The Bigger Picture…

Travelling across the globe, Nicola Morley has produced a series of thought-provoking photographs that capture the imagination

Photographer Nicola Morley has worked all over the world taking award-winning images that have featured in prestigious exhibitions.

Having worked in London, Switzerland and India, Nicola has returned to the Ribble Valley where she is setting up a studio and viewing room.

Her time working in India led her to be named as a finalist in the massive Australian Head-On Photo Festival, with her image featuring in the main exhibition.

Educated at St Anne’s School in Windermere, Nicola went on to study at the Cordon Bleu cookery school in London.

“I cooked for shooting parties in Scotland and went on to work as a chalet girl in Meribel, France and Canazie in Italy,” recalls Nicola, who also studied at secretarial college in Oxford.

“I was working as a secretary, but I decided to do an HNC in TV production and went on to study a BA in Philosophy and Theology.”

In her late twenties Nicola met her husband who was to go on to work in Switzerland – the couple lived there for 15 years during which time Nicola began to nurture her love of photography. She held an exhibition in Klosters and studied for an MA in Photography at the University of Westminster: “Studying at that level completely changed my view. I began to see photography as a means to tell a story – to help people understand the bigger picture. I want them to see what’s going on behind the image. It was quite a tough course to to do,” explains Nicola, who then returned to the UK splitting her time between London and Switzerland.

“When I was in London living in Chelsea I went to a tea party and met a lady who was an artist. She was brought up in India and she wanted to have an exhibition to celebrate her artwork and her time there. She asked me if I would be interested in curating the exhibition, which was to be held in aid of the Saakshar School Fund charity.”

“I jumped at the chance. In return I was able to take pictures of the children.”

Nicola recalls on the front door of the school, which was attended by youngsters from Delhi’s slums, there was a notice that read, ‘Until you spread your wings, you will have no idea how far you will fly’.

“I wanted to enable them to dream so with the help of the teachers they drew their dream job and then dressed up as someone doing their dream career,” explains Nicola.

Taking photographs of the pupils and of their drawings, Nicola’s thought-provoking images have been viewed across the globe. The first image of the series of a young girl, dreaming of becoming an artist, was the photograph that appeared at the Heads-On Festival in Australia.

“Our trip to India was really one of contrasts,” she recalls. “I was a white, middle class woman taking photographs of these young pupils who came from very deprived backgrounds. It was a tricky situation, so I was advised to conduct the project as a series of workshops, and I got the children and teachers on board. It was such an aspirational school and for me, it was a life-changing experience. The children drew some beautiful pictures.

“I had an assistant who helped me with the costumes, props and backdrops.”

Following her trip, Nicola was asked to do a series of masterclasses and workshops in Derby and Birmingham, entitled East Meets West – based on her time in India.

More recently Nicola has been shortlisted for the Royal Academy’s Summer Exhibition in London with her image, Grandma on Christmas Day – a photograph taken of her late mother Sylvia Hopwood.

Nicola explains: “Due to the virus the exhibition was postponed but we have recently had news that we can now deliver our artwork to the Academy. I’m very excited to see what comes of that!”

She has also recently been asked to take a picture of Catherine Penny the new High Sheriff of Lancashire and to take a portrait picture of Fiona Bruce, MP for Congleton, for the 209 Women Project where 209 female photographers took images of the 209 female MPs for an exhibition in the Houses of Parliament, to celebrate the centenary of women getting the vote.

Meanwhile, Nicola is focusing on her commercial photography with Pickle Pictures, a company she has set up specifically for those wanting bespoke portraiture, for family and the office, animal photography and specialist food photography.

She is also hoping to visit South Africa next year as part of her photography work and she is also currently working on a project, Winds of Change, which will form the basis of an exhibition at Towneley Hall in 2022.

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Tedd Walmsley

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