On Thursday 20 April students from Paston Sixth Form College will be officially unveiling three new films created by them and inspired by the life and art of photographer Olive Edis.
Mary Olive Edis (1876-1955) was one of the most important photographers of the early 20th century. An exceptional portrait artist, at the height of her career she photographed the full spectrum of British society, from Norfolk fishermen and their families to prime ministers, royalty, scientists and artists. She was also the first British woman to be appointed as an official war photographer.
To mark her achievements, Paston Sixth Form College were invited by staff at Cromer Museum, Norfolk Museums Service, to create three short films about this important artist, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund as part of the larger Olive Edis project.
Over the past five months, the students have been hard at work producing the films, inspired by Olive Edis’ extraordinary life and work as a female photographer and as a pioneer of many photographic techniques.
The films look at different aspects of her career, with the first focusing on techniques and inspirations, the second film assessing achievements and the third tackling war and the creative process. Together they form a wonderful introduction to her work and a moving tribute to her as an inspiration to a new generation of image-makers.
It’s fitting that the films’ premiere will be at Cromer Museum which has just seen the opening of two permanent galleries dedicated to exploring and celebrating Edis’ life and legacy.
The project has been overseen by Paston College Film and Media tutor, Dean Mooney. The core group was made up of Film and Media students from the Enrichment Club and Drama students were heavily involved in creating a short piece that formed one of the films.
Students visited the recent Olive Edis: Fishermen & Kings exhibition at Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery to gather research and also to interview the curators. They filmed on Cromer beach with photographer and tutor Paul Greeves and managed to capture some great shots using a Victorian-style camera, inspired by Edis’ techniques and signature style of natural light and shadow to create striking portraits.
Dean Mooney, Paston College Film and Media tutor said: “The project formed part of students’ ‘enrichment’ sessions and it fitted into the curriculum really well.”
“Everything was filmed by the students themselves, 90% of what you see has been achieved by them, from start to finish- planning, researching, filming, interviewing and editing. They have all learned something about Olive Edis, as they hadn’t heard of her before, and have been really interested in the project as a whole”.
Now that the films are finished, Business students at the college have started promoting the project through a blog they have set up: https://pastonoliveedis.wordpress.com/
The films are being shown as part of a touchscreen interactive within the new permanent galleries at Cromer Museum and will also be included in the touring exhibition The Road to Ypres which focuses on Edis’ war photography. The touring exhibition opened on 29 March at the North Norfolk District Council offices and will then head to Farnham Museum, Kings’ Lynn Town Hall, The Belfry Arts Centre, Norfolk & Norwich Millennium Library before finishing up at Sheringham Museum.
The films can also be viewed online here: http://www.paston.ac.uk/about-paston/news/olive-edis-film-project
Norfolk Museums Service Youth Engagement Officer Amy Stock said, “Paston Sixth Form College students have completely surpassed my expectations with what they have produced. The content and the quality of the films are outstanding and the feeling they give you when you watch them is quite moving. One of the best things about this project is that the young people have been able to learn about Olive Edis, her work, her life, her achievements, and respond to all of that in completely their own way. They have produced a wonderful film whilst discovering one of our prominent national figures”.
Robyn Lewellyn, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund East of England said: “When we helped to fund the original purchase of the Olive Edis archive for Cromer Museum one of our main aims was to ensure this remarkable woman and her achievements would not be forgotten. We are delighted to support this education project which has produced such a wonderful outcome – these beautiful films will introduce Olive’s work to many thousands more people as part of the Road to Ypres touring exhibition. The fact that this has involved an artistic conversation across the generations is something which Olive herself would surely have approved.”
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