The Water Sustains Us: A trans-global collaboration between Whitecliffe and Nottingham College photography students

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The Water Sustains Us: A trans-global collaboration between Whitecliffe and Nottingham College photography students

An exciting trans-global photographic collaboration has been initiated by Nottingham College Photography course leader Matt Bunn and Head of Department, Photo Media at Whitecliffe College in Auckland. The project is student-led and facilitated by the faculty of each institution.

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The project was initiated in May 2019. Initial brainstorming involved working through a long list of potential project ideas to determine the final concept as that of waterways. This theme holds rich and diverse opportunities for image-making; exploring both the similarities and differences of each geographical and cultural location.

Structured as a long-form, long-distance collaborative workshop, this project has offered students from both Colleges the opportunity to test the reception and impact of their work through exposure to an audience far removed from the cultural context that they are used to. This means they need to question all their assumptions about how their work may be read, and also encourages them to look for connections and dialogue, in a truly global sense, through images.

The project has also thrown up logistical issues for the students to problem-solve, involving challenges such as time differences, online communication, digital image-sharing platforms and group work. These challenges help to develop skills that are of huge benefit to future employers and to those following a freelance pathway in a networked world.

An exhibition of The Water Sustains Us will be held in Pearce gallery, the on-campus gallery of Whitecliffe College, on Friday, November 1st. A floor talk and two open days will form the public program.

The final outcomes for the work will also be ultimately determined by the students. Further possibilities are exhibiting as part of the Auckland Festival of Photography and at Obscura Festival in Malaysia in 2020. Other potential outcomes include a travelling exhibition between the U.K and N.Z as well as online iterations of the projects.

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