England’s New Lenses: Commissions

Four photographers have been selected for PAID commissions using English Heritage sites as inspiration to create new photographic work exploring alternative narratives and new voices of England.

Find out more about them and the upcoming work below!

Man sat in a cafe alone

Last year we ran an open call for artists aged between 18 and 25 with our partners Photoworks, with the brief of making new work that explores ‘untold heritage’ and what heritage means to young people today.

We are excited to share the news that four artists have now been chosen to realise these special commissions this Spring!

The artists – Kemka Ajoku, Abena Appiah, Megan Dalton and Mia Parker-Tang – will create photography commissions at a range of English Heritage sites across the country, from the border with Scotland to the Cornish coast. 

The successful commissions were chosen by a panel of judges including artist Mahtab Hussain and Stuart Lawrence of the Steven Lawrence Day Foundation as well as Shoair Mavlian and Julia Bunneman, Director and Curator, Photoworks and Dr Dominique Bouchard, Head of Learning and Interpretation, English Heritage. 

We can now share more about the selected artists, what the judges had to say, and the commission project. So keep reading for more.

Headshot of Megan Dalton
ENL Kemka Headshot
ENL Mia Headshot
Photo of small boy looking out to sea

What our judges had to say

“The work of all four artists captures a mood and feeling within the younger generation about ‘Englishness’ which I am excited to see unfold in their new bodies of work.”

Shoair Mavlian, Director, Photoworks


“Across more than 400 of the country’s most important historic places, English Heritage’s sites have been offering inspiration to artists for more than 6,000 years. Now, we are excited to get a new perspective on these places through the lenses of these exciting young artists. I can’t wait to see how they use their creative energy to engage the next generation with the stories they have to tell.”

Dr Dominique Bouchard, Head of Learning and Interpretation at English Heritage


“I am honoured to be a part of this initiative. Photoworks, Shout Out Loud and the Heritage Lottery Fund are offering a great opportunity for young photographers who are starting off in their careers to secure a paid residency and exhibition opportunity. I think it is a fantastic way to help them, through knowledge gained and publicity. An opportunity like this is priceless!” 

Stuart Lawrence, of the Stephen Lawrence Day Foundation

What the residency will entail...

Stage 1 - Research and development of a new body of artwork

You will be afforded behind the scenes access to English Heritage sites, collections, stores and offices as needed.

You will have access to site staff, historians, curators, conservators or gardeners (subject to availability/arrangement & facilitated by the Photoworks team) to support exploration of your chosen site, its history and collections.

Photoworks will match you with a mentor who will support you over two days, as well as receiving ongoing curatorial advice from the Photoworks team.

Physical access to staff and sites will depend on logistics and Covid-19 status/guidance.

Stage 2 - Production of a new body of work

The work will be inspired by, and created as a result of direct engagement with an English Heritage site (or sites) of your choice. The work must connect directly to your chosen site(s), and engage with project themes through site-specific histories and stories.

Although a list of sites where there are lesser-known stories to be explored is included below, we welcome proposals connected to any English Heritage site(s) and decisions will be based on the quality of the proposal.

Artists will not be required to live close to, or stay for extended periods at their chosen site, but will need to make repeat visits to the site. The number and duration of visits will be determined by need and budget restrictions. As such we strongly recommend taking your travel distance from a site into consideration when developing your proposal.

Stage 3 - Sharing your photography

We want to make sure your work has an audience, and that people have the opportunity to engage with your photography.

There will be an Instagram takeover of English Heritage’s Shout Out Loud account. Further use and sharing of the work by project partners, English Heritage and Photoworks, will be agreed at the beginning of the residency.

We hope to display new work created throughout England’s New Lenses to the public at one or more relevant English Heritage sites. This is yet to be confirmed.

Each artist will participate/feature in a short film about their work (to be confirmed) that will be shown at the exhibition venue and circulated on English Heritage, Shout Out Loud and Photoworks websites.

Stage 4 - Participation in a public programme

Following the creation of the work, we will be running public engagement events which may be virtual, or face to face, depending on Covid 19 restrictions.

This will include workshops with young people in 2021 (dates to be decided), where attendees will get to hear about the English Heritage site(s) you have been exploring and how you developed your response, supported by an experienced artist facilitator.

There will potentially be further opportunities to attend launches and other events where you may be asked to talk about your experience.

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