Nationwide Degree Show: The Chris Frazer Smith Curation

  • Laura Chen
  • Emily Mitchell
  • Shamsa Anjum

The Nationwide Degree Show is a collection of work from art & design students, who's final year shows have been cancelled due to COVID19. What started as an initiative by Fresh Meet to plaster billboards across the UK with student work, has now resulted in an online collection of over 1000 submissions from over 100 universities and 17 creative disciplines. The Curation Series is a programme of student work selected by industry leaders, creative pioneers and trendsetters. Below you will find a selection of student work curated by multi award winning photographer, Chris Frazer Smith.

Portrait and people photographer Chris Frazer Smith was born in 1963 in the North West of England and grew up in East Anglia. He works closely with creative teams from advertising agencies, publishers, record companies and design groups. His work has been exhibited in galleries around the world including the National Portrait Gallery and The Royal Academy in London. He has been a D&AD judge and continues to mentor & lecture students both on photography and film.
Chris has been recognised with numerous international awards from organisations including:
- The prestigious Lucie International Photographer of The Year Award, The Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize,
- The BJP Portrait Of Britain, The Association of Photographers, Communication Arts, American Photography, The Portrait Salon, The British Photography Awards Portrait Prize, The British Journal of Photography, Campaign Magazine, Creative Review, The Masters Cup, Applied Arts, One Eyeland and Photo District News.

#1 - Chantelle G

The first selected piece in this curation is a portrait by photography graduate Chantelle G.

Chris writes "A striking composition, the narrative, for me, is immediate, a mother and daughter
or other family member physically bonded, their calm and confident expressions evoke a strong sense of strength, they appear to be listening and communicating with each other and showing subtle but graphic cultural identity through their jewellery and lack of wardrobe."
Chantelle G, BA Photography, Nottingham Trent University

Chantelle writes "Belizean' is a personal project, exploring dual nationality, culture heritage, family and archives. While considering maternal bond with perspective through different view points, in order to make a connection with identity."

#2 - Shuangge Song

The second piece chosen for this curation is a shot by photography graduate Shuangge Song.

Chris says "The everyday simplicity of this shot made me ask various questions, is this shot just a throw why picture that has no background story to explore, is this part of a series, where was this taken, why is it so ordinary, what is going on here? The car and the lack of house lights evoke a slight sinister narrative that drew me into this photographers work."
Shuangge Song, Photography, Canterbury Christ Church University

Shuangge Song says "This photograph is selected from my series "Another World" which I made during January to May. This particular work presents the desire of people escaping this COVID-19 situation to an alternative reality or an another world in a fictitious way."

#3 - Helena Sõõro

The third piece chosen for this curation is work by photography graduate Helena Sõõro.

Chris writes "A lovely photograph capturing a moment of peace and tranquility in a teenager. We know nothing about this boy, is he dreaming, is he thinking, is he sick, is he recovering. All those questions we must have to never judge a book by its cover. Lovely composition and depth."

Helena Sõõro, BA (Hons) Photography, Nottingham Trent University.

Helena writes "The importance of music in embracing feelings has been a widely discussed topic in various art forms, most frequently in films. This makes it a commonly thought idea: couples have “their” song. Some kind of a melody that defines them as a whole. My work is about various couples close to me and their relationship to music. I have a series of images of couples in different statuses, whether they're married and have children, are engaged, have moved in together, are a new relationship or have broken up/divorced. I have held conversations with them to find out their special song or a melody and if music plays a significant role in their lives or not. My project is called "Armastussongs" which is a hybrid word from Estonian and English language, simply meaning „love songs”, representing the couples from both cultures. Music crosses cultures, making it a potential universal language between people."

#4 - Nicole Hall

The fourth piece selected for this curation is a portrait by recent graduate Nicole Hall.

