Brunel 200 Legacy Ashlee Taylor opens her exhibition at the British Empire and Commonwealth Museum.
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Brunel Exposed

A sixth form student from Colston’s Girls’ School, Ashlee Taylor was the youngest person to be awarded funding from Brunel 200.

Ashlee created an exhibition of 20 photographs of Brunel’s sites in Bristol which aimed to interest the younger generation of today in Brunel’s work. The exhibition was shown in one of Brunel’s buildings – now the British Empire and Commonwealth Museum and formally the terminus for the Great Western Railway – from 10 March 2006.

“It has involved a lot of work outside of school but I am very pleased with the results, “ she said

“As a young person photography has been a way to explore my culture and the world around me. Doing this project has allowed me to focus on an important part of our heritage.”

The exhibition, entitled ‘Brunel Exposed’, took a contemporary look at Brunel’s work around the city. It included views of the Clifton Suspension Bridge, the ss Great Britain and Temple Meads.

Ashlee also ran workshops introducing young people to pinhole photography and digital photography, during the Easter holidays. Entitled ‘Art in a Can’ the workshops were aimed at students aged 14+. It showed them the range of techniques available to photographers and how to make their own pictures.

Ashlee said: “I think young people are interested in seeing how a pin hole camera works. It is great fun and very different from today’s digital cameras."

Colston's Girls' School - Ashlee Taylor demonstrating pinhole camera equipment.  

Colston's Girls' School - Ashlee Taylor demonstrating darkroom techniques.


Left: Ashlee Taylor demonstrating pinhole camera equipment.
Right: Ashlee Taylor demonstrating darkroom techniques.

Ashlee’s personal project journal

August 2005:
This is the first time I start to realise how big the project is, I had my first meetings with Lucy Bradley (from the education team at the Commonwealth Museum). I meet the Brunel team and am quite shocked by the expanse of the project. I wonder why they chose mine from so many applicants.

September 2005:
Met all the (other Brunel 200) artists and began to get very over-whelmed by the whole project. At the time I felt as though my work load was too great since I was studying for my A-levels at the time.

January 2006:
Felt I had not kept up and had a meeting with Lucy Bradley. After that I realised no-one understood that even though this project is very important to me, I was still studying and that took precedence. Neither my teachers nor Lucy could understand. The only people who understood were Brunel 200. Ruth Sidgwick gave constant support throughout and for that I am very grateful.

February/March 2006:
Final preparation for the event. I come down with a tremendous bug which knocks me out for a week. The pressure was on since my opening was the same date as my coursework deadline.

March 10th (opening night):
I think I should have expressed myself a bit more as I become very introverted under pressure. My photography teacher realised I had so much to do and gave me an extension. I finally got the photographs hung. I had a great response from all who attended the launch (around 50 people). It went really well and I managed to keep upbeat even though I had a raging temperature!

March 21st:
A few days on and I revisit the exhibition; I am very flattered by compliments and finally feel I have fulfilled everything asked of me.

April 7th:
‘Art in a Can’ workshop day. Disappointed by the amount of no-shows to morning session. But very pleased with afternoon attendance approx. 12 people. I learnt a lot about working with others. I enjoyed talking to others about my project and photography in general.

The project went very well. I learnt a lot about how people work and how I cope with different situations. I would definitely do a project like this again, but not whilst I was studying.


Photography: Mark Simmons.