Sydenham High life through a lens, past and present

Sydenham High continued its 130th birthday celebrations with a photographic exhibition on Thursday 2 March, illustrating the past and present life of the school.

The exhibition, in collaboration with Sydenham Arts’, was part of the inaugural Sydenham:Lens event and combined photographs from the school’s extensive archives with new images taken by students from both Junior and Senior schools.

The new photographs were inspired by a photography Master Class delivered by local professional photographer John Russell, who showed the students, from Year 6 to Year 12, how to use apps to turn their phones and tablets into SLR cameras. The resulting images ranged from unusual shots of parts of the school to images of local wildlife and fauna.

Mr Russell joined Acting Headteacher Karl Guest and the Head of Junior School Claire Boyd to select winners in both parts of the school.

Trixie SambidgeThe Junior School winner was a photo by Trixie Sambige (Year 6) of students running in front of the ‘Be Bold’ mural in the school’s playground. “I loved the spirit and energy of this photograph,” said Mr Russell. “A photo should tell a story and this one certainly does. The framing of the Be Bold combined with the energy of the movements of play and fun just makes this image jump out.” Runner-up was Heather Kelley’s photo of a reflection of a modern light in the old glass of a school bookcase, while photos by Ella McGovern and Ivanna Sackey were highly commended.


Olivia Bertie imageThe winning Senior School photo was a compelling image of the school’s main staircase by Olivia Bertie (Year 12) who has won previous photographic competitions both in school and nationally. Mr Russell said: “A very powerful image – one that has deep qualities that make you want to look at it. It speaks of perhaps a favourite personal perspective on everyday life in school with a lovely perspective and composition with the quality of Escher’s never ending stairs where up and down are almost lost.”  The runner-up was Charlotte Purves (Year 9) for her portrait of ha fellow student in shafts of sunlight in the school grounds, with a highly commended award for Lily Russell (Year 7)

Grace Pappas image


The People’s Choice prize was awarded to Grace Pappas (Year 6). Her photo looking up into tree and beyond to a church tower, received the most votes from visitors to the exhibition. Mr Russell commented: “We never look up enough in life. I love the angle, corner to corner. A photographer needs to be able to see the world before seeing it differently.”

All the students’ images will become part of a time capsule to be buried as the final act in the 130th celebrations.

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