Arvor – Falmouth Press and Editorial Photography Final Degree Show

Nia Haf Collier with her work on one of the bus stop bill borads

Falmouth Press and Editorial final year degree show, Arvor, is on at the moment and over the weekend I went down to have a look. My daughter graduates from the course this year and has been involved in the organisation of the event.

An ‘Event’

Event would be a good word to sum up the show this year, as the students decided to take the exhibition out into the community and use venues across Falmouth to showcase their work. Running along side this is a website which provides more information on each of the student’s rational and shows more of their work and invited speakers will hold discussions on the work throughout the period. Each student  has exhibited four pieces in the ‘exhibition’ that runs at various venues in the town. To bring the work to people rather than bringing people to the work, as happens on most occasions in the form of galleries, is refreshing and provides a greater ‘footfall’ . Galleries can be intimidating places and don’t encourage work to be seen other than by a very specific clientele.

A trail brochure showed the venues and acted as a guide to what you had seen
Each venue was numbered as the trail took you through the town

So the ‘show’ becomes a trail and you can move from one side of town to the other ticking off the venues once they have been visited. There is a trail brochure which shows where the venues are, gives each a number and provides a tick box to fill in when you have seen the work.  As Falmouth is a small and contained town it’s not an arduous task to see all the work and a pleasant morning can be had visiting the ‘exhibition’ and stopping for a pint or a coffee, as a good number of the venues are eateries. The event was well publicised, with small posters in the town and some very impressive large posters placed strategically around the town and its environs. These were located at bus stops, again furthering the idea of taking the ‘exhibittion’ to a different audience.

Venues were chosen that suited the type of work shown

A clear Philosophy

The work itself is well worth a look and there is a good variety of subjects tackled and the quality is consistently high throughout the trail. The philosophy of the course is clear to see with story telling at its heart. Nowhere is the personal angst of students to be seen. They are a cohort who remain true to the idea of being honest to their subject and never letting themselves get in the way of telling the story, something that I’m aware of in other similar courses at the moment. This is not, however, at the expense of individual styles and it’s clear to see influences but that’s how it should be.*

Colour has taken precedence over the black and white image and this reflects the trend in current documentary practice but where black and white has been employed it is done so sympathetically and within clear traditional boundaries.

Bus stops throughout the town advertised the trail


There’s a healthy mix of local and international stories and each one is presented with a comprehensive piece of writing that clearly locates the images and offers more to move the story forward. At times there was probably too much context for the work on the walls and this could have been edited further at this point and expanded on within the finely produced website that accompanies the trail. In recent shows I’ve seen, I’ve been critical of a lack of context so it’s good to see it here, but at times there was too much information to be taken in by a passing audience.

Students were at hand on the opening day to talk about their work
Venues varied from coffee shops to pubs and even a barbers shop

I hope that this form of showing work is embraced by more courses as it clearly provides a link between the city/town and the university and does what good documentary/editorial photography should do;  provoke, inform, explain and bring to a wider public issues that need to be addressed and understood.  Arvor did all of this and brought it to me in a form that was informal yet personal.

The trail helped bring the university to the community and brought local business to the venues participating

*My daughters work shows clear influences from a very well trodden traditional form of documentary photography and also clearly shows references to my own documentary work. At a later date I’ll post about how our work shows parallels yet remains individual to us both.

A detailed look at the students who are graduating this year can be found here

Screen Shot 2013-06-12 at 16.19.10
Website showcasing all the graduating students


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