I trained originally as a photojournalist and have worked for newspapers and magazines including the Northamptonshire Evening Chronicle and Sunderland Echo. I decided to develop my photography practice further by applying for MA Photography at the University of Sunderland as it has an excellent reputation.
I enjoyed everything about the course even though I found it hard at first to get to grips with academic language and different ways of approaching my writing and photography. It pushed my boundaries and made me think much more about what I wanted to achieve and how to go about it.
There are excellent darkroom facilities for both black and white and colour photography (one of the few remaining in the country) and there is a large range of studio and camera equipment, modern digital facilities and helpful technicians.
I also enjoyed the city. Sunderland has a beautiful coastline with amazing golden beaches and is only a short train ride to many other places of interest. The National Glass Centre, Museum and Winter Gardens and the Stadium of Light are right on the doorstep.
All the staff are extremely supportive and encourage you to explore new ways of seeing, both theoretically and practically. I was always able to approach them for help or even just a friendly chat. There were also lots of interesting and informative visiting speakers such as well known photographers, curators and artists.
I really enjoyed the final module, which included preparing a body of work to show at the MA exhibition in the Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art. It was exciting and challenging to be able to present my work for exhibition and also because I was able, in a small way, to realise my intentions of visualising certain aspects of the illness M.E. and make more people aware of the limitations it imposes upon sufferers and their families.
I am now in my final year of a PhD Photography at Sunderland where I have continued to focus on the visual representation of M.E. It has been an amazing and rewarding experience, despite all the hard work! But, I could not have got this far without the support and belief of the amazing staff at the University, so I would encourage anyone thinking about studying photography here to apply as they will not be disappointed.”