Students at The Northern School of Art in Middlesbrough, from Ingleby Barwick and Middlesbrough, have been working on a campaign for Ageing Better Middlesbrough

Photography and interactive design students at The Northern School of Art have been enjoying first-hand experience of the world of work.

Over the past few months the budding creatives have been developing images and animations for Ageing Better Middlesbrough, a National Lottery Community Fund programme working to make the town better for its residents as they grow older.

The students, who are in the second year of UAL Extended Diploma courses in Photography and Interactive Design at The Northern School of Art’s Middlesbrough campus, were responding to a brief to produce images and designs for possible use in a campaign to get people in Middlesbrough thinking about becoming more age friendly.

Tim Leah-Adams, a Photography Lecturer at the School, said that the project has really helped to open students’ eyes to the realities of working as a professional photographer: “They were required to come up with ideas and do in-depth research and then take images and present their design concepts to Ageing Better, their client.

“It’s provided a perfect opportunity to give students a first-hand experience of how photographers actually work and Ageing Better have been great to work with.”

Photography student James Tappenden 18, from Ingleby Barwick, found the experience very useful: “I learned some valuable and transferable skills and it’s taught me how to talk and receive feedback from a client, which is an important skill in the outside world of photography. Communication is easily one of the top skills required in the field.”

James, who plans to study on the BA (Hons) Photographic Practice (with moving image) degree at The Northern School of Art’s Hartlepool campus, used the opportunity to also extend his technical skills in his chosen medium of film photography.

“Going into this process I had not shot a lot of colour film and I learnt a lot as I shot colour film with a flash which is something I’ve never attempted before.”

James explained that he focused on the theme of loneliness for carers in his campaign: “I wanted to create a small narrative between some members of my family and the fact that they care for their elders and how that can affect their own lives and create the feeling of loneliness, which I felt was a more original idea.”

17-year-old James Willan, a former Outwood Academy student from Acklam, Middlesbrough produced a stop motion animation using clay figures as the characters with a theme based on an elderly man living with dementia.

He explained: “The visuals are an abstract perspective of how dementia affects his life and emotions and sharing ways that people with the condition can get support and guidance through Ageing Better Middlesbrough.

“The live brief has helped me to gain more experience when working with clients for a project and designing for specific target audience. This has also given me more confidence for my future career as a 3D animator and I’m going on to study animation at university.”

Tom Burton, the School’s Cluster Leader for Interactive Design and Graphics, said that engaging with real clients had given the young designers the experience and confidence to go out and find work and contribute positively to the local community.

“Working with a live client has been invaluable for the students. It has allowed them to explore the commercial opportunities for animators in an ever-growing area of the UK creative industries.

“It has also helped to educate our learners on the important work of charities and the tireless efforts of campaigners such as Ageing Better Middlesbrough, to help people live better lives together.”

Rebecca Hughes, Communications and Marketing Officer at Ageing Better Middlesbrough, said: "It has been amazing to work with the photography students again this year and even better that we have interactive design students involved too.

"Giving students something creative to work on whilst they are studying is great.  The students said to me that they gained a greater respect for charitable causes, Middlesbrough becoming Age Friendly and working with older people.   

"We are looking forward to working with the students again and are planning an exhibition in the summer so all Ageing Better members can come to see their work."   

Visit the The Northern School of Art’s next open day at its further education campus in Middlesbrough on Saturday 15 June 2019.

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