Photomontage – The Value of Visual Literacy

Over the course of the second semester, the first year students have been engaging in a range of visual practice that attest to the world we live in. How we see the world and the way in which the world is seen (or understood) is as much to do with the visual as it is anything else. Understanding the visual, specifically as a social, political, cultural or economic communicator is key, specifically in an age of protest. With that in mind, how do we read images or produce visual narratives. Having explored the history of photomontage, the first year’s were tasked with making their own. Some foreground text (with imagery), others used an assemblage of images to narrate a topical issue, visually, with consideration given the public sphere, social media and geo-political affairs overseas ‘and’ at home, whilst some chose to parody existing visual works, reframing public awareness campaigns to critique the contemporary political landscape of the UK.

Image and text by the students:

Erin Cooke:
My concept for this montage was to capture the main focus in our society when looking at social media, we are more interested in reading about celebrities that have no part in helping the world and instead actually using something that will impact our lives and educate us in politics. I then used all these headlines in my montage to create a message for my generation to start being more aware.


Daina Smith:

My photomontage depicts the Manchester Picadilly protesters last week, with Turkish tanks behind them on the tracks. In the foreground is a hand holding a phone, showing negative and ignorant tweets about the protest. I intended for this to reflect the important reason for these protests taking place, as well as how the general public respond to third-world problems that do not concern them personally. The protesters are disrupting transport in and out of a Manchester station to draw attention to a crucial problem in Afrin, where the Turkish are attempting to carry out an ‘ethnic cleansing’ by taking out the YPG who they believe to be terrorists due to their very left-wing views. They have essentially brought the problem onto the train tracks of Manchester, which is why the tank is here behind them and threatening them. The hand holding a phone suggests a British commuter browsing through twitter, ignorant of the protest, while the tweets show ignorance and annoyance also. They are real tweets selected from the website. This is a comment on how we as a privileged first-world society pay no attention to problems in other places in the world that do not concern us, and react to disruptive exposure of these problems with anger and ignorance.


Stephen Fisher:

In 2016, a poster for a new campaign on the UK’s transport network brought outrage to some. As the “See it. Say it. Sorted.” poster is not only racially suggestive but also has a scary resemblance to the images of the Jewish persecution propaganda used in Nazi Germany. The poster shows a suspicious looking Muslim man in the dark foreground and a white woman behind him with the caption “See it. Say it. Sorted.” To me the suggestiveness of this poster comes off entirely racist. So, in response to this poster I created a photomontage using the layout of the “See it. Say it. Sorted.” Poster, but instead filled it with my political beliefs. The antagonist Muslim man in this poster has been replaced with Theresa May, Leader of the Conservative Party and current prime minister. Based on my political beliefs, I believe that she is more dangerous than a Muslim man in a big coat. I then replaced the white women in the background with various protests that pair with my political status and a previous photomontage of Peter Kennards “War Head”. All my political beliefs montaged onto this poster as an advert for the concerns we should all have in this western world and not this racially suggestive poster created by the National Rail and Department of Transport.

The original is on the left, mine is on the right.


Free Photography Publication North II

To celebrate the launch of our third edition of NORTH, a publication of undergraduate, postgraduate and staff projects along side commissioned pieces of writing and interviews, we are making the second edition available for free download.

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To receive your free copy of Volume one simply click here and follow the download link

7 UCLan Students shortlisted for Eizo Photography awards.

Eizo awards selected 7 BA Photography students from UCLan from over 200 applicants. The 7 BA students who were selected as ‘Notable Entries’.

Here you can see images from Malgorzata Majak & Ellie Jay Heatley                                     

Other students shortlisted were the Kayleigh Hilton, Lewis Jones, Liam Warnock, Molly Cara Albin, Natalie Bishop

Šilainiai micro district – photo walk

Initiated by artist Evelina Šimkutė, the Šilainiai Project is a collaborative endeavour based around the micro district of Šilainiai on the outskirts of Kaunas. On Friday Evelina led UCLan students on a photo walk around the area, which is home to a community of over 50,000 people over 7 districts.

Built in the 80’s, the district was one of the last large scale urban settlements before the break up of the former Soviet Union. As Evelina recalls, “I grew up in Šilainiai. My family was one of the first settlers and I still remember the smell of the freshly painted floor.”

Students spent the day engaging and interpreting the area as part of their ongoing research into the city and its environs.

Transition – Preston/Kaunas

On Wednesday UCLan travel bursary students arrived in Kaunas, Lithuania for a week-long research project based around the theme of ‘transition’. Inspired by the contrasts and comparisons between the two distinct locales, both students and staff will engage with a range of activities in collaboration with Vytautas Magnus University and local artists from Kaunas.

Serving briefly as the country’s capital, Kaunas has a long and varied history as well as a being a hub for artists and photographers including the annual Kaunas Photo festival, which launched on Thursday.

Following orientation with the city, students and staff will research locations, peoples, and histories as part of a week long project culminating in research outputs and a publication.

China: Baoding to Beijing

Six Uclan students; Alistair Grimley, Molly Albin, Sam Jackson, Laura Creighton, Bryony Jones and Adam Hewitt, are on a field trip to China, stopping in Baoding and Beijing.

With a range of specialisms including photographers, film makers and one journalist, the crew are in the process of creating a film featuring the thoughts and aspirations of the students at UCLan’s school in Hebei.


The team spent 4 days in Baoding, situated in the Hebei province, where they connected with the media students at the University there.

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The documentary showcases the mutually beneficial link between the two universities, and demonstrates UCLan’s impressive international standing.

The first full day in Baoding saw introductions between the two sets of students, with individual work being discussed and shared.


2 HBU students, Yolanda and Optimus, were interviewed, and both proved to be strong characters, excited to visit the UK in the near future.

The gang were also treated to a tour of the campus, including a pretty impressive university library, and got to see the facilities available to the students there, from TV studios to Animation rooms and music facilities.



The next day involved a visit to the beautiful Lotus gardens where we heard Selena and Annie’s side of the story, both of whom seem to enjoy Hebei, but are also thankful for the opportunity to visit the UK, and see more of the world.



Since moving onto Beijing, Adam and Bryony have been busy editing the footage into a short film, while they and the other students work on their individual personal projects, working in their own specialisms, as well as helping each other to create multi-disciplinary projects.


The trip is subsidised as part of the Travel Bursary scheme at UCLan, which has allowed students across a range of courses to take advantage of the international links the University has cultivated, regardless of financial situation.

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