The Genesis Student Bursary 2014

'The Conquest of Materials' Ben Swanson (left), 'The Edge of Visibility' Natalie White, (right)

Aware of the fragile state of student’s bank accounts and the need to foster new creative talent, Genesis is proud to support Nottingham Trent university students by offering three student bursary awards; two of £500 to assist in the production of students degree show work and one to assist with an exhibition one year after graduation. This support is something that we have offered for the past five years as part of our commitment to the next generation of creative professionals.

Last week, Mark and I travelled up to Nottingham Trent University ahead of the impending degree shows to meet with third year students and look through the multitude of work that they have produced. I was particularly excited to visit Nottingham Trent as a graduate from the Photography BA course in 2011 with many happy memories of the city. Louise Clements, of Derby Quad and Format Festival, joined us to offer her expertise and opinion.

genesis student bursary - nottingham trent university

The work was dropped off and viewed singularly before a shortlist was selected for the following day.  Each body of work offered a different viewpoint and approach to the multifaceted medium of photography, a culmination of the three years each student has spent developing their practice.

The degree shows at Nottingham Trent University form a festival throughout the city (a unique tradition, started by the university in 1997), they are a celebration of photography and a steep learning curve for students on the practical issues of exhibiting work in the outside world. Each student is tasked with locating a venue (in groups or individually), preparing the space, producing a body of work, the exhibition installation, invigilation and take-down. Alongside this, an elected committee of students organises the degree shows branding, marketing and fundraising, working closely with the staff at Nottingham Trent. This is perhaps the second greatest thing about the course at Nottingham, seconded only by the students themselves – a bright, passionate selection of soon-to-be graduates.

We met with the shortlisted students on the second day with the aim of discussing individual projects and gaining further insight into the student’s practice and their motivations for creating their degree show work. The process of talking about work – often a daunting prospect – can give so much more insight into the work itself and is a real skill to hone for life post-university.

We were surprised, delighted – intrigued, but never bored. After much debate, Mark and Louise selected two students; Benjamin Swanson and Natalie White, who we look forward to working with on the production of their degree shows and will each receive £500 towards our services.

Natalie’s tranquil images at first glace appear to be simply white squares – underexposed, processed photographic paper contained by white borders. Natalie states that her work aims to instill both a sense of tranquility in the viewer and a desire to know more’, and she succeeds in doing this with very little form depicted. Her photographs, we were told had been taken of walls – spaces devoid of detail, except for the small impurities, marks and textures that are apparent only at a second glance. Natalie’s image (above) is against a grey background so that it is clearer to view.

Benjamin’s series, The Conquest of Materials’ is a study of the sculptural significance of still life photography, a presentation of photographic sculptures created with manufactured or altered materials. There are strong links to modernism and constructivism in their aesthetic whilst the metaphorical space that they represent speaks of the development of his practice and the experimentation and the failure that underpins it.

We look forward to selecting the third bursary – a year’s mentoring and £1000 towards our services for an exhibition of one graduates work next year, chosen from this year’s degree shows.

Lastly, here’s a shot taken before our trip back to London by Nottingham Trent University first year photography BA students of Louise (left), Mark (center) and Gabrielle (right).

Until next time,

Gabrielle, Mark & The Genesis Team

Preview the festival at

See more of Natalie’s work at

See more of Benjamin’s work at

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