Chris tells us "A warm moment capturing a your girl growing up, reflecting on herself in a grown up way with the added humour of sticking her tongue out. This picture also has a timeless quality, partly thought the use of black and white film but also reflected in the narrative, the style of micro and the girls wardrobe. We all have been in a place where this moment has played out in our childhoods and memories."
Nicole Hall, Contemporary Art Practice, Grays School of Art

Nicole tells us "I am inspired by everyday happenings, emotions and the seemingly banal. I use film photography to investigate the Maternal experience. I place my daughter at the centre of my work exploring our relationship and my own identity in the realm of Motherhood. I believe my work is as much about my daughter as it is myself, detailing where we have been and where we are now in an autobiographical visual telling."

#5 - Jo Lauren

The fifth piece chosen for this curation is a cinematic shot by photography graduate Jo Lauren.

Chris tells us "A stunning picture that feels more like a stills frame from a film. Gorgeous colour palette, a shrining portrait of a man who feels trapped, looking for a way out of his excited home. This picture is my 1st choice from all the work I have shortlisted."
Jo Lauren, MA Photography, Norwich University of the Arts

Jo writes "The work is an investigation into how a feeling of uncertainty about the modern world can be represented through photographs depicting a journey through a semi imagined dystopian place. It explores the in between; a space between the familiar and unfamiliar, the imagined and the real, stemming from Freud’s concept of the Uncanny."

#6 - Shamsa

The sixth work selected for this curation is an embroidered portrait by photography graduate Shamsa.

Chris says "A well art directed photograph showing a Muslim woman in all her beauty. Intriging props allwoing the viewer to gaze at this women and ask questions that may not offer anwers as is so often the case in our own lives."
Shamsa, Photography BA, Nottingham Trent University.

Shamsa says "A focus on British Muslim Women, their relationship with their faith, heritage, and culture through photography and hand embroidery. My work creates a new perspective, giving an insight to the beauty of the religion through portraits of the Muslim women that make up the diversity of Britain. This body of work is set out to be educational through the creativity of reality, but also for other women like myself to connect and relate to, giving them a sense of belonging to a community that accepts them."

#7 - Chloe Darnill

The seventh piece selected for this curation is a striking portrait by photography graduate Chloe Darnill.

Chris tells us "A strong, simple, honest portrait of beautiful young woman who’s beauty is portrayed through her gaze, her attention to wardrobe, her tattoo and lack of make up to disguise her skin. There is also an ambiguity to the piece which is important part of the narrative here."
Chloe Darnill, BA Photography, Norwich University of the Arts

Chloe writes "This image of Holly belongs to a portrait series that focuses on subjects who experience or have experienced acne. The project began during my own struggles with the skin condition, when I felt isolated and a lack understanding from society. The project aims to uplift it's subjects, provide a sense of community and encourage a more normalised view of acne."

#8 - Emily Hebe Mitchell

The eighth piece chosen for this curation is an image by graduate Emily Hebe Mitchell.

Chris writes "A lovely strong bold and colourful portrait, sensitively lit and controlled to illustrate the message behind the shot centering around sustainable and eco conscious fashion."
Emily Hebe Mitchell, Norwich University of the Arts.

Emily writes "Crochet Craze' is an image which I have styled and photographed. It centres around the theme of sustainable eco conscious fashion in juxtaposition with E-commerce's fast disposable consumerism. This is shown with the handmade Crochet balaclava worn by its designer, but she is wearing a piece sourced from a mass online clothing retailer. It comments on the question: Where is fashion heading?"

#9 - Ella d'Aguilar

The ninth piece selected for this curation is a shot by graduate Ella d'Aguilar.

Chris tells us "Really well executed composition and idea that translates the narrative of Body Dysmorphic Disorder in a strong visual photograph making me want to explore this disorder to understand more about the photograph and person behind this self-portrait."
Ella d'Aguilar, Fashion Styling and Production, London College of Fashion.

Ella tells us "My project 'Hiding in Plain Sight' is a zine containing a series of self-portraits which stem from my personal experience and exploration of Body Dysmorphic Disorder. More specifically, the work aims to show the conflicting feelings of wanting to stand out from the crowd, versus the anxiety from being looked at by others causing the need to hide."

#10 - Laura Chen

The tenth work chosen for this curation is a photograph by graduate Laura Chen.

Chris says "Lovely bold, bright and vivid photograph capturing the message of personal identity and expressive freedom in a fun and animated photograph."
Laura Chen, BA Photography, Birmingham City University

Laura says "This is an image from my series Killer Queens, for which I have photographed around 40 individuals from Birmingham's (UK) LGBTQ+ and drag community. The colourful portraits celebrate and explore performance and self-expression. The work addresses current issues surrounding identity, sexuality and community spirit, and tells a strong collective story about discovery. I am fascinated by the ways in which drag artists can create endless variations of characters, in the most unique ways possible. They do this by playing with different fabrics, colours, patterns, textures, shapes and forms. With these photographs, I aim to make aware that despite that everyone is born in a specific shape and form, we have the freedom to discover new appearances and attitudes through re- invention. We are never fully formed."

#11 - Tami Aftab

The eleventh piece selected for this curation is a photograph by graduate Tami Aftab.

Chris says "A striking composition, well executed art direction of colour across the shot and the animation of the man intrigued me to ask who is he, what is he doing, is he acting, escaping, what is going on here I need to know."
Tami Aftab, BA Photography, London College of Communication

Tami writes "The Dog’s in the Car” Mum shouts from upstairs. Dad’s been running around the house, in and out of the garden thinking that he has lost Rudi, our dog. This is a common occurrence, where Dad drives back from a dog walk, forgets he’s in the car, comes in to the house and proceeds to think that he has lost him. My Dad, Tony, suffers with an illness called hydrocephalus, which causes him to build up too much fluid in the brain. 25 years ago Dad went in for an operation to put a hole in his head that would allow the liquid to flow. However, during the operation his short-term memory was accidentally damaged, permanently leaving him with a unique short term memory difficulty. The Dog’s in the Car is a collaboration between the artist and her father. Using a playful voice, the artist questions the hushed tones that can surround illness, questions on collaboration and consent, family as subject and the space between documentary and performance. Moreover, it is a story about a father - daughter relationship, and how one family deals with illness and identity."

#12 - Alberto Gonzalez

The twelfth piece chosen for this curation is a photograph by graduate Alberto Gonzalez.

Chris tells us "I was immediately drawn to the inspiration of Dali in this dream like composition. The additional inspiration drawing on the fears that the blind may have feeling lost, vulnerable and more helpless when needing to communicate has a strong resonance to someone who’s entire world of communicating is through my eyes and consequently photography."
Alberto Gonzalez, University of Chester.

Alberto says "This photograph is part of a series which aims to provide visual imagery to blind people's real narratives of their dreams previously collected by scientific psychology researchers. This picture revolves around blind people's fears of not being able to communicate with others and feeling helpless and vulnerable as a consequence of this. The photograph relies on surrealist symbols previously used by painters such as Dali."

#13 - Charlotte Elcock

The last work chosen for this curation is a cinematic piece by graduate Charlotte Elcock.

Chris says "A lovely portrait that may have accidentally captured the “sitter” two more times in the refection from the mirrors. Great use of environmental lighting to retain the atmosphere of the location. A well composed leaving the viewer asking more questions than getting answers."
Charlotte Elcock, Communication Design, The Glasgow School of Art.

Charlotte tells us "Movie Stills #2. A photo series in which each image alludes to its own narrative. The images provoke a feeling of anticipation. Tension is created as the subject seems disengaged with his or her immediate surroundings, distracted by something off camera. This plays into the imagination of the viewer and leaves the story up to the individual."
You can find more talent from all of our submissions to the Nationwide Degree Show or through the Fresh Meet profile.
You can also visit the artists of this curation in the project credits below.


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    Chris Frazer Smith Photography & Film

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