TRACE launches mentorship programme for women photographers over the age of 35

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© Haley Morris-Cafiero

Haley Morris-Cafiero discusses the launch of the year-long scheme, and why she hopes it will reach “people who, for whatever reason, haven’t had a seat at the table”

A new artist-led curation and publishing project, TRACE, has announced its inaugural mentorship programme. The year-long scheme will offer no-cost workshops, portfolio reviews and peer networking to 24 women photographers, aged 35 and over.

The TRACE Mentorship Programme, open to UK-based practitioners whose work has not appeared in a solo exhibition or book, is aimed at women photographers from underrepresented groups. TRACE encourages applications from those who identify as Black, Asian, ethnically diverse, LGBTQI+, neurodiverse, disabled, those who face gender discrimination and individuals from a lower socio-economic background.

Photographer Haley Morris-Cafiero who, alongside curator Sebah Chaudry and fellow photographer Sian Bonnell, founded the mentorship programme, said: “I’ve been a lecturer in universities for almost 20 years and it’s the female students that always seem to have less confidence – they’re full of talent, but there’s confidence issues.

© Sian Bonnell

“We realised that emerging artist awards always seem to be for 35s and under. It’s like something magical happens when you turn 35 and if you haven’t made it, you’ve got to figure something else out.”

For the scheme’s 24 mentees, the programme will begin in Manchester on 11 June 2022, with an in-person introductory event. Throughout the following year, there will be an on-going online programme.

Mentees will attend workshops focused on concept development, curation skills and writing proposals, receive advice from industry specialists – including director of development at The Royal Photographic Society, Tracy Marshall Grant – and take part in online peer review sessions. 

Finally, the programme’s 24 photographers will attend portfolio reviews, conducted by experts including assistant curator at Tate, Emma Lewis; director of photography at FT Weekend Magazine, Emma Bowkett; and curator and photographic artist, Bindi Vora.

At the end of the programme, participants will install works completed throughout the year in a two-day exhibition, scheduled for June 2023. It is hoped that the exhibition will run both online and in-person.

Morris-Cafiero, who uses her photography as an activist voice to fight discrimination and social invisibility, said: “We’re really hoping that people apply that wouldn’t normally, maybe because they don’t think they would have a shot, or because they can’t normally afford it.

“People who, for whatever reason, haven’t had a seat at the table. We’re setting this up as a confidence builder for those people.”

Applications for the TRACE Mentorship Programme, which is supported by the Genesis Foundation, are open until 09 May 2022. Full details on how to apply can be found here.