Meet the cinematographers and photographers from the Plymouth College of Art class of 2021

Aug 5, 2021

Plymouth College of Art offers dynamic creative degrees in photography, film and digital media, equipping and encouraging students to explore the craft and aesthetics of their chosen practice. Learning the skills required to compete in today’s dynamic and competitive creative industries, the Class of 2021 has produced another cohort of graduates who are making exciting, groundbreaking and innovative work.

In their 2021 Summer Shows, they celebrated the achievements of graduating students from our photography courses, BA (Hons) Photography and BA (Hons) Commercial Photography, as well as from the courses that developed into our BA (Hons) Film & Screen Arts degree, including graduates of our BA (Hons) Film and BA (Hons) Digital Media Production courses.

With a wealth of excellent photography, film and media graduates in the class of 2021, we’ve hand-picked a few who have continued to show their enthusiasm, innovation and vision over the course of their degree studies with the university. Read on to discover more about this talented next generation in film, photography and digital media.

Sonny Layton – BA (Hons) Film

Award winning filmmaker and cinematographer Sonny Layton has set himself apart during his time at Plymouth College of Art with his exemplary eye for lighting, image composition, camera movement and timing. His journey with us began almost 10 years ago when he first got involved with our Saturday Arts Club aged 11, before studying media at further education level at our dedicated Pre-Degree campus, followed by undergraduate study at our HE campus.

BA (Hons) Film & Screen Arts Lecturer, Dr Neal Kirk, said: “Each year that Sonny studied with us, he set himself a new personal challenge, from learning sound and editing, to animation, creating a short horror film and his final major project, a music video. Sonny’s graduate projects demonstrate an impressive range, each dripping with attention to detail that position Sonny as a soon-to-be-unleashed force in the creative moving image industry.”

Sonny’s low-key biographical animation of his father’s travels around Europe, ‘1977’, won the Animation award at the Royal Television Society Devon & Cornwall Student Television Awards 2021, with the judges commenting on how mesmerising and original the short was.

Sonny said: “My final project is a music video for the song ‘Shower Thoughts’ by local musician, Lil Dip. I wanted to challenge myself and have wanted to make a music video for a long time. As a result of the project, I want to continue collaborating on music videos, as well as taking on freelance work in videography and editing.”

Chloe Cox – BA (Hons) Photography

Chloe Cox’s practice aims to challenge and explore the ways in which we see the world. From deforestation to marine pollution, environmental concern lies at the heart of Chloe’s practice, with an aim to shock the viewer into deep reflection in order to fight the environmental crisis. Her final major project doesn’t deviate from these themes.

‘Plastic Bloom’ explores how turtles and other marine creatures consume the plastic and debris around them. Chloe manipulated non-recyclable plastic into the form of a jellyfish to demonstrate how this devastating mistake is made. There are believed to be 46,000 pieces of plastic in every square mile of ocean. Humans understand the difference between a plastic object and a jellyfish, but to a turtle, they can both look the same. This often leads to plastic being consumed by ocean creatures, causing devastating results.

Utilising photography, sculpture and origami methods, Chloe’s practice is interdisciplinary and uses both still life photography and large-scale installations, including the use of statistical information that highlights the horror of the current climate change crisis.

Zoe Jones – BA (Hons) Film

Director, writer and editor Zoe Jones grew up around the theatre, spending most of her youth dancing and acting, which led her to develop an interest in storytelling. London-born Zoe dedicates her energy towards developing the best ways to tell stories visually, through the medium of film. Zoe’s final film for her degree at Plymouth College of Art, ‘Untitled Musical Duet’, draws on her love of musicals and musical theatre, featuring a central character trying to talk her past self out of accepting a place at their dream university.

BA (Hons) Film & Screen Arts Lecturer, Dr Neal Kirk, said: “Zoe has perhaps the most desirable quality in the film and media industry at the moment – something unique to say, and the determination and skill to say it. During her time at Plymouth College of Art, Zoe’s work has been consistently exemplary with a creative passion for film that knows no bounds. Zoe has applied her rigorous, inquisitive, research-focused and distinctive style to excellence in screenwriting and directing and has produced an impressive body of work, including professional work for clients alongside her studies.”

Alix Barber – BA (Hons) Photography

Alix Barber is a fine art photographer whose work aims to transform and shift societal norms. Using self-portraiture to confront challenging topics such as body image and self-love, Alix is not shy about how she does so. Her work is raw and personal, combative and confrontational. Alix works predominantly with analogue processes and has nurtured an ever-growing love of developing film herself.

Her aim for her final major project was to create work that was challenging for people to view. Wanting to create a conversation through her images, Alix wants people to confront stereotypes and question them. Her work includes themes around body positivity and subverting the societal norms surrounding beauty.

