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Photographic project captures the North East rich tapestry of talent

Kate Adie, Kathryn Tickell, Thomas Allen and Jonathan Ruffer have all been captured for Portraits from the North East

It has been more than a year in the making, but a project aimed at representing the rich tapestry of people we - as a region - can be proud of has almost reached its goal.

Making 100 photographic portraits of prominent people from the North East was the task photographer John Cogan set himself and other members of the Durham Photographic Society of which he is a member.

And when they get four or five more in the can (or whatever the digital terminology equivalent may be), they’ll have done it.

Broadcast journalist Kate Adie, classical singer and Chancellor of Durham University Sir Thomas Allen, sculptor Fenwick Lawson, celebrated author Anne Fine, award-winning Northumbrian piper Kathryn Tickell, Lord (Jeremy) Beecham and Baroness Tanni Grey Thompson are all among the cast of subjects who will soon find themselves on a touring exhibition around the North East.

“It has been a very enjoyable project,” says John. “We ended up with a team of 14 photographers being involved, often having more than one at each shoot, which has allowed us to have a variety of styles, hopefully revealing different aspects of the personality of the subjects.

“It has also allowed us to capitalise upon the amount of time we have with the subject. When three of us photographed Kate Adie we originally had 30 minutes. Circumstances conspired to reduce that 30 minutes to only nine! But three photographers with nine minutes of shooting time each meant we had the equivalent of 27 minutes worth of photographs.”

As well as a host of well known names, John and his colleagues are hoping that their photographs will also introduce people to some prominent figures they perhaps aren’t aware of.

“Although there are a lot of well known figures who feature in the collection, we are well aware that there will be some who will not be known, and therefore will be working some narrative into the exhibition, to offer some context of who people are and why they are important.

“There has been a lot of subjects recommending other subjects throughout the process, which has been really useful and interesting.”

The first of the exhibitions will be at The Alnwick Garden, Northumberland and will open for a private view on May 5 before opening to the public for a 10-day run on May 6.

“The exhibition will be opened by the Duchess of Northumberland,” says John, who is delighted to be including a portrait of the Duchess in the collection.

“We didn’t know she would offer it to us as an exhibition space, but we were of course thrilled to accept.”

Once the exhibition has served its time in Alnwick, it will move to St Nicholas Cathedral in Newcastle from May 17 to June 15 before being taken to Blyth, Sunderland and the Bowes Museum in Barnard Castle - dates and confirmed locations are still to be announced.

“We had no idea we would have so much interest and have been delighted with the response to the idea of an exhibition,” says John. “But of course it comes with a cost attached.”

Having already raised around £1,300 towards an estimated £5,000 cost for the exhibition, John and his photographer colleagues are hoping to attract some more support.

To see more of the portraits and find out more about the project and how to support it, visit www.portraitsfromthenortheast.org

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