This event welcomes you to join the discussion about commissioning socially engaged projects from both the photographer's and commissioner's point of view. Speakers Gwen Riley Jones and Rosie Naylor talk about their commissioning experience; following that will be an open conversation for all to take part in. 


How can photography be used as a tool to re-ignite discussions around archives and collections, who are these archives for and whose story do they seek to tell? And what benefits are there to commissioning socially engaged approaches to exploring collections, working not only with photographers but partners beyond our own sector to explore the role of archives and collections today? 


These are just some of the questions facing cultural organisations today and we would like you to join in the discussion too. SEPN members Redeye Photography Network and Open Eye Gallery have invited the University of Salford Contemporary Art Collection team to discuss their first socially engaged photographer in residence commission. The collection will discuss their approach to commissioning this type of work, and their cross sector partnership model for realising the programme. We will also hear from the current photographer in residence Gwen Riley Jones about the process so far and key community partner, Rosie Naylor, RHS Bridgewater Garden’s Community Engagement Coordinator. 


Key topics discussed: 

Commissioning, socially engaged practice, cross-sector partnerships, the role of the artist, working with archives and collections, ethics, youth engagement, environmental partnerships, collaboration  


Who is it for?

This event is for anyone who would like to gain a better understanding of the commissioning process, from both the photographers and commissioners point of view, those working within archive and collections, and for those who would like to contribute to creating a better commissioning landscape.


More about the Socially Engaged Photography Network (SEPN)

Working with organisations, photographers, community groups, academics and curators from across the country, we are building a new network to discuss and accelerate the practice of socially engaged photography. In the spirit of social practice, the network is shaped collaboratively by its users. We have over 380 members and 20 organisational partners supporting the development of the network to date. 


We have regional meet up groups and events established or currently developing across the North West, North East, the Midlands, Yorkshire, Scotland, London and South East, and the South West.  


This co-authoring the collection event is also a taster to a 6 week training programme SEPN partners will be running for curators, producers and gallery and museum professionals interested in learning more about socially engaged photography commissioning. The programme ‘Reframing Culture’ will launch this Summer with funding support from the Art Fund re-imagine grants. For more information about this or anything to do with SEPN please feel free to contact 




About the Speakers

Rosie Naylor, Community Engagement Coordinator based at RHS Garden Bridgewater. I am the citizen engagement lead for an EU-funded innovation partnership project in Greater Manchester called IGNITION, and I have spent the last 3 years exploring different approaches to engaging community and youth audiences in how plants and urban greening can make cities resilient to the impacts of climate change.


Gwen Riley Jones, Socially Engaged Photographer in Residence at University of Salford Art Collection in partnership with Open Eye Gallery. Collaborating with young people in Salford to explore the purpose of art. Critiquing and questioning the Salford Art Collection with Salford Youth Council and partnering with RHS Bridgewater and young people from Action for Conservation, to create imagery communicating the outcomes of IGNITION.


Liz Wewiora is a visual artist and creative producer/ curator, specialising in socially engaged practice with a background in photography. She has worked independently and across organisation roles in the North West and Glasgow, including FACT, CCA Glasgow, Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art and Glasgow Sculpture Studios as well as undertaking her own independent artist commissions with the likes of AA2A, Manchester Histories, Centre Point, NHS, Mersey Travel and Allotments Society UK. 

Liz is the Head of Social Practice for Open Eye Gallery, leading on their socially engaged programme working with and for communities and cross-sector partners across the city region. She also manages the national network for socially engaged photography (SEPN) who have organised this event today. Across both her curatorial and practitioner role, she seeks to instigate and produce collaborative photography projects that push for social change.


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