FE me

2nd June 2006 at 01:00
Job: photographer Attended: Park Lane college, in Leeds, 1998-2000 Born: 1967 Qualifications: A-levels in photography and art history

"My photography teacher was Howard Gardiner, and for art history I had Chris Cox," says Penny, who has just won the pound;5,000 British Journal of PhotographyNikon Endframe award.

"They were fantastic teachers who had time for me and were encouraging and interested in helping to develop my work. Both had a great sense of humour and injected a fresh approach into what they were teaching, which made it feel like we were on an exciting and important journey together.

"I liked both teachers immensely and really looked forward to going to their classes. Howard Gardiner allowed me the freedom to explore creatively, and Chris Cox used humour as a highly effective learning tool.

He used to have us in stitches, giving the subject added vitality and securing it in our minds.

"I still keep in touch with Howard.

"The photography department was in an old school building at the time I was there, with the darkroom packed into a tiny space along a corridor.

"Art history was in an adjoining annexe that looked like a big hut. I now visit a much transformed and modernised site.

"My intentions for studying at Park Lane college were, as a mature student who had decided on retraining, to gain confidence and skills so that I might be accepted on to a BA degree course in photography.

"On leaving Park Lane, I was accepted on to a BA in photography at Nottingham Trent university, from where I graduated in 2003.

"I loved my time at Park Lane and look back fondly to a time of uninterrupted learning within a vibrant, positive environment.

"The whole atmosphere was one of nurture, encouragement and possibility, while also pushing you towards doing your best. Since my time there, I have begun to establish myself as a photographer and feel strongly that my experiences at Park Lane created a solid foundation from which to grow and develop pro-fessionally.

"It was a fantastic experience to be around like-minded people - both tutors and other students - who were immersed in discussing and making art.

This was the place it all began for me. A door opened and I walked through it."

Penny was talking to Shekhar Bhatia

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