Our second, eagerly awaited, international photography festival returns to the West Midlands from 6 May to 7 June 2017.

After the enormous success of our first festival in 2016, our aim was to continue to offer a completely inclusive and democratic Festival. We have exceeded all of our expectations with participation from amateur, student and professional photographers, from 56 UK towns and cities, and 36 countries world-wide, in addition to offering a range of events, exhibitions, professional work experience opportunities and prestigious Festival awards.

The Festival is pleased to be able to showcase all of these fantastic images in digital and print format, across eight venues in Birmingham, Dudley and Wolverhampton, on Saturday 6 May 2017. We will also be hosting events and talks at some of our venues.

A travelling gallery exhibition, will begin at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery from 6-21 May 2017, before travelling to Wolverhampton Art Gallery from 23 May – 7 June 2017. The exhibition will showcase 30 prints, selected by our team of Festival curators and Festival Adjudicator, British artist, Richard Billingham.

For the 2017 Festival, we were delighted to invite regional photographers John Myers, Liz Hingley and Nick Hedges, to participate in our gallery exhibition, in response to our Festival theme: reclaiming our cultural landscapes.

The Festival is committed to encouraging involvement from young people, particularly those most disadvantaged, and to developing partnerships with the community. So we were pleased to commission regional photographer Carl Hopley to deliver a special project, from our collaboration with Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council-Family Solutions and St Basils young people, culminating in a joint exhibition at John Lewis Community Hub from 22 May – 7 June 2017.

For the first time, we were able to offer exciting professional work experience opportunities, including a collaboration with staff and students at Sandwell College, and professional awards for some of our gallery exhibitors. These include: a solo exhibition at Argentea Gallery, Birmingham’s newest contemporary photography gallery; an opportunity to spend the day at the studio of celebrated British portrait and fashion photographer Rankin, exclusively for a photographer aged between 18-25, a year’s membership with the prestigious Royal Photographic Society and a work experience opportunity on a photographic shoot, during 2017, with Multistory.

Prints from our one day event and travelling gallery exhibition will be auctioned by Will Farmer, Fieldings Auctioneers Ltd, to raise funds for St Basils, who work with young people aged 16-25, to prevent youth homelessness. The auction will take place at the Edwardian Tearooms, Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery on Friday 7 July from 5-8pm.

It is thanks to the generosity of all of the photographers involved, who have selflessly donated their work for this worthy cause. The Festival is supported using public funding by Arts Council England, and is sponsored by Palm Labs, Birmingham. It is also with thanks to our Festival partners, sponsors and supporters, that we are able to stage these exhibitions for the viewing public.

Maxine Watts

March 2017

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