Disability Talks

From exploring my project further, I have developed a polished project that still has the possibility to be expanded in the future. I have submitted a portfolio which sophistically explores the lives of disabled people, including myself and effectively challenges public perceptions of disability. The final statement is shown below.

Disability is a social construct that renders the position of the disabled person as lesser than that of an able-bodied person. This requires change; to induce change, we need understanding.

The majority of experiences of disability or life limiting conditions are ignored by the wider community; whether this is because the conditions are largely invisible or whether wider society has chosen to not consider certain conditions as worthy of regard. As a result, sections of the disabled community experience discrimination, ranging from subtle to the outright aggressive. Being disabled includes a horizon of having to explain, declare and justify your otherness and need for consideration.

This work portrays some of the societal complexity of the lived experience of invisible disability.

Futures Festival – Teaching

I attended a workshop organised by the university in order to learn about how to access teaching. The talk showed the two main routes that would be possible to take after graduation; a PGCE which is a years course with a short placement or the school direct route which is predominantly placement based. As the university does not currently offer the PGCE in Art and Design (the specialism needed to be able to teach photography), then the advised route into gaining my QTS (Qualified Teacher Status) would be to take the school direct route.

The school direct route is again a years course where the student trains in the classroom based in a working school. This would provide invaluable experience and allow to be tutored by those who have taught for many years. This is something that I wish to do, however I feel as though I need to expand my art, design and photography portfolio first.

The requirements of the course, which is to be applied for through UCAS, is to have two weeks of classroom experience, (which can be achieved through supply teaching), a portfolio, a police background check or DBS, and to pass an English and maths test. As teaching is something that I have only begun to think about recently, to fit in all of this before applying is impossible. This is why I am going to do this over the next academic year, whilst also completing my MA in photography.

I also received information in the same seminar regarding the careers I can access with both a degree and masters in photography and a QTS – the list was extensive. The three that stood out the most were to teach in a school or college, to work with young offenders and to work with the council. Although the QTS only seemed to cover schools, the doors that it can open are vast. Gaining a QTS will also give valuable life experience if nothing else, and advance my skills and knowledge base.

To complete the QTS is next on my to do list after completing my photography MA. Although different from being a full time photographer, this is sensible in allowing myself to live comfortably and also practise my photography part time.

Interim Crit

Following the introduction of the FMP and the proposal for the project I intended to explore disability in a multitude of ways, both theoretically and photographically. The project initially intended to explore the position of the disabled person in society. The concept was influenced by the ongoing trials and discrimination disabled people have faced, which is shown in the media. As a disabled person myself, I encounter discrimination on a daily basis and wanted to challenge the way in which people perceive disability.

The interim crit is a formative assessment, meaning that the assessment is not formally marked, and is given verbally. This means that the help and advice given will help guide us to our final outcome.

From my research and my photographic practice carried out throughout this project, the project began to fall into four parts; the discrimination landscapes, the people, their voice and the evidence. Initially, this combination would explore the position of the disabled person and how others treat them. This would be shown with a landscape where they face the most discrimination and a selection of images taken by the participants to show what their lives are like and the unseen challenges. Unfortunately, at this stage I struggled to find people willing to participate.

Following the feedback and evaluation from this assessment, it was highlighted that what I was trying to portray was the hidden illness and disability. This was because the majority of people speaking out about their disability had been unfairly judged because the disability was hidden. What also emerged was that I intended to say was that I wanted to give a voice to these people, to counteract the discrimination. From this, it was decided to show the people who are on the receiving end of this injustice; removing all contexts and portraying them as ‘normal’. A diary portraying the truth, from the participants, would then juxtapose this.

During this stage, I am still excited. I am passionate about changing the public view of the disabled and really feel this work will achieve this.

Redeye Mock Interview

As part of our professional development, we were required to undergo a mock interview for a job opening at the British photography firm, Redeye. Redeye is dedicated to providing advice, talks and support to emerging and established photographers in the UK. The job opening was for Assistant to Programme Coordinator.

