Children snap life on two continents

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AN exhibition of photographs linking schools in Bury St Edmunds and Mali will open next Friday.

The idea of Bury photographer John Williams, all the pictures are taken by children from Westley and Howard middle schools and Sangare School in Bamako, the capital of the West African state.

All the pictures shown at The Edmund Gallery, Angel Hill, have been printed above thumbnails of pictures taken at the same time by the young photographer, to put the main shot in context.

John had the idea when he was disappointed by the photographs at a fund-raising event in aid of the Mali Development Group, so suggested sending 50 single use film cameras out there. Jessops in Bury provided the cameras and a non-government organisation took them out.

But with 38 used cameras returned to Sangare School, John then found nobody could bring them back, so they sweltered at 45 degrees until John funded a courier, not knowing if the films had deteriorated. The Bury schools opted to use digital cameras.

John said: “My aim from the start was to create a series of exhibitions and although I had envisaged it in purely Mali terms I embraced the opportunity to compare and contrast our different lifestyles.”

Yet the pictures also show similarities. John points out how both sets of children use the same hand signs.

Suffolk County Council supported the cost of printing pictures for the Your Place, Our Place exhibition and its chief executive Deborah Cadman will officially open it on Friday evening with Bury MP David Ruffley. It is open from 10.30am to 4.30pm until February 9.

After a tour of British venues it will go to Bamako.