Award-winning artist Wendy McMurdo to lead Pairings

Award-winning artist Dr Wendy McMurdo has been appointed lead photographer of Pairings, an innovative arts project which celebrates the many and varied ways in which Trinity has inspired students, Fellows, staff and alumni. Pairings is part of the celebrations marking the 40th anniversary of women’s admission to Trinity.

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Dr Wendy McMurdo

Pairings offers an opportunity for those who have lived, worked or studied at Trinity to share what they find inspiring about the College as part of an art work.

Dr McMurdo, who was born and is based in Edinburgh, originally trained as a painter but while studying in New York turned to photography and on returning to the UK embraced this medium.

She said: ‘I am interested in Pairings because it’s a project that uses photography to do what it does best – tell stories.  We all have stories to tell. Those who take part in the project will work to produce a single image that provides a unique perspective on their lives at Trinity College.’

The environment around us often goes un-noticed. In Pairings, we will use photography to look more closely at our day to day lives at Trinity College. We can then share our stories with others. Pairings represents a great opportunity to reflect on a particular time in your life and to mark it in a unique way.

Each Pairing will comprise a photograph of the inspiring place, person or object at Trinity and a short explanation – in prose, poetry or formulae. The project will culminate in a public exhibition at Trinity during May Week 2017.

Dr McMurdo will lead a Pairings workshop at Trinity on Thursday 2 March to introduce the project and help participants develop their ideas. Pairings is open to all students, Fellows, staff members or alumni who wish to take part. You don’t need any photography experience and if you haven’t got a smart phone, you can borrow one.

To book a place on 2 March workshop – which takes place 3.30-5pm in the New Court meeting room (E staircase) –  please email communications@trin.cam.ac.uk

With an MA from Goldsmiths and a PhD by publication from the University of Westminster, Dr McMurdo has extensive experience of photography and working with others to visualise their goals in this medium. She said:

Taking reasonable photographs in the digital age is relatively straightforward – but choosing which memory/object/landscape to select perhaps poses a bigger challenge. This is where the workshop will really help.

I will discuss how to bring your ideas to life through photography. I’ll show examples of others who have used portrait, landscape and/or still life photography to express personal stories.

I’ll give tips on basic composition and lighting and show you how to get the very best from your photography. No previous experience is necessary, but come armed with a notepad and a smartphone or camera!

Dr McMurdo will show a series of photographs of what could be described as insignificant objects – a napkin, an envelope, a door plaque or an apple, for example – and discuss how apparently ordinary things can be fascinating when placed in context. During the workshop, she’ll discuss how to create similar effects in your own photography and how to most successfully frame your subject.

During the workshop, we will also have the opportunity to take photographs around College, using smartphones. We’ll then look at these images and discuss what works and why. Using these images as a discussion point, I’ll give some useful technical pointers for taking photographs for your Pairings submission.

clare-in-library
Dr Clare Walker Gore

Fellow in English and Pairings Project Manager, Dr Clare Walker Gore, said: ‘The workshop is open to everyone at Trinity. Even if you don’t have a clear (or any) idea of what to photograph, do come along – it’s a great opportunity to learn from an expert and try out something new.’

During subsequent visits to Trinity, Dr McMurdo will assist participants in taking their photographs with advice on how to approach different subjects – whether those are objects (still lives), places (landscapes) or people (portraits). She will also give technical advice about lighting and composition.

And for those people who are keen on Pairings but short on time, Dr McMurdo can take your Pairings image for you!

If you have any questions about the workshop or about Pairings generally, please contact Fiona Holland – fch25@cam.ac.uk or Dr Walker Gore – chw37@cam.ac.uk

Read about Trinity Sub-Librarian Sandy Paul’s Pairing.

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