These photos are just two of the hundreds you could see at the SPARK Photo Festival
These photos are just two of the hundreds you could see at the SPARK Photo Festival

The SPARK Photo Festival is opening this week and will feature the artistic contributions of many Trent students through collaboration between the festival and the Trent Visual Arts Network (TVAN). This is the third year of the festival and the first time that TVAN and SPARK have worked together.

The SPARK photo festival is the only regional photography festival of its kind in Canada. It brings together artists in the Peterborough region to celebrate their photography through installations around the city. Last year, over 11,000 people attended, and this number is only expected to grow. Especially this year, with the Lucy Maud Montgomery special exhibit taking place, organizers are expecting a significant turn-out and potentially many patrons from out of town.

SPARK is a celebration of Peterborough’s talented artists. This pool has always included Trent students in the past three years that it has been running.

Many students have organized their own solo and group exhibits independently. This year, TVAN is taking the lead in organizing an exhibition for Trent students.

Nine Trent students will be participating at the exhibition at Sadleir House, called ‘Faces and Places’. This exhibition draws on photography from a range of locations and a range of perspectives, each foregrounding some aspect of face or place. The contributors themselves come from a diverse range of backgrounds and bring a diverse range of photos.

TVAN is a student group that builds a community of artists on campus from a variety of backgrounds, whether that is painting, sketching, ink, or photography. They have hosted several exhibitions around campus, notably at Lady Eaton College, which Ryan Lamoureaux, Vice President of TVAN, felt was the arts college at Trent. Having started this past year, they have picked up quickly and now run weekly workshops on different art methods and styles.

TVAN and SPARK connected “through a common interest in art and photography,” said Lamoureaux in an interview with Arthur. They are branching out in this way to downtown, in a space that falls between campus and the city, to display the works of their membership.

The students had to coordinate the exhibition themselves with the support of the SPARK festival organizers. Robert Boudreau, SPARK festival co-chair, in an interview with Arthur said, “The process of doing an exhibit is very challenging but very rewarding, especially if you haven’t done one before.”

The festival is a great opportunity for budding photographers to develop the industry skills necessary for setting up an exhibition. While SPARK provides support and guidance, it is up to the exhibitors to find and contact a venue, configure their exhibition, select and edit photos, and arrange them around the space.

SPARK takes on responsibility for mounting placards and descriptions of the pieces as well as marketing and advertising for its component exhibitions. So while artists are mostly independently setting up exhibitions, SPARK assumes the most costly responsibility.

The photo festival can be a great way for fledgling photographers to learn how the arts business works and how to continue having their work displayed. For photographers, this can be a great way of getting feedback on their work and networking with similarly interested individuals in the region.
Lamoureaux, in an interview with Arthur, said, “It’s really awesome to meet other artists through SPARK. It’s great to get the opportunity to share knowledge with others and try something new.”

Boudreau was enthusiastic about having more Trent students try their hand at exhibition through SPARK. His advice was not to go into it hoping to sell any pieces. In his experience, expecting sales is disappointing and it is the thrill of the exhibition that should be enticing.

The SPARK photo festival runs during the month of April.

TVAN’s Faces and Places exhibition will have its opening reception Wednesday April 8 from 7-9pm in Hobbes Library of Sadleir House.