Graduate Profile: Lucy Purrington

Lucy Purrington is a Photography Graduate and is currently completing a paid Creative internship via Arts & Business Cymru, at Sherman Theatre, Cardiff.


My love of Photography

Photography is my Dad’s hobby, and I purposefully steered away from the medium attempting to find my own expressive outlet. I’ve always had an interest in art but when he passed on his old Canon 40D to me after upgrading, I fell in love with image making. The light meter was broken on this battered 40D so my first images were ‘artistic’ shall I say, and not at all technically correct. The exposures were all terrible, but they had an ethereal quality to them which I liked. I had never thought of the medium as artistic before up until that point, merely capturing a moment. This inspired a lot of playful exploration with the medium.

The Photography course at USW

Fast forward two years and I applied to USW - I had no previous photography qualifications, but I was thrilled to be accepted onto the course after showing the lecturers my portfolio.

The course provided such a wide range of topics and literature that I felt it suited my more art based photographic way of working. I draw inspiration from all sorts of sources; music, personal experience, my Dad - who I used to help in the dark room before the days of health and safety.

The fantastic visiting lectures programme that runs within the Photography department helped me to widen my tastes and understand a variety of work from photographers and creative directors. A few of my favourites to mention were Peter Kennard, Helen Sear, Harris Elliott.

The culture of cross-course development at the University was fantastic, and it was always great to get a second opinion on work. There a really supportive environment at the University - the photography students spent time mingling and connecting, usually through the collective feeling of dread for impending deadlines. But it was fun - we’d order pizza, bring a personal laptop in and watch movies as we edited.

Returning to University as a ‘mature’ student

USW provides the full university experience, especially in Wales’ capitol city, but as a mature student, my priorities were different from when I was younger, and as such, I feel that I had a bit of a different experience to the rest of my cohort. I was there purely to learn and grab every opportunity and experience that I could. My lecturers saw this, and were confident in supporting my ambition to organise my class’ graduate degree show. This included the marketing, fundraising and the administrative duties that producing the show entailed, skills which have been invaluable for my role at Sherman Theatre.

I was particularly worried about going back to university as I have dyslexia. I had never done well academically; receiving very poor A-level results when I was younger. It goes to show what supportive and encouraging tutors can do – I graduated with a First Degree Honours and produced work that I was really proud of that has gone on to show at art exhibitions in and outside of Wales. I feel indebted that my lecturers gave me a chance.

My role at Sherman Theatre

My role at Sherman Theatre is hugely varied, but firmly rooted in fundraising. There is an insufficient number of skilled professional arts fundraisers in Wales supporting arts organisations and creative provisions, so the Creative Internship Programme from Arts & Business Cymru is aimed at tackling this. 

My day to day duties include researching Trusts and Foundations, supporting event co-ordination, practicing writing my own applications for funding and learning about Sherman Theatre and the fantastic work it does. My role requires an in-depth understanding of all departments and the operational functioning of the theatre is key. One of the perks of the job is attending private read-throughs of scripts. It’s fascinating to see the development from start through to dress rehearsals and the final production on stage.

I’m also utilising my photography skills whilst on the placement, volunteering to support the Sherman 5 project, which is a significant outreach and inclusivity programme aiming to support those that may face barriers to attendance. I hope to produce a legacy photographic project documenting the scheme’s successes and the experience members have of attending Sherman Theatre. It’ll provide a new means of communication for members and an opportunity for the coordinators to visually see the experiences of the individuals it strives to support.

The future

I’m currently continuing my photographic and video projects, which I’ve already seen success with after recently featuring in two local art exhibitions and in magazines, both online and in print.

Once my internship has ended, I feel that the experience I would have gained here at Sherman Theatre will aid me in making my own applications for funding or on behalf of other arts projects.