Fern Hallam - Photographer

Fern found Arts Award at a low point in her life, having left school without qualifications due to anxiety and depression. "When I saw the Bronze Arts Award it was like a ray of light," says Fern, who went on to complete a Bronze and Gold Award using photography.

Fern Hallam - Photographer

Scared to go back into education after her previous experience, Arts Award tapped into Fern's interest in photography, and created a structure that eased her back into education. There were lots of great things about doing Arts Award, but she loved particularly loved exploring the galleries of Brighton and reviewing exhibitions. Reviewing different kinds of art was a challenge, but Fern reveals it was important to explore the art world and not just stick to one form. She also looked into different photographic artists, and one that stuck out was Nikola Borissov – "his work is not only stunning but he is a self-taught fashion photographer which I found very interesting.

Arts Award gave Fern the opportunity to meet a professional photographer. She had a one to one studio lighting sessions with Lynn Weddle, who was very supportive. Not only did Fern learnt a lot, but she also gained confidence in herself, "something that I had previously lost a lot of." Fern thought it was great to meet such an inspiring photographer, and loved her work, particularly the piece on dyslexia. She left the session feeling very positive and excited about planning projects.

Fern had to face some big challenges when undertaking her Arts Award; she was always trying not to let her anxiety take over and stop her moving further with her Award. She overcame these difficulties with the help of a very supportive and understanding adviser, and her new found confidence gave her the push she needed to succeed.

Fern's dedication resulted in a solo exhibition at Brighton Museum, which is the part of Arts Award she is most proud of. Whilst it was a lot of work getting everything sorted, it was very rewarding and 112 people attended on the day. Most importantly, it proved to Fern all that could accomplish: "I left school feeling like a failure, feeling like I wasn't capable of finishing anything or making my family proud. As silly as it sounds, when my family and friends turned up to see my work it gave me such a great sense of achievement."

Doing Arts Award has had a long-term impact on Fern's career and life choices. She used the skills and qualifications gained to get onto a university course – something she had always wanted to do. Unfortunately a death in the family meant she had to stop the course, however doing Arts Award gave her the confidence to apply for a job in a gallery shop, and the qualifications and skills she gained helped her to secure the role. In the future she would love to go on to teach Arts Award; as it has been such a positive in her life, she'd like to help others.


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