Alix said: “I hope through this project that I can help others understand what it is like to be on the other side of society’s views, and help those who are on the other side, like myself, to be seen and accepted. For me, this project has been a long journey of self-acceptance and self-love, my view of myself has changed and I want those who view my work to feel this in how I’ve presented myself.”

Hannah Paige – BA (Hons) Commercial Photography

Hannah Paige is an advertising photographer with a love of colour. Hannah had a keen interest in photography before studying at Plymouth College of Art, but it was through BA  (Hons) Commercial Photography that she discovered she enjoyed pushing the boundaries of her work through a diverse range of advertising opportunities.

Her final major project focuses on sustainable and eco-friendly products, with many of the products featured coming from small UK businesses. Her green business catalogue showcases those businesses and their products as they become part of a bigger movement towards sustainability. Having created the imagery for each business and brand, Hannah continued to focus on eco-friendly alternatives, including using recycled materials for the printed catalogue as well as creating a digital version online, reducing the need to print as many copies and therefore lessening paper consumption.

From small Etsy businesses making mug coasters out of recycled wood raising money for ocean wildlife charities, and recycled fashion and homewares made from vintage fabrics, to household brand names such as Ecover and Smol, Hannah presents the sustainable products in her colourful and dynamic commercial photography.

Angus Stuart-Smith – BA (Hons) Digital Media Production

Digital media creator Angus Stuart-Smith comes from Jersey, in the Channel Islands, and during his time at Plymouth College of Art has cultivated a unique synthesis of moving image, greenscreen, practical and digital visual effects and medium- and genre-blending work. Examples of Angus’ cinematography can be seen in his collaboration with Zoe Jones on her film, ‘Untitled Musical Duet’.

BA (Hons) Film & Screen Arts Lecturer, Dr Neal Kirk, said: “Angus’ stories reflect and innovate on contemporary internet culture, resulting in a warm blend of the commercial, the asinine, the absurd, and the genuine. Angus has challenged himself in new directions each academic year, culminating in his cinematography submission for his graduate project, capturing the images and doing the digital special effects for the two very outstanding films, ‘Untitled Musical Duet’ and ‘Out’. Whether it’s quirky commercials aimed at internet savvy audiences or heartfelt coming-of-age collaborations, Angus brings his fluid navigation of contemporary digital media practice and is poised to make a unique mark on the industry.”

Rosie Hartshorn – BA (Hons) Commercial Photography

Rosie Hartshorn’s work tackles the social and cultural issues of society, with feminism at the root of a lot of her work. Her final major project follows on from a series of work photographing places where she was scared to walk alone, highlighting the privilege men have to walk alone without the same fear.

‘We Walk Together’ is a series of images of women photographed in a place that makes her feel scared to walk alone at night. Shot in the daytime to juxtapose the threat of the nighttime, the women stand in full body shots, in a way to reclaim the spaces they fear as their own. The project aims to raise awareness of the changes needed to be made by society so women can be free to walk home safely.

Rosie said, “The last three years at Plymouth College of Art have been amazing. I’ve learned so much about my discipline and who I am as a commercial photographer and as a creative individual. I would definitely recommend the college and the lovely city of Plymouth and I would highly recommend the BA (Hons) Commercial Photography degree as it offers exciting trips, opportunities to have your work reviewed by professionals in the industry and gives you a chance to use a range of equipment to expand your practical knowledge. The lecturers and technicians are amazing, pushing me out of my comfort zone to be a successful, confident photographer.”

Emma Harland – BA (Hons) Photography

Emma Harland’s work centres around engagement with the visual experience – from observing the ordinary and the overlooked, capturing ephemeral moments of beauty and calm. Interested in shapes, tones and textures, and how light can become an object when captured within the frame, Emma enjoys exploring the tactile and visual qualities inherent to different types of paper and creating a physical print is intrinsic to her practice.

Emma’s final major project ‘Noetic’ questions whether contemporary art always requires a narrative, or is there a role for art as a purely visual experience: art which resonates directly with the viewer? Noetic comes from the Greek word noesis, meaning inner wisdom, direct knowing, intuition or implicit understanding. Through the use of a muted colour palette and fine silk gauze, the minimalist arrangements seek to hold the viewer’s gaze and engender an act of calming contemplation for its own sake.

Emma said, “Starting a degree as a mature student – almost 40 years after leaving school – was a daunting prospect, but once enrolled on the BA (Hons) Photography course, it was so exciting and to have access to all the different branches of creative art and design was just the best experience. The people who work at Plymouth College of Art are all so passionate about what they do, and I felt really supported and encouraged during my time there. And oh, the library! Can I go and live in the library? Please?”

