Sean's journey from roofer to visual artist, thanks to DMU scholarship

It was during a cold, rainy day high up on a construction site, when Sean Goldthorpe made the life-changing decision to explore what De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) had to offer.


Sean Goldthorpe

Sean, who left school when he was 16 to work as a roofer for seven years, was encouraged by a good friend to enrol onto DMU’s Photography and Video BA and ‘hasn’t looked back since’.

The 28-year-old, said: “I wasn’t finished with education after three years of undergraduate study. I wanted to develop as an artist and be more experimental, but I was worried that there was no way I could afford to stay on and do an MA.”

Luckily for Sean, graduating with a first meant he qualified for the Vice-Chancellor’s 2020 Scholarship - which offers a tuition fee discount of up to 50 per cent on selected postgraduate courses – enabling him to stay on at DMU and do a Photography MA.


Snapping away at a fashion photoshoot

Studying at DMU has given Sean the chance he wanted to develop as an artist, alongside building a commercial portfolio through working with big brands such as NEXT and Foot Asylum.

He said: “I’ve felt really well supported at DMU. Everyone has been keen to help me up and my tutors have always gone the extra mile.”

Sean’s tutors supported him in many ways, including helping him to secure a two-week internship with Th1ng, a video production company in London’s quirky Soho, as well as recommending him for a contemporary dance photo shoot with award-winning dancer Aakash Odedra.

Sean said: “I love performance photography and have enjoyed the chance to merge music and fashion on my shoots.

“Music is another big passion of mine, but I can’t make it, so this is definitely the next best thing.”


Part of an experimental portfolio Sean put together for one of his MA modules

One of Sean’s most memorable experiences while at DMU was being commissioned by People Dancing, the Leicester-based organisation for participatory dance, to photograph disabled dancