Exhibition puts natural world under the scientific lens

21 May 2015 17:04:07.860

PA 76/15

The natural world comes under scrutiny in an exhibition of work by students taking a unique biological and photography imaging masters degree at The University of Nottingham.

The Biological Photography and Imaging Msc, run by the School of Life Sciences, is presenting CASE Studies – the Brian Case Memorial Exhibition at the Surface Gallery in Nottingham from the 25 May to the 3 June.

The course was launched 15 years ago by the late Professor Brian Case and current Director of Photography David McMahon, the Msc Biological Photography & Imaging course is a one of a kind science based visual arts course in the UK. It provides students of science based courses access to the skills and creative training to bring science to mass audiences through visual communication. Teaching a core skill set in photography, videography, microscopy, design and communication.

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David McMahon said: “The course is unique in that it delivers a wide range of practical skills in photography, videography, microscopy, design and business to people from a scientific background that want to branch out into other industries and career paths. It was established to allow people with a scientific knowledge base the opportunity to develop skills that would allow them to communicate this knowledge to a wider audience. Over the 15 years the course has been running we have had students graduate and go on to work for companies like the BBC, National Geographic, Sky, Nature Magazine and many more, including a lot of students that now have successful careers as freelance image makers.” 

Opening up career opportunities

The inter-disciplinary approach has enabled students to find employment in a range of professional fields including scientific research, wildlife photography, wildlife filming, conservation, interpretation, medical imaging, working with production companies, creating their own businesses, image libraries.

The postgraduate photographic exhibition of our natural world is explored through the themes of time, shape, abstract and colour. Thirteen students will be presenting four photographic works each based upon individual interpretation of these themes.

Helping to promote wildlife conservation and protection – a case study

In the 1980’s all rhinos in Uganda were poached to extinction. The Rhino Fund Uganda was established in 1997 and the first rhinos were reintroduced in 2005. Alex Wilkinson spent four days in late February filming the darting and microchipping of Uganda’s only wild rhinos – just 15 in all. Some of his video footage is the only high quality footage of this subject in the world, making it extremely rare and important to share.

Alex, who graduated last year, said: “The value of rhino horn has now exceeded gold, even though it holds many characteristics similar to a human fingernail including some of the same proteins. Due to the innate risk posed by poachers these rhinos are currently under 24/7 armed guard, but to help protect the rhinos further the work undertaken in this video was carried out.”

The project was funded by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF), and was filmed, edited and produced solely by Alex for Rhino Fund Uganda to help ensure the success of the project. 

His video can be viewed here and photographs of the rhinos can be seen on his wildlife website.

Alex said: “Without the course I have no doubt at all that I would not have had the opportunity to film this rhino project and while it was the hardest and most intense project of my life, it will hopefully provide me with a stepping stone in my career as well as giving me an opportunity only a handful of individuals in the entire world can say they have ever been part of.

“I am currently in the process of stocking my book on chimpanzees (my summer project) in Twycross zoo. I now solely operate all the photography and videography for the National Watersports Centre, as well as undertaking freelance commissions for The University of Nottingham both photography and videography.”

His summer project investigated chimpanzees and the human impact on them. A book has been produced on this work which will be sold at Twycross.

The forthcoming exhibition of student work is at The Surface Gallery, 16 Southwell Road, Nottingham, NG1 1DL.

Images available on request.

Follow the students on Twitter for up to date information. 

Story credits

More information is available from David McMahon in the School of Life Sciences at The University of Nottingham on +44 (0)115 9513 201, david.mcmahon@nottingham.ac.uk
Lindsay Brooke

Lindsay Brooke - Media Relations Manager

Email: lindsay.brooke@nottingham.ac.uk Phone: +44 (0)115 951 5751 Location: University Park

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