England's New Lenses

Kemka Ajoku - Gestural Greetings

A new photography exhibition showcasing fresh perspectives by young photographers on four historic sites will open at Wrest Park in Bedfordshire on 5 August. England’s New Lenses – an exhibition developed by Shout Out Loud, English Heritage’s national youth engagement programme, in partnership with Photoworks and supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund – sees the photographers respond to English Heritage sites across the country: Wrest Park in Bedfordshire, Tintagel Castle in Cornwall, Middleham Castle in Yorkshire and Hadrian’s Wall in Northumberland.

Each of the photographers challenges the definition of heritage. From castle ruins and stately homes to themes of minority communities, female representation, identity, and the environment, these alternative narratives to Englishness emerge.

At Wrest Park London-based artist Kemka Ajoku highlights the lives of Black British people living in the UK following the Windrush era. Abena Appiah, who also lives in London, explores the presence of North African Romans at Hadrian’s Wall, while in her re-telling of the War of the Roses at Middleham Castle, Yorkshire-based Megan Mechelle Dalton gives visibility to the women of the 15th century and highlights the impact of societal division both in the past and today. Finally, at Tintagel Castle in Cornwall the British-Chinese photographer Mia Parker-Tang focuses on her immediate surroundings, and the cyclical nature of time.

Their work has been brought together at English Heritage’s first outdoor exhibition at Wrest Park, set within 90 acres of landscapes with features created by some of the 18th century’s leading architects and garden designers – including Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown, William Kent and Thomas Archer.

Kirsty McCarrison English Heritage Shout Out Loud project manager said: “We wanted these young photographers to offer fresh perspectives through their creative work – we are delighted with the results and hope it will inspire people to look at our historic sites in a new light.”

Shoair Mavlian Photoworks Director said: ‘Working with early career photographers is key to Photoworks’ mission and we are thrilled to present these four new commissions, celebrating the next generation of photographers and allowing them space to share their stories and perspectives.’

Four short behind-the-scenes documentaries by filmmaker Piotr Sell that showcase the artists' journeys and provide an insight into the commissions' production, are soon to be published on Photoworks and English Heritage websites.

England New Lenses is at Wrest Park, Bedfordshire from 5 August until 31 October 2021. Entrance is free with a ticket to the site.
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