibition in their gallery and I, of course, accepted.  The School of Art is a wonderful old building, with lots of character and the photography gallery is a dedicated upstairs balcony space with large skylight bathing the space in wonderful natural light in the daytime.

It took me several weeks to shortlist some 80+ images, on several possible themes, which I then printed as standard 6x4 prints so that I could lay them out, look at them in print (which is always different than on screen), move them around, re-order them, see how they looked as a collection and eventually narrowed my selection down to 23 images.  Along the theme of 'childhood', I chose candid, documentary images of my children, just living their life in the way that children do.  I love this style of photography as a representation of what childhood is really like and I hope that people are drawn to the nostalgia of their own childhood, the innocence, the humour and the fun.

I decided to re-edit the colour images that I'd selected as black and white to maintain consistency with the rest of my selected images.  I'm a big fan of black and white for simplifying an image into shapes, lines, light and dark and I do think that they can have more of a timeless feel.  

I wanted to display my images unframed, simply mounted on foamboard to avoid any distraction and glare from glass.  I printed my 23 images as 18"x12" and, on the very useful advice from the wonderful members of the Photographers Collective, I set about mounting them myself on 5mm foamboard which wasn't as difficult as I thought it might be (and was much more cost effective).  Mounting myself meant that I could also mount the title cards and posters.

I then joined Tim Diggles and Chris Oldham to help take down Tim's exhibition, make good the walls and install my images.  I was really grateful for their experience.  Given the age of the building, the structure isn't exactly straight and it wouldn't look right to install images as truly straight with a spirit-level.  The easier option is to use spacers to line the images up with each other.  Worked a treat.

I was thrilled with how they all looked up on the walls.  It really is quite surreal to see your own work displayed like that, but so exciting at the same time.  I was so pleased to see a steady stream of people arrive on Tuesday night for the opening, to take a look and have a chat.  I put together a time-lapse of the evening -


It has been an honour to get this opportunity and I'm really grateful to the Photographers Collective for their support.  The exhibition is displayed at Burslem School of Art for the next 2 months, so there's plenty of time to go and check it out. 

I'm now a member of the Photographers Collective and I'm looking forward to taking part in and helping to run their workshops and events.  

The next in their programme is a pinhole workshop on Worldwide Pinhole Day, Sunday 26th April.  I dabbled with building my pinhole cameras a while ago and I'm really looking forward to trying it again.  Creating images just through a hole, straight on to paper, with no electronics and then developing in the dark room?  Yes please!  Email if you'd like to book a place.

Towards the end of my exhibition, I'm also hoping to arrange a workshop on photographing your children or family in a candid, but artistic way.  The images don't have to be black and white and you don't necessarily need an expensive camera, a smart phone can do the job.  If you're interested, send me your email address at and keep an eye on my Facebook page, where I'll publicise the details. 

I'll probably do another blog post after the exhibition has ended featuring all of the images, so that you have chance to see the collection at the exhibition first.  Go check it out at Burslem School of Art, Queen Street, ST6 3EJ.  It's open on weekdays between 10am and 5pm and it's free!