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Graduate shortlisted for the world’s longest-running photographic exhibition

Megan Selway graduated from BA (Hons) Photography at Arts University Plymouth in 2023 with First Class Honours

Megan Selway, a First Class BA (Hons) Photography graduate from Arts University Plymouth, has been shortlisted in the Royal Photographic Society’s International Photography Exhibition 165, the world’s longest-running contemporary photographic exhibition.

Standing out from a pool of over 5,800 entrants, Megan’s shortlisted work puts her in the top 416 photographers from over 40 countries, with the top 100 images to be unveiled in September.

The International Photography Exhibition presents a unique opportunity to exhibit in a group exhibition held at The Royal Photographic Society in Bristol UK, as well as in other nationwide venues, alongside a prize fund to support future photographic projects. Exhibition selection is anonymous throughout, including the award winners, with a changing guest selection panel for each edition, resulting in a unique celebration of photography today.

Originally from Somerset, Megan’s personal and emotionally charged work caught the eyes of the judges with her final major project, ‘The Way Starlings Move’, a visual exploration of themes of grief. Loss has many faces and occurs under many circumstances, but for Megan, the work surrounds the loss of her father who left when she was nine and never contacted her again. After 11 years of absence, Megan is determined to address her grief and move forward in life with a sense of healing.

21-year-old Megan said, “Most of my projects have been inspired by personal or close family stories. I find this to be the most inspiring thing for my work, as it allows me to deal with the subjects in a method that I find comfortable and enjoyable. I can find a space with my photography to learn and heal from the subjects that I’m exploring in my work.”

Megan said of the project, “‘The Way Starlings Move’ was a very personal project about the absence of my dad. As I worked through the narrative, I was able to develop work and create outcomes that presented my journey of addressing the grief, self healing and moving forward with deeper resolution.”

Further elevating her profile, Megan’s talent was recognised by Arts Thread at Arts University Plymouth’s Summer Shows, leading her to submit her work for the Global Design Graduate Show 2023, in collaboration with luxury fashion titan, Gucci. Megan said, “It’s great to see my graduate project reaching photographic competitions and exhibitions.”

While Megan’s work is mainly digitally-based, using a Canon 6D Mark ii camera, she also enjoys experimenting with a range of materials and techniques.

“I like to take my imagery further and experiment. Ranging from traditional methods and materials such as fabrics, screen printing and sewing to utilising digital software such as Adobe Photoshop and InDesign, by exploring different methods, it allows me to find what is most suitable when it comes to communicating my narratives within outcomes.”

Megan studied BA (Hons) Photography at Arts University Plymouth after she was drawn to the university due to the wide range of facilities. She said, “No matter what course you’re studying, there’s a huge range of facilities available to you. It allows you to explore new avenues and use other methods within your practice. Due to using a lot of fine art materials in my practice, this really interested me. The university encourages you to be as collaborative as possible, which is something I developed within my last year. It allowed me to expand my knowledge and skills and meet more people within the creative industry.”

“BA (Hons) Photography was an enjoyable, challenging and exciting course. Over the three years, I have developed within myself and within my photographic knowledge. The support from my lecturers was so helpful. Although you become very independent throughout the course, the lecturers provide you with their opinions and challenge you. This offered me the opportunity to use my own critical thinking, giving me the space to develop my work.”

“Overall, my experience at Arts University Plymouth was very positive and enjoyable, and I left feeling ready to enter the creative industry independently, prepared and excited for new opportunities.

BA (Hons) Photography at Arts University Plymouth offers the opportunities and expertise to help find success in today’s dynamic and competitive photographic industry. A limited number of Clearing places are still available on our undergraduate courses, starting as late as October 2023. More information about how to apply is available on the How to Apply page or there are opportunities to speak to expert academics and current students at the next Open Day on Saturday 23 September.

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