Arriving at Heathrow airport last month, Craig and I could still hardly believe our luck that we were two of a select few art and design students who had been offered scholarships to study abroad for a few weeks! Landing in Toronto, Canada was really exciting as we anticipated what we would get up to in the upcoming weeks as honorary students at Ryerson University.
We are both photography students. Me in my final year, Craig in his first. I was to stay for only 10 days and Craig for 3 weeks, because I had to be back earlier in Nottingham to prepare for ‘Release’ – the final year photography student exhibitions at the end of May.Turns out there are a hell of a lot of things to see and do in Toronto! On top of that, we were in the city for the opening of ‘Contact’ – a huge, international photography festival taking place across the city during April and May.
We spent our first weekend finding our feet. We visited a jazz bar, walked around vintage shops, small galleries, met and spoke to many of the friendly locals, and ate the best sushi of our lives!Then on Monday morning, we had a tour of the photography department at Ryerson. The facilities were very impressive and it was fascinating to hear what the students got up to. We were shown around by the very friendly and helpful heads of department and discussed how much a full semester exchange program would be great for Trent and Ryerson students (so, fingers crossed!).
The students had actually more-or-less finished their uni year when we arrived at the end of April, but the photography students still had final, group critiques of their work before it was to be shown in the university’s ‘Maximum Exposure’ exhibition. So, we had the privilege of sitting in on these critiques and hearing all about the work the students had been producing over the past term. There was a real variation and really high standards. For example, the second year students produced a hybrid project in which they experimented with different media and usage of the photographic image.
‘Maximum Exposure’ and ‘Contact’ both had their official openings on the Friday evening, so we went along to both for an evening full of photography. Then, the next day, we went to MOCCA (Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art ) for an artist talk with Jon Rafman who’s work involved screenshots from Google street view. We also saw work by Bruce Gilden (A mutual favourite street photographer of Craig’s and mine) and some amazing portraits in Michael Wolf’s series, ‘Tokyo Compression’ (2009) amongst so many other great photography works.
The trip also gave us the opportunity to visit Niagra Falls, go to a Blue Jay’s baseball game (which Craig got an awesome shot of!), visit Toronto’s islands, visit some quirky markets, meet great people and work on our own photography projects of course!
Overall, the short but sweet scholarship gave us great experiences and inspiration. Trent has great international and European links with universities and it’s there to be made the most of, whether it’s the Erasmus/Socrates programs or one-off scholarships. I can personally say if you ever get the chance to study or work abroad- TAKE IT!
Oh, and as I write this back in the UK, Craig is still out in Toronto, so check out our blog to see what else he gets up to….
Words By Charlotte Hickmott
Photography By Charlotte Hickmott and Craig Proud