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Ayrshire Student’s Photo Helps Battle Bigotry

An Ayrshire College Student has won a photography competition aimed at tackling prejudice across the county.

HNC Photography student John Lyall from Cumnock was named the winner of the 'Pitch Perfect' competition ran by equalities charity Nil by Mouth which challenged students to create an image challenging stereotypes across society.

John's powerful entry 'What am I' highlights how we often choose to view people on our own terms, through our own stereotypes rather than allowing them the chance to speak for themselves. It was also a poignant photo for John with his girlfriend agreeing to pose as a model. John's portrait will be used across Ayrshire later in the year in an effort to get people to re-consider their attitudes toward others.

Photography student John Lyall with his winning entry; What Am I

'Pitch Perfect' is a creative competitive ran in colleges each year by Nil by Mouth with support from Youth Enterprise Scotland. It aims to encourage students to tackle social problems through art and design, creating images which challenge stereotypes and sectarianism in society.

Nil by Mouth is Scotland's leading anti-sectarian charity and works in schools, colleges, workplaces and communities right across Scotland. Through its 'Bridge 2 Business' programme Youth Enterprise Scotland offers college students first hand opportunities to engage with professional businesses and charities, encourage them to get the best out of their abilities and set up their own businesses now or in the future.

L-R Dave Scott, Nil by Mouth Director, John Lyall, with winning image, Emma Alexander, Nil by Mouth Engagement Officer

Nil by Mouth Director Dave Scott said:

'John has created a very powerful and thought provoking piece of art and our judging panel felt he was a worthy winner. It's a provocative photograph but not in an aggressive way, rather it asks questions of the viewer, challenging them to decide which box they would put the person featured into from words scattered around her. We will be looking to have his winning entry on display in public places across Ayrshire over the next few months, including the various Ayrshire college campuses. Previous winners of this competition have gone on to have their work featured in national media outlets and displayed in galleries across Scotland and John winning this year's event highlights the artistic talent within Ayrshire. He is clearly a talented young artist and I am sure this will be the first of many successes for him.'

Lynn Kelly from Youth Enterprise Scotland said:

'As part of Bridge 2 Business, I was delighted to see the photography students at Ayrshire College take part in their first ever Nil by Mouth competition. The efforts from the students were inspiring, and congratulations to John on his winning image. I am looking forward to the competition growing for next year, as we continue with this fantastic partnership with Nil by Mouth.'

Winning image by John Lyall - What Am I

Johnnie O'Byrne, Curriculum Manager, Ayrshire College added:

'We are very proud of John's success in this competition and of how he tackled the issue. He created an image that seems simple but at the same time is striking and challenging. I hope that this great achievement is only the starting point for John, he is a credit to us all here at Ayrshire College as a photographer and a student. We also hope that this will be the start of a partnership with Nil By Mouth that expands across all areas of the arts, highlighting the important work of the charity and the exceptional work of our students. This is exactly the type of opportunity we wish to create for everyone who chooses to study Creative Arts with us at Ayrshire College, opportunities that allow them to grow as individuals and artists.'

For more information on Nil By Mouth visit https://nilbymouth.org