Spotlight on: Hayleigh Longman

Hayleigh was one of four people to win the Redeye Talent Graduate Award last year. We caught up with her to talk about the inspiration and development of her graduation project...

"Initially, I started thinking about my life, family, and reflections of growing up. It got me thinking about my childhood home. I had a great experience and was quite an imaginative child! My hiding spaces at home were important areas for me to daydream and play. I really searched for the inspiration on how to frame my project.

Remembering exactly where they were made me suddenly curious about other children’s equivalent spaces, and the feelings they evoked in young children or adults looking back to them. I grew up in North London, however I reached out to families within Manchester through a variety of contacts and groups to gather different people for the basis of my project. 

I started by writing a letter to the people living at the address of my childhood home. My family don’t live there now so I was relying on the new tenants to be sufficiently a part of the project. With the idea of revisiting the house after several promising conversations, unfortunately they changed their minds, so I had to let go of the idea and think about how I could approach my subject differently. 

I spent a lot of time researching and identified that I would focus on: working with children, rediscovering own childhood, and place (environment, with a more playful side). 

I selected five images to create a series for my grad show. But as I thought about it more, I changed my approach slightly. I wanted to incorporate the imagination throughout the exhibit of the work, too. So I began to play with installation and eventually built a floor standing frame which invited children to interact with the piece. For my portfolio however, I believe naturally it made sense to include more images and have different strands to the project.

It has evolved into a broad body of work, which I’m fine with. Sometimes projects of this nature need time and space to breathe. It isn’t finished, and it feels like it could take many directions. I’m open to where that will lead me during the next stage.” 

Redeye, Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art, Market Buildings, Thomas St, Manchester M4 1EU, UK
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