Pupil captures soul of historic Sunderland school in special exhibition

School Days photographic exhibition by Lilly Thompson.
School Days photographic exhibition by Lilly Thompson.
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A pupil has put the changing face of a historic city school in the frame.

Lilly Thompson, 15, from Plains Farm, has captured details from some of the old buildings at St Anthony’s Catholic Girls’ Academy which have been pulled down as part of a multi-million pound rebuild.

School Days photographic exhibition by Lilly Thompson.

School Days photographic exhibition by Lilly Thompson.

From old dripping taps to a period staircase and climbing frames in a gymnasium, Lilly focuses on the oft-forgotten aspects of school life in her School Days exhibition, which has gone on display at Arts Centre Washington.

The display, which runs until June 25 in the Granary Gallery, also features natural portraits of her school friends.

Lilly said: “Parts of the school have been pulled down in the rebuild, and I wanted to focus on some of the aspects people may have missed.

“One of the photos featured in the Youth Arts Exhibition earlier in the year, but it’s great to have my own large scale display.

School Days photographic exhibition by Lilly Thompson.

School Days photographic exhibition by Lilly Thompson.

“It’s great that the venue gives opportunities to young people like this, to give a teenager a space for a month. Maybe if other 15-year-olds see this they’ll be inspired to submit work too.”

A talent for the arts runs in the family with sister Emmie, 16, also making waves with her pieces.

In January both girls had their artwork exhibited at Arts Centre Washington as part of the Sunderland Youth Arts Exhibition, and have both won awards for paintings and photographs submitted for the exhibition.

In March they then went on to pick up two 2016 Sunderland Young Achievers Awards, one for Lilly as a Youth Art winner while the other was a one-off Special Recognition Award for their combined contribution to Arts and Culture.

School Days photographic exhibition by Lilly Thompson.

School Days photographic exhibition by Lilly Thompson.

The pair have also picked up Antonian Awards, which are held annually at St Anthony’s to recognise pupils’ talent and dedication to their studies.

Emmie, who is studying fine art for her GCSEs, said: “Whereas Lilly is more interested in photography and acting, I’m interested in painting and animation. We often work together and combine ideas.

“It helps to have someone to talk to about our arts interests.”

The pair have also displayed a keen passion for film-making and worked on a film with the Baltic gallery recently, which was shown as part of The Late Shows culture event.

School Days photographic exhibition by Lilly Thompson.

School Days photographic exhibition by Lilly Thompson.

Emmie added: “The arts have impacted our lives in so many ways, like building our confidence, opening doors to new opportunities and inspiring us to keep on creating.

“As Sunderland prepares to bid for City of Culture, we hope that we can inspire more young people to take up an art form.”

As if that wasn’t enough to keep them busy, next year Lilly will be participating in a four-week expedition to Cambodia with Camps International, for which she is raising £4,000.

There, she will live in a rural community and work on social and cultural projects to improve the lives of local people.

School Days photographic exhibition by Lilly Thompson.

School Days photographic exhibition by Lilly Thompson.

School Days photographic exhibition by Lilly Thompson.

School Days photographic exhibition by Lilly Thompson.

School Days photographic exhibition by Lilly Thompson.

School Days photographic exhibition by Lilly Thompson.

School Days photographic exhibition by Lilly Thompson.

School Days photographic exhibition by Lilly Thompson.

School Days photographic exhibition by Lilly Thompson.

School Days photographic exhibition by Lilly Thompson.

School Days photographic exhibition by Lilly Thompson.
 Sister Emmie Thompson (R)

School Days photographic exhibition by Lilly Thompson. Sister Emmie Thompson (R)