“It’s all the extracurricular activities that have inspired me to join different clubs at Leeds University through a close collaboration with Leeds College of Art.”
Meet Hamish Irvine
Tell us about what you’re doing now
“I’m completing my degree and studying Photography at Leeds College of Art and I have a new exhibition project currently on display at Arrosti cafe in Leeds.
It’s a collection of images called ‘Việt Nam’ taken during a month-long 2,000km motorbike journey through the country. It brings together a traditional style of photography with a poignant modern focus on a rapidly developing nation.
What’s your fondest memory of Bradford Grammar School?
“I used to love Wednesday afternoons because you were free to take part in all the clubs and societies that you wanted to at your leisure.
It’s all the extracurricular activities that have inspired me to join different clubs at Leeds University through a close collaboration with Leeds College of Art. At school I made the time so that I could try everything. If I could give advice to pupils at BGS now, it would be to do as much as possible because you don’t get these opportunities afterwards–you really don’t.
At BGS I was rowing (coaching and competing). I was a wedding photographer, playing hockey, doing tech team and playing my saxophone. It shocks my friends at University how much I know about a lot of different things and it surprises them even more that I learnt it all at school.
You just don’t get these opportunities at most places. The sheer variety of the subjects, clubs and societies is something I’ll never forget.
What makes your art exhibition unique?
“The technology is what makes this exhibition really interesting I think. I used a 1952 Rolleiflex camera, which photographs squares onto medium format film.
Not many photographers shoot film anymore. It’s interesting because film is starting to become popular again. I’m inspired by documentary black and white photography, such as the war photographers that used to get out there in the thick of it. I really wanted to pay homage to that kind of style. The exhibition is photographed on a camera that actually dates back to before the Vietnam War itself and that’s what really makes it unique.
Why did you choose Vietnam?
“I’ve seen Vietnam in a lot of films such as Francis Coppola’s Apocalypse Now and Stanley Kubrick’s ‘Full Metal Jacket’ and it’s such a stunningly beautiful landscape.
I just wanted to explore it further. It’s also a really accessible country to travel around which is fantastic because I could go without any preconceptions and really see it for myself as a completely new experience.
What were the highlights of the trip?
“When you’re not quite sure what you’re facing and just working off a map–it can be slightly daunting.
But at the same time you come across the most beautiful human interactions and captivating scenery that I’d just have to stop and photograph. The breath-taking long distance rides were really the highlight. I covered 150km at a time on a 110cc motorbike, that was almost falling apart at times. But it was totally worth it; seeing the contrast between the big cities, then straight into serious poverty and capturing that on camera was amazing.
How did BGS prepare you for further study/your career?
“100%–it’s the drive the teachers and staff install you with. You’re in an environment where you’re constantly being pushed.
I was pushed to the maximum of my potential, which meant that ultimately I did well in subjects I was poor at and got straight A’s across the board. It’s only after leaving school when you meet a wide mix of other people the same age at University and you compare your work ethic. I really didn’t realise just how good my work ethic was.
What would you say to parents who are considering BGS?
“If your child wants the best education they can get in the north then BGS is where you should go.
There’s so much energy and it’s such a happy environment. If you can send your child there I would say do it and if you can’t, certainly consider applying for a bursary because it could change your child’s life.
“I was pushed to the maximum of my potential which meant that ultimately I did well in subjects I was poor at and got straight A’s across the board.”