In preparation for the interview, the Library and Student Services team provided a workshop on how to get the best out of interviews. In the workshop they discussed how we should always research the company, always draw back on previous experience, how you should act in an interview and how to answer questions to achieve the best. This workshop was helpful, however, I believe if we had had a mock of the mock interview we would have stood in better stead to achieve.

The job required someone who has a diverse skills set; someone who is a practicing photographer, good with IT, has good communication skills and has a grip on the position of the photographic industry. The workshop explored this, as well as potential questions that would arise in the interview. I have received the result of the mock interview, and received a 2:2. I have received my feedback and have been able to digest it and learn from where I went wrong. This will be valuable for the future, even if the job I am applying for is on the other end of the spectrum.

Research Presentation – Feedback

Following the success of the research presentation, I have now received the summative feedback (graded feedback). I received 80%, which is a 1st. I am really pleased with this result. The feedback given along side the mark is shown below.

“From the introductory title, Disability Talks, onwards this presentation has a clear, focused rational and delivers an interesting and personal narrative to great effect.

The motivations are clear and defined, that you wish to tackle discrimination and perceptions of the disabled people and categorize your approach to deal with issues surrounding identity politics, social media representation and the emergence of ‘Inspiration Porn’ following the Paralympic spotlight of recent ears.

You analyse rich veins of pertinent research extremely well and moreover are able to continually reference the processes and methods of photographic production that you are involved in. This synthesis between theory and practice is a strength Rachel and it is obvious that you enjoy being informed and thus providing an excellent critical footing for your project.

Rankin, Stallard and Borensztein are all evaluated and drawn to give a broad comparative context in the talk. Both Bates and Davis illustrate your deft in handling of theory as well.

Practically, you describe the collaborative process with your participants and one of the few areas to improve the presentation would be to highlight more clearly the photographic decision-making in your own work and intersperse your images with those of other artists to illustrate the rational at play. This would allow interesting dialogues to develop and may bring further opportunity for evaluation of your own personal strategies.

This too would acknowledge your own project as having valuable primary research worth.

Such were the complexities of the text that we would advise a slowing of your delivery on future occasions in life, so as to give time to enjoy the points that you are making.

Well done, Rachel.”

I am pleased with the feedback and my grades, and believe that this shows the progress that I have made during my time studying at the university. It also shows that if I can achieve that now, what will I achieve in the future.

The Hadfield Trust Creative Travel Award

The Hadfield Trust Creative Travel Award is an award scheme which is available to university students up to the value of £500, to part fund an activity or travel which will enhance learning opportunities in the final year of study. I have applied for the award in order to partially fund the trip that I will be taking to Free Range.

The process requires a submission of a form that highlights the ins and outs of the trip. The form required an outline of the trip, how this will help your future career and learning and an outline of the financial implications of the trip. Below are the explanations that I gave in response to this.

I have been invited to be a part of a group exhibition with other photography and fine art students at the University of Cumbria. The exhibition is called Free Range. This is a collective show of graduate art and design courses in the UK. The exhibition will be shown at The Old Truman Brewery, 91 Brick Lane, London, E1 6QL. The exhibition space is already paid for by the university, and will enable our work to be viewed by potential employers from the photographic industry. The exhibition will be shown from 6th July 2017 to the 10th July 2017. However, I am also required to help with the installation of the exhibition on the evening of the 5th July and dismantle and pack the exhibition on the afternoon of the 10th July and the following day. Showing work in such a well regarded establishment for graduate photographers like myself will potentially kick-start my photographic career and allow for my work to be exhibited to a larger audience. This will help build my reputation and will also allow for networking with other photographers who are working with similar subject matter.

Due to my disability, going on self-funded trips are a lot harder due to my limited mobility and constant pain, as I can’t walk from place to place. As a result, I have often missed out on going to events and exhibitions. I receive a disability benefit, however, this will not cover the extra transport I will need when I get to London. I will need transport from the station to my hotel and from my hotel to the exhibition.

This is a fantastic opportunity that could really open up my career prospects as well as giving me invaluable exhibition experience.

By participating in this event, I will gain experience in both showing work in a large exhibition and invigilating an exhibition. Also, by showing the work to a large audience, some of whom are from the photographic industry, there is potential to kick start my photographic career. I will also be showing my work alongside other likeminded people, which will provide an excellent networking opportunity and the potential to collaborate with people working on similar topics to myself.

I have been shortlisted to be interviewed for this award. The next stage of the process is to attend an interview and presentation, where I will explain the plan for the trip.

Rachel Buxton CV

Rachel Buxton

Tel: 07598939147

Email: rachelbuxtonphotography@gmail.com

Personal Profile

I am a photographer based in the Carlisle, UK. My photographic practice focuses on the portrayal of the disabled. As a disabled photographer, I believe that the perception of the disabled community needs improvement – which is what my photography aims to do. I am currently in the final year of BA (Hons) Photography at the University of Cumbria, where I have honed my skills in both digital and film photography. I am practiced at public speaking, often giving talks and demonstrations to a range of audiences on a variety of topics.


  • University of Cumbria: (2014 – Present) BA (Hons) Photography.
  • Trinity School Sixth Form: (2012 – 2014) Four A Levels A*-C including Photography and Art.
  • Richard Rose Central Academy: (2007 – 2012) 13 GCSE’s A-C including Photography, Art and English.

Employment and Experience

  • I Stand OUT: (2014 – Present) working as a photographer in a busy nightclub environment selling handmade keyrings. The job requires fast thinking, initiative and computer/camera skills.
  • Freelance Photographer: (2014 – Present) working on a commission based contracts, photographing weddings, events and retail interior. The commissions work requires me to be adaptable according to the situation. The commission work has been undertaken both with other photographer and solo.
  • 18th Carlisle Scout Group: (2010 – Present) As an Assistant Cub Scout Leader, I am required to lead and support activities that enhance the lives of the young people in our care. I have gained leadership skills, communication skills and organizational skills from my role with the scouting organization.
  • Cumbria’s Museum of Military Life: (2016) I volunteered at the museum, initially using photography to help upkeep the records. I also lead and supported school groups on trips to the museum.
  • Prism Arts: (2016) Working as a volunteer to support young adults with learning disabilities to express themselves through art and theatre.
  • Eden Valley Camera Club: (2017) I gave a talk based on my photographic projects and practice.


  • Photography
  • Art
  • Scouting
  • Exploring in the lake district
  • Working with people to achieve goals
  • Photographic and Art theory



Marion Proudfoot

Julie Wooding

(Contact details available on request)

Futures Festival – Job Fair

When exploring ideas of what to pursue post graduation, financial implications are the initial concern. I attended the job fair, where potential employers advertised potential agency work and summer work. As I intend to explore both a Photography MA and gaining a QTS, I spoke to a number of teaching agencies that promoted summer work and agency work. I also spoke to a company working in the photographic industry, as this is a potential career option. The following blog will explore the pros and cons of all of the information gained at this opportunity.

Cumbria Teaching Agency

Cumbria Teaching Agency offers temporary long and short-term cover to Nurseries, Primary Schools, Secondary Schools, Pupil Referral Units, Special Educational Needs School, and Children’s Residential Care Homes. The agency is interested in hiring those both qualified and unqualified, as this will provide them with staff and allow for the gaining of experience whilst training (2 weeks of classroom experience is necessary to allow for entry on most courses.) The agency also advertises for staff to cover care and administrative roles.

Camp Cumbria is residential camp which offers a range of activities for children aged 4 to 15. The camp has two bases; one in Cockermouth and the other in Coniston. The agency have paid opportunities to help run activities and support the children. I spoke with Danielle Carlton, the Training and Recruitment Manager, who suggested that the camp would be good experience and also a way of financially supporting myself before I start either the Photography MA or a course to gain QTS.

I will be taking steps to contact the company in the coming weeks to organise some temporary teaching roles, as well as to apply to Camp Cumbria. I will do this through http://www.cumbriateaching.co.uk.

Stephen Rowell Photography

Stephen Rowell Photography is a local commercial photographer offering bespoke wedding packages tailored to your particular wants and needs. Rowell’s website can be found here: https://www.stephenrowellphotography.co.uk/.

When attending events, functions and wedding fairs, Rowell described the importance of displaying everything that the customer would want to know; what previous work has been undertaken, how are the photographs presented and what camera kit you use. He highlighted that once the customer is interested in what you do, then they will most likely be willing to pay for your services.

Although wedding photography is not my particular area of interest, speaking with Rowell gave me an insight into the dedication and focus needed to become a commercial wedding photographer. However, the same presentation of work and business is what would be necessary if I was to display my work in a commercially based setting.


Inspira also pitched at the careers fair, offering the opportunity for summer work. Inspira are partners in running a nation wide residential course for school leavers, The National Citizen Service, giving them experience in team-working, independent living and working within the community. As a school leaver, I attended this programme and found it extremely helpful, both in allowing for some free time post exams and learning new skills. Whilst I participated in this programme, I found that the support from the leaders allowed the experience to jump to another level. There is an opportunity to become a leader in this programme and see it from another perspective. This would allow me to build confidence in preparation for teacher training and also to build up my skills in my CV.

Enterprise Rent-a-Car

Steering away from photography, there are a large amount of companies offering graduate schemes. If I wanted to take a break from photography, then getting a job through a graduate scheme would be sensible. Enterprise offers a graduate scheme, where you enter the company as a trainee manager and work up to becoming a manager. Although this offer seems attractive, I wish to pursue photography further.

NXT – Unique Recruitment Solutions

Signing up for an agency is also a possibly post graduation, as it allows a vast spectrum of jobs, which will then allow for a more experience. NXT are an agency which take on all kinds of staff to cover jobs; commercial, engineering, manufacturing, industrial and hospitality. The company offers long and short term solutions to employment for companies, which means that sometimes the opportunities won’t provide financial stability in the long run, which is important if I want to pursue a career in photography.

System People

System People offer a similar package to Cumbria Teaching Agency, however, they require all staff on the books to have the QTS. System People work by offering a range of full time and cover positions, depending on what suites you. This agency would potentially be very useful after gaining my QTS. I am in the process of organising a meeting to see what else they can offer. Watch this space!

Choose Cumbria

Choose Cumbria are another firm that offers job advertisements and information based on employment in the Cumbria area. As I am from the area, it is my personal preference to stay in the area. However, the jobs and opportunities do not link with my future career plans.

Old Fire Station Carlisle

The Old Fire Station is a hub of artistic activity ranging from performing arts, to contemporary art, to photography. As I draw nearer to graduating and displaying my work on my own, the Old Fire Station accepts proposals for exhibitions in the space. This is something that I am interested in doing, post graduation. Watch this space, more details to come!


Overall, the careers fair was interesting and helped broaden my employment horizon! Graduating now seems less daunting, and I will definitely be looking into signing up to some agencies post graduation and look further into summer employment.

University of Cumbria’s Future Festival 2017

The Careers and Employability Service organised an event where a number of talks and sessions were available to provide information and guidance in relation to further study and careers. There are a multitude of career paths and ways and means of achieving them, however, one must be proactive in creating this: allowing for fewer pitfalls.

Networking was brought to the forefront of the event as it can allow for the support network around you to strengthen, opening new doors to new opportunities. The event showcased a range of different agencies with offers of advice and future job prospects. The chosen career path is to embark on the Photography MA and then train to gain QTS (Qualified Teacher Status). This would then allow myself to teach photography at a higher level and also have some flexibility with the types of jobs that are accessible with the qualifications.

The following posts will explore the information given both through leaflets and through the talks. I will explore how useful the information is and the further steps that I will take based on this.

Exhibition History

In this blog post I will explore the history of the exhibition and how the context of the space can influence the meaning. As we draw closer to the final degree show, it is important to understand the historical context behind exhibitions and how this can influence and affect the decisions being made in the final exhibition.


Artwork was displayed in Palaces, whilst the aristocracy inhabited them. Before photography, to have a painting or even in the early stages of photography, to have a photograph displayed in ones home was a display of wealth, and political power. In the later stages of the 20th century, these places, such as the Louvre and Hermitage, were converted into museums and artefacts themselves. The artwork in these spaces, are often large scale and framed to show how grand a spectacle they are.


The church is also a place that is used in contemporary and ancient times to display artwork. Although primarily a place of worship, the display of work in the ancient times in particular, was a display of power and authoritarianism. The work in these spaces (much like in the Vatican) holds spiritual power and often deals with ideologies of the tiers of life. This tradition has been prominent in the Catholic culture. However, moving into the contemporary era, the spaces are now being showcased for it’s art, with the religious element following closely. Work from the time and new works are now placed in the space, giving it an array of meaning.

Cabinets and Curiosities

Cabinets and Curiosities held no formal or authoritarian status, other than over that of whom the photographs were made of. The artwork and photographs were made to intrigue, mock and educate the people on widely unseen issues. The work was often printed small scale, as it was to be transported around the streets in a cart. The work in the carts followed no set methodology, as it was based on the arbitrary nature of the viewers. The topics of the displays often changed; but were mostly taxidermies of tropical animals, specimens of unusual life forms and things that were of scientific and aesthetic research. Although this side was harmless, some people did fall subject to the judging gaze, especially those who were considered ‘freaks’ and performed in travelling circuses.


The word museum is derived from multiple languages; in Latin it means “library or study”, in Greek it means palace of study, library, museum school of art and poetry” and “a seat or shrine of muses”. This ideology of learning associated with the founding of the museum formed the grounding for their purpose. Artefacts and artwork were beginning to be shown before the 16th century in British Libraries. This coupling of the physical object and the written word was interesting, showing that it can aid learning. In the 17th century, there was no real formal organisation of the objects, as it was considered a more formal collection of curiosities. In the 19th and 20th century, the building was now more accessible to the wider public, and housed materials of an educational and cultural purpose. In the contemporary era, there is now less emphasis on the space/building which work is displayed in; more so how the work is best curated.


Moving into the contemporary era, the gallery is a space whereby artwork and photography is shown. Galleries are either stand on their own, or work in partnership with a museum/other institution. They work in one of two ways; either being publically owned and therefore working as a non profit organisation, or they are privately owned and display work purely for financial gain. Some galleries, especially those who are run by artist collectives, work mostly in the non-profit sector. Where as those working and displaying in vanity galleries, are in that area for financial gain.

Contemporary Galleries

Contemporary galleries have similar priorities much like the original galleries. However, the space is less important in some instances, where as the space is very conservative and conventional in others. The contemporary gallery is still classed as something that is highly authoritarian, as the showcase is carefully curated in order to control the way the work is seen. Because of this, the contemporary gallery can be considered something that is highly self-conscious, often dealing with debates surrounding aesthetics, social context, economics and political dimensions.

Other Areas of Display

In today’s age, art and photography can be displayed and exhibited in most places. As technology and printing has advanced, we can now display work in retail environments, billboards, through community projects, in converted buildings and many more.


As the topic of my Final Major Project is disability, the exhibiting of my photography will be far from conventional. As the disabled body has been largely rejected in the conventional portrait, the way in which I display the work will be breaking conventions. The disabled body is something that has just started to enter social media, advertising and gallery spaces, however, their representation still needs improved. This is something that will be explored in future blog posts.