The iconic brutalist housing estate Park Hill recently hosted a special event during which the winners of the Sheffield Student Photography Competition were revealed. The evening, which featured exhibitions from renowned photographers and a screening of a film about the estate, was run by non-profit organisation Photo North, supported by Channel 4, and sponsored by Alumno, the award-winning student residence developer that renovated Park Hill’s Beton House.
The competition winner was named as Mercedes Nicholls who is studying for her A`levels and had done an interesting study with photographs and text called “Metamorphosis: the beauty of girlhood”. Mercedes will receive vouchers of her choice but more importanatly she and all the other finalists now have the attention of the Photo North organisers who will be delighted to act as their mentors as their careers progress.
The event included an exhibition by renowned British social documentary and portrait photographer Richard Davis, who also gave a talk about his career, the power of photography, and how it captures time. Davis specifically focused on brutalist architecture and the links between Park Hill, Manchester’s Hulme and the Barbican in London. “In the day to day nothing changes, but over time everything looks different,” said Davis. “Photography captures and documents the surroundings that we have forgotten.”
Esteemed photojournalist Peter Dench also displayed a selection of his work from his series A1: Britain on the Verge, and announced the competition winners alongside Channel 4 Senior Pictures Team, Carl Palmer and Jamie Honeywood, and Alumno Office Manager Rebecca Dean.
Complementing the exhibitions was a special screening of photographer Martin Gray’s poignant Park Hill Revisited. The film features portraits and interviews with construction workers who grew up in and around the estate only to find themselves, decades later, rebuilding and regenerating it. “There is something very powerful about places with personal and cultural significance,” said Gray. “Somewhere that the ghosts of the past sit alongside new experiences.”
Commenting on the event, Alumno’s David Campbell said: “Martin Gray’s glimpse of the history and many memories of Sheffield through the voices of those like Alumno involved in piecing Park Hill back together always strikes a chord. I’d like to thank Martin, Richard and Peter, and all the competition winners for contributing to a wonderful evening. We are proud sponsors of Photo North events and competitions, which is one of the many ways we contribute to the Arts and the communities adjacent to our projects, many of which display photography by the winners.”