Two photography students at Walsall College have helped Birmingham and Solihull’s current Bench Chairman settle into his role at Birmingham Magistrates Court by taking his official portrait.
Donna Baggott’s black and white photograph of magistrate, David G Warner JP is displayed at the court alongside portraits of former chairs from the last hundred years.
A second photograph taken by student, Grace Dore also hangs in the Mr Warner’s office.
“I’m delighted with both images,” said Mr Warner. “While my official portrait had to meet formal guidelines, each student was able to bring something unique to their photographs, producing work of the highest standard.”
The portraits were from a selection of shots taken in the magistrate court library by a group of HNC Photography students. The five students were then invited back to discover which two images had been chosen.
As part of a ‘big reveal’ Donna and Grace unveiled the portraits after they were printed, framed and mounted.
“I’m quite overwhelmed by the thought that my work is being displayed in such a prominent place and potentially for the next 100 years,” said Donna. “Portraiture is my specialism so I was in my comfort zone for this project. That said, the five of us all supported each other during the photoshoot, with one of us directing the shot and someone else assisting lighting so this feels like a collaborative effort.
“It was an enjoyable, experience; one which has strengthened my career portfolio.”
Grace said: “I feel honoured that my work has been appreciated in this way. Having come into photography later on in life, I haven’t always believed in myself or my abilities. For my work to have been chosen by the Bench Chair means I can just enjoy the moment and not doubt myself.”
She continued: “My career is freelance and is very much about personal expression. Photography supports my other life passion which is poetry. I’m continuing to explore the possibilities that come to life when these art forms come together.
The photography assignment was coordinated by former visual communications student and trainee lecturer, Paulette Osei-Tutu.
She said: “I was excited to bring such a unique opportunity to the students. It was a strange ‘competition’ in the end as there was more of a team spirit than a competitive one. They all did the college and themselves proud. All of the images submitted were fantastic and I know the Chairman had a tough time choosing.
“The relationship built between the judges and the college’s photography department has been the real cherry on the top and I’m looking forward to seeing how that develops.”
The college students will now be photographing seven other magistrates/district judges over the coming months.