Ceri-Louise Prowse – BA (Hons) Digital Media Production

Junior video editor, videographer and 2D and 3D animator Ceri-Louise Prowse runs her own digital media freelance business, Clip Media, offering filmmaking, editing, animation and photography services, and has worked with brands including Lucozade Sport and production companies including Intense Productions on national film launches.

Ceri-Louise joined Plymouth College of Art in 2016 at our Pre-Degree campus, where she studied filmmaking at Extended Diploma level. During that time, she graduated from the BFI Film Academy, later mentoring for the BFI and being interviewed by BBC Spotlight about her experiences as a filmmaker.

BA (Hons) Film & Screen Arts Lecturer, Dr Neal Kirk, said: “Ceri has consistently excelled and shown constant improvement throughout her time at Plymouth College of Art, striving to challenge herself and acquire new skills that push her out of her comfort zone. The crowning achievement of Ceri’s ambition, determination and incredible success is her digitally-animated short film, ‘Joseph’. To achieve the heart-warming story of a robot undertaking a journey of self-discovery and finding similar individuals, Ceri taught herself proficiency in the 3D rendering software, Blender. Ceri has already landed a role in a South West-based post production house, which represents the first steps in an extremely promising career.”

Katie Watts – BA (Hons) Photography

Katie Watts views and uses photography as a tool of communication; a sense of dialect to stimulate a conversation. The process carries her through a journey of reflection and comprehension of the message she is wishing to convey. Using analogue photography, Katie allows a raw and rich narrative to be translated, as her preferred way of developing and performing her practice due to its complicated simplicity, functioning honestly and reflectively. Katie thrives on encouraging individuals to question her material, often finding herself shooting candid frames and refining them further once she has developed them. Allowing herself this freedom with a roll of film absorbs her shots with personality, yet privacy concerning her narratives. “Everything is embedded with a journey; it is how you choose to perceive that narrative that creates a story.”

Her final major project ‘lone’ is an ongoing body of work surrounding the loss of touch. Currently, our society has become familiar with a sense of solitude, isolated from the ones we’re used to holding close. This body of work explores the melancholy feeling in a diaristic manner, capturing moments of silence, craving an embrace. Absence quietly dominates this visual series, documenting still frames through a reality of distance, yet a desire for connection.

Katie said, “I have experienced first hand the effects of a loss of physical connection due to the current pandemic, and have used my art practice as a distraction from my very overpowering thoughts; it has acted as a form of therapy in some ways. Working tactically with analogue and instant film enables a raw and private narrative to be conveyed and hopefully supply comfort to others. We have all, in some way, adapted to this solitary life, but that does not mean it has been easy. I wished to document my individual struggle visually, not only to trick myself into thinking that I am coping, but to inform people that they are not alone – hence ‘lone’.”

During the final weeks of her degree, St Austell based Katie held a residency at Back Lane West in Redruth, Cornwall, where she showcased ‘lone’ to the general public.

Roxy Owen – BA (Hons) Commercial Photography

Originally from Oxford, Roxy Owen is a product photographer who specialises in still life imagery. Inspired by many different photographers and art movements, such as the Renaissance period and more recently formalism, Roxy spends lots of time composing each of her images, enjoying the process of creating real life setups. Balancing between fine art and commercial photography, Roxy is drawn to bright colours and textures, with clean lighting and lots of negative space.

Roxy’s final major project uses brightly coloured monochrome sets to showcase small products from antique shops and small businesses, aiming to show the benefits of shopping consciously at eco-friendly second hand stores. Inspired by different periods throughout history, and using a combination of wallpapers and fabrics to support this, each product gets its own moment in the limelight, which has been compiled into a minimalistic photo book, ‘Retrograde’.

Entering images from her final major project, Roxy was a finalist in the ‘Things’ category in this year’s Association of Photographers Student Awards.

Nadine Critchley – BA (Hons) Commercial Photography

Nadine Critchley is a South West based commercial photographer who grew up in Dartmoor. Relishing working with people, narrative storytelling plays a key element in her work with a focus on editorial, fashion and portrait photography. Recognising the need to build a relationship with the individual being photographed, Nadine allows that connection to speak through the image, portraying its true meaning.

Her current body of work explores the journey taken by women as they transition through the menopause, embracing sisterhood, identity and femininity. With the pandemic leading Nadine to adapt her creative response, the change led her to investigate womens’ health and wellbeing at a vulnerable age of change. Inspired by her own experiences as a woman in her forties, she leads a narrative reflecting a need for inner strength, focus and determination.

Nadine said, “Being at Plymouth College of Art has set me free, I’m far braver than I believe. I have received the most marvellous support from my tutors, cohort and learning support team, they are all a true asset to the college. I would love to continue my journey here and do a Masters in Photography, with the hopes of pursuing teaching as I’ve loved the learning process.”

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