Outdoor exhibition opens at Wrest Park in Bedfordshire

5 August – 31 October 2021

© Abena Appiah, Untitled, from the series, From The Maghreb, 2021

From the dramatic coastline of Cornwall to the windswept moors of northern England, four young photographers explore alternative perspectives on Englishness, heritage and identity in a new outdoor exhibition this summer. 

England’s New Lenses – an exhibition developed in partnership with Shout Out Loud, English Heritage’s national youth engagement programme, and supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, sees the photographers respond to English Heritage sites across the country. 

England’s New Lenses offers the chance for young artists to explore heritage through photography and to tell the stories that get left out of the history books.  

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 British-Chinese photographer Mia Parker-Tang focuses on her immediate surroundings, and the cyclical nature of time. 

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.  

Artists aged 18-25 were invited through an open call to submit a proposal and portfolio. The judging panel, including artist Mahtab Hussain and activist Stuart Lawrence of the Stephen Lawrence Day Foundation, selected four outstanding emerging artists with distinct visions and approaches to create new bodies of work inspired by different English Heritage sites. Over 200 applicants applied from across England for this opportunity.   

Alongside a production fee, the commission includes mentoring to help the artists to develop their practice and a portfolio of work for the commission. Each artist has been matched with a mentor whose own practice or professional experience connects with theirs. 

England’s New Lenses is part of Shout Out Loud, English Heritage’s national youth engagement programme, funded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund’s Kick The Dust programme. England’s New Lenses is an additional Kick The Dust activity funded by DCMS through the Youth Accelerator Fund.  

Shout Out Loud is one of 12 Kick the Dust projects funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Find out more about Shout Out Loud here.

These commissions are part of our ongoing programme of activity with Shout Out Loud. Previous activity includes an open call and workshop programme for 13 – 25 year olds. 

Kemka Ajoku, 22, is a portrait photographer based in London. His series ‘Finding Common Ground’ highlights the lives of Black British people, showcasing those living in the UK following the Windrush era and exploring the migration of Africans to this country. Shot at Wrest Park, to the artist, this site serves as a prime example of the imported traditions that have shaped England’s history and influenced Britain’s culture.

Abena Appiah, 23, is a London-based photographer and filmmaker. Her series ‘From The Maghreb’ re-imagines the presence of the North African Romans in this country in an attempt to highlight Africa’s connections to English history. Her work features a series of portraits presented alongside landscapes that capture the environment surrounding Hadrian’s Wall through the eyes of a North African Roman. 

Megan Mechelle Dalton, 22, is a Yorkshire-based photographer who re-tells the Wars of the Roses by reflecting on themes still present in society today. Set at Middleham Castle in Yorkshire, ‘Both Sides of the Rose’ gives visibility to the women of the 15th century and highlights the impact of societal division both in the past and today.

Mia Parker-Tang, 23, is a British-Chinese photographer whose work ‘There Lies The World’ explores her immediate surroundings and the cyclical nature of time. She focuses on her own relationship with England and a sense of shared history through the coastal location of Tintagel Castle in Cornwall. A place where time seems to have slowed down, this site gave her the perfect opportunity to explore connections between the past and present.

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