Girls put creativity in the frame for History challenge

Sydenham High’s firm belief that creativity is a key skill which should be embedded in education was certainly in evidence in the school’s recent History competition entitled: ‘London Through The Ages’.

Students aged from 11-17 years old were challenged to think creatively and, importantly, develop their observation skills to interpret the historical theme using photography.  The result was a range of 49 striking images that greatly impressed competition judge: internationally acclaimed photographer Emile Holba.

Runners-up 11-year old Olivia Tookey and 12-year old Nina Mattinson both chose very local subjects – a stone Sphinx in the remains of the old Crystal Palace in front of the modern telecommunications tower for Olivia and a collage of tunnels for Nina.

However it was 15-year old Olivia Bertie’s photo of the old and new faces of London’s iconic Routemaster bus passing each other on the street that took the top prize.

Emile Holba said of Olivia’s photo: “This photo has immediate impact and I kept coming back to itIt has London written all over it.  Technically speaking it is very tricky to get a shot like this but the two (objects) are perfectly aligned.”

Olivia is no stranger to taking winning photos. In February she won the top prize in the National Geographic Junior Magazine’s national and international competition ‘weird but true’ category with a photo of two cheeky chimps eating apples at Edinburgh zoo.

All the finalists’ images were displayed at an exhibition in the new Orangery and visitors voted for their favourite as the People’s Choice.  The winner was 12-year old Alannah Bresnihan’s image of an old style red phone box taken on a smartphone – a strong visual commentary on the changes to our ways of communicating in the capital in the last 60 years.

“I loved the fact that so many girls from across the senior school took part in this competition,” said Headteacher Kathryn Pullen. “Exploring the history of their city through photography resulted in such a variety of interpretations of the brief. The talent in this school is phenomenal.  At Sydenham High creativity is a key skill that is celebrated, not side-lined.”