Reflections as UrbanPhotoFest Interns

Jessie Martin & Lauren Finch

Posted on 23 Oct 2016
This time last year Jessie Martin and Lauren Finch stood squeezed behind a small bar in the basement of 71A Gallery in Shoreditch. New to the urban photography scene, they stood quietly while people flooded into the space. As exhibition goers maneuvered between each other at the Urban Photographers Association “Streetopolis” exhibition, they filled empty glasses and mingled amongst the crowd. In awe of the family UrbanPhotoFest had produced, the two new comers had no idea they were soon to be immersed in it.
 
Fast forward a year, the Photography and Urban Cultures student and graduate are working hard behind the scenes for UPF16. Between part-time jobs and higher education, one can find them sitting in Loafers cafe at Goldsmiths University tying together the loose ends for both Urban Encounters Conference and the first ever Urban Photo Village. The two have spent various hours reflecting on the festival as it winds to a close, the following paragraphs are written by the two individuals.
 
Lauren Finch: “Watching this year’s festival unfold has been the most terrifying and rewarding experience I can recall to date. As the Exhibitions Intern, I have been given this invisible VIP pass into unbelievable networks of people. I have crossed the unimaginable doorframe into Rut Blees Luxemburg’s flat, spoke about common project themes with Festival Artist Tanya Houghton and shared early morning croissants with Exhibitions Coordinator Stefano Carnelli inside empty gallery spaces. And I can say with complete belief that none of this would have happened without UPF. If someone told me I would be responsible for five of the Photo Village exhibitions when I first arrived in London, I would have laughed; it wasn’t even plausible.  Now I am responsible for 15 exhibiting artists photographs. “
 
Jessie Martin: “Starting the Photography and Urban Cultures MA at Goldsmiths last year my ambition was to engage as fully as possible with this new environment, to create a platform for working life within the field of urban photography and sociology. In the space of a year my various roles have grown and evolved; I co-developed and curated an exhibition, attended meetings with the Tate and the Urban Photographers Association, helped organise a major conference and liaised with conference speakers and artists, among many other things! Through the amazing opportunities we’ve been given and responsibilities we’ve been trusted with there are so many things I have learnt. To have a place in the festival team and be part of this international network feels exciting and full of possibility.”

Jessie and Lauren