From education to employment

Former Exeter College Photography Student Makes His Mark

Former Exeter College graduate, Stephen Raff, has been making waves in the photographic world with his unique and inspiring work in an unusual field of photography and winning prestigious awards too.

Stephen, a Photography FdA student from Barnstaple, is an established photographic artist working primarily with wet-plate collodion, a process derived from the roots of photography.

Using traditional wooden bellowed cameras and mixing raw chemicals to make a light-sensitive material, he makes one of a kind images on glass that offer a certain timelessness and otherworldliness.

Charmed with flaws and chemical imperfections, the finished plates exist as precious objects that provide great longevity with an archival quality.

During his second year of the Photography FdA at Exeter School of Art, Stephen was presented with an opportunity to collaborate with the Art Council funded project Alright Mate? The installation won the Judge’s Award at the PsychArt Conference 2018 in London.

Alright Mate? was an audio-visual installation that explored male mental health through presenting conversations and photographs of Exeter residents. It was a collaboration between Exeter-based playwright and mental health specialist Cally Hayes, and artist Hugh McCann, made specifically for Art Week Exeter.

Cally and Hugh recorded chats with Exeter residents about their ideas and experiences around male mental health, and then working with Stephen, produced a series of unique portraits of the participants. The original installation was on display at The Roots Foundation and social space during Exeter Art Week. Since then it has been exhibited at Wellcome Centre for Cultures and Environments for Health, in Exeter and the PsychArt Conference.

Stephen is now completing the third year of his degree at the University of Plymouth, whilst working at his own studio in North Devon.

Speaking about his experience studying at Exeter College, he said: “The class sizes and the teaching methods at Exeter College help you gain confidence in yourself and your work. The studio and darkroom facilities provide you with everything you need and staff will go above and beyond to help you out. I really don’t believe I would be achieving the things I am now had I not gone to Exeter College for the past two years.”

Stephen plans to continue to use the methods and tools learnt on his course at college to continue to develop his work as an artist, whilst building commercial links locally. His next open event at his studio will be as part of ArtTrek Open Studios in September.

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