Shots taken: books, bars and beyond

This exhibition aims to reveal the typically misunderstood experience of University students.

Often living away from home for the first time, the transition from school student to undergraduate can be imagined as a journey from a childhood bedroom in boxes to a picture of nights out, library tables overflowing and teary calls to parents during exam season. However, this collection aims to reframe this experience as more than a balance between midweek pub crawls and 9 am lectures.

The project reflects the mundane but life-shaping experiences of student life that are often left out of shot. From acts of student activism, to intimate moments with new friends, this exhibition shows the experiences of belonging, friendship, loneliness and excitement as perhaps the most valuable aspects of education. Whilst the series only reflects the experiences of a small number of students, the insights it offers aim to provide a better understanding of what it means to be a University student in the UK today.

This project was developed as part of a programme of activities organised in collaboration with RAMM’s youth panel which was set up in November 2019 with Art Fund support. RAMM’s youth panel members worked together with local photographer Brendan Barry and RAMM’s curator of contemporary art to create an exhibition of photographs that reflect their experience of living and studying in Exeter. Through a series of hands on workshops with Brendan, the group explored aspects of identity, culture and community through the lens. Capturing complexities and challenging preconceptions the resulting images reflect the experiences of a particular group of students from a particular moment in time. All photographs were taken before the restrictions imposed by the Covid19 outbreak in March 2020 and the resulting images depict what now seems a much more carefree way of life.

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