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Arts University Plymouth students capture Local Heroes for Wildlife

Pre-Degree Photography students from Arts University Plymouth have championed ‘Local Heroes for Wildlife’ from the region as part of a live brief in collaboration with Green Minds Plymouth, photographing people from the region who act as heroes for wildlife. The final images were publicly exhibited in July in the city centre at 107 Cornwall Street, as part of Plymouth Culture and Plymouth City Council’s Meanwhile Use initiative to fill vacant spaces with cultural projects.

The Local Heroes project is part of Arts University Plymouth’s partnership with the Green Minds project, which aims to put nature at the heart of decision-making and inspire a new wave of citywide investment in nature-based solutions, supported by project partners Real Ideas and Plymouth City Council. 

Throughout Plymouth and the surrounding areas, local people and groups are working together to enhance wildlife and biodiversity. A-Level-equivalent Level 3 Extended Diploma in Creative Practice: Photography students from Arts University Plymouth were briefed to shoot a photographic series of images documenting the wide range of community projects that Green Minds are involved in. These images were collated to create photo essays highlighting how health and wellbeing are being boosted through a shared connection to nature, covering activities including planting, pollenising and performance.

Students Phoebe Perrin, Mitchell Smith, Parker Jones, Cameron Portwood and Josh Goshawk photographed Pollenize, a pollinator conservation CIC based in Plymouth that combines community rewilding with scientific research to protect pollinating insects. Pollenize have set up a network of community beehive sites with native honey bees and their work includes encouraging children across Plymouth to sow wildflower seeds and raise awareness of pollinator decline. They said: “We were so impressed with the professionalism and enthusiasm of the Arts University Plymouth students, and welcomed the opportunity for us to share our work with a new audience.”

Snapdragons photographed by Emily Widdows, Millie Evans and Callum Grimes Plymouth

Keyham Green Places Community Centre is situated at the heart of the Keyham community, surrounded by its own gardens and horticultural growing area. The community centre is home to the Keyham Krafties community craft club. Students Oscar Rowe, Rosie Timmis, Ivory Francis and Izzie Tibbles were tasked with capturing the work of volunteers from Keyham Crafties, some of whom collaborated with Arts University Plymouth students earlier in the year on a knitting and crafting project.  

For 17-year-old Rosie Timmis, from Kinsgbridge, ‘Local Heroes for Wildlife’ was her first professional brief. Rosie said: “I really enjoyed meeting the needs of the client on this project, forcing me to do something that was well out of my comfort zone. It was also lovely to get to see the area of land that they have in Keyham. The projects that they do there are so important, allowing children to take part in opportunities that they might not have access or support to.”

Stiltskin Theatre Company weaves together theatre and storytelling, captivating the imagination of children and families at the Soapbox Children’s Theatre in Devonport Park. Green Minds has previously helped Stiltskin with funding to enrich the Spellbound Community Art Garden. Olivia Lee and Daisy Jarrett photographed their ‘Pirates of the Imagination’ show. Founders Jacqueline and Iain love working with talented students, saying, “Arts University Plymouth is always very supportive of our work and the photographs produced have given us some great images to use for publicity”.

When the final photos were exhibited in the city centre, one team of students was chosen as having best met the client-brief and was awarded Amazon vouchers for their winning photographs.

The overall winners however were 17-year-old Emily Widdows from Yelverton, 17-year-old Millie Evans from Exeter, and Callum Grimes from Plymouth, who photographed local community group Snapdragons Plymouth CIC. Based in Victoria Park, Snapdragons have revitalised the neglected bowling green along with other previously unloved buildings. The venue is now home to a wide range of other projects, including an alternative library, Plymouth Red Tent, Plymouth Woodcraft Folk and a biodynamic and organic garden.  

Snapdragons’ organisers praised the group that photographed their work saying: “The students were really friendly and approachable. They worked well with all ages and managed to get some amazing shots without making things feel awkward. We’d love to do it again! I hope the Green Minds project can find a way of continuing far into the future, as it really is providing a valuable resource.”

Tobie Loates, Subject Leader for Arts University Plymouth’s Extended Diploma in Photography said: “The students ended up creating a fantastic set of images to be used for commercial publicity for the clients, whilst developing their awareness of the local environment, nature and sustainability. They should be proud of their work and the skills that they honed during the project.”

The UAL Level 3 Extended Diploma in Creative Practice: Photography at Arts University Plymouth allows students to discover the fundamentals of photographic image-making and gain access to some of the country’s top camera equipment and studios with expert mentorship from real-world professionals.  After completing the two-year course, students gain a Level 3 Extended Diploma – equivalent to three full A-levels, or a maximum of 168 UCAS points. A limited number of places are still available to study this September at Palace Court, Arts University Plymouth’s dedicated city-centre campus for Pre-Degree students aged 16 to 19.

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