THE LEGACY of tragic Penzance’s Mercedes Curnow – who died of cervical cancer aged just 23 – could be giving a helping hand to a new generation of Cornish photographers.
And the first one has been identified after college student Joe Wilde won the inaugural award set up in Mercedes’ name with images of beautiful Cornish beaches shot at night.
Joe has won the first Mercedes Curnow Award for talented young photographers at Truro and Penwith College and the landscape photographer plans to use it to learn to drive – so he can visit more remote spots.
He will be presented with the cheque for £1,000 in the autumn graduation ceremony and said the money would be a real boon.
Joe, from Redruth, said: “I first applied for the award as it was a fantastic opportunity for my photography work, as the money would make it possible to create the bodies of work that I wanted.
Mercedes Curnow, from Crowlas, was just 23 when she died of cervical cancer in December 2011.
She had been studying for a foundation degree in photography imaging and earlier this year the Mercedes Curnow Award was unveiled to reward talented young photographers.
Her mum, Sandra Cousins, said the annual award seemed a fitting tribute.
“The idea for the award stemmed from Mercedes.
“Photography was her passion and she also recognised the importance of this course. Photography equipment is very expensive; I hope this award will help towards the struggles that many students face.
“I was drawn to Joe's photographs because of the magical quality and the obvious dedication and passion that Joe puts into his photography.
“I know he attended every class and his efforts with every aspect of the course were outstanding.”
Joe said: “When I was told that I had won the prize I was slightly shocked as there were so many talented photographers that also applied.
“The prize of £1,000 will enable me to learn to drive, as being mainly a contemporary landscape photographer that can be tricky getting to different locations, especially when you need to get to a beach late at night.
“My plans for the future are the finish my Photography BA at Plymouth University with the possibility of undertaking a teaching course, alongside this creating bodies of work to display in exhibitions. “
Marcus Way, course leader at Truro and Penwith College for the Foundation Degree in Photography and Digital Imaging added: “It was a privilege to have taught Mercedes, she was a remarkable student who was talented, studious, ambitious, compassionate and charismatic.
“Unfortunately Mercedes never got to realise her dreams of finishing the course and becoming a professional photographer.
“It is real honour that the Mercedes Curnow Foundation is offering this award to students, It’s a wonderful legacy which will help future graduates for years to come.
“Joe Wilde thoroughly deserves to win this award, I can honestly say that he is one of the most dedicated and talented students we have had in the course’s twelve year history.
“I am confident that Joe will honour the award and use the £1000 to help start what will hopefully be a successful photographic career.”