100 Years Of Photography At Newport


January 18, 2012  by admin

A Century Of History

2012 marked 100 years since photography was first taught at the University.

In 1912, the Head of the School of Art, then part of Newport Technical Institute, William Bush, oversaw the introduction of the first Photography class at Newport. A keen amateur photographer himself, William Bush had been adjudicator of the Photographic Section of three National Eisteddfodau.

It wasn’t until 1973 that the Art School’s then home at Clarence Place saw the development of photography in its modern form at Newport. Magnum Collective Photographer, David Hurn who had originally joined the University as a Guest Lecturer, set up the Diploma in Documentary Photography, ushering in one of Newport’s most famous disciplines.

Interviewed by the New Society magazine at the time of setting up the course, Hurn made it clear that the course was about far more than the technical science of photography, and instead was aimed at using the power of the lens to help deliver all aspects of professional life.

Hurn feels that a number of sociologists, archaeologists and anthropologists, for whom documentary photography could be an important tool of recording, may wish to take the course. He looks forward to a time when it will be normal for social service departments, for example, to have social workers on their staff who will be as skilled at using photography as they are in collecting statistics.
New Society, April 1973

Hurn’s extraordinary impact on the school, ensuring that photographs by his students illustrating big national news stories made it as far afield as the French press, created unique characteristics in Newport’s extensive alumni of documentary photographers. Creative skill, married with a strong understanding of the competitive pressures of photography are still attributes that Newport Photography graduates display today.

Throughout the 1980s, Documentary Photography students worked closely with those studying Graphic Design to document life in the City throughout the decade. The Newport Surveys sought to document different areas of life in Newport’s changing communities during a decade of intense social change.  The resulting work was published in an annual book and displayed within the city. At the same time, David Hurn’s good friend Keith Arnatt brought a strong sense of photographic art practice to Newport and influenced the development of the current portfolio of programmes.

Today, despite significant changes in the structure of Higher Education in Gwent, from the merger of the College of Art with Caerleon College and Gwent College of Technology in the 1970s, to the gaining of University status in 2004, photography has maintained a strong role at the heart of the University’s work. Documentary Photography, Photographic Art and Photography for Fashion and Advertising courses continue to attract students from across the world. From Associated Press photographer and Newport Graduate, Matt Dunham’s striking image of Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall, caught up in the aftermath of the London riots to last years collaboration with the Welsh Rugby Union to create a permanent display of images in the Millennium Stadium, even after a century, photography at Newport is continuing to document the rich tapestry of life.

Since the merger of the University of Wales, Newport and University of Glamorgan in 2013, forming the University of South Wales, photography is now based at the ATRiuM, Cardiff Campus. This is an exciting move for photography, which will now exist alongside the rest of the creative courses within USW, in the Faculty of Creative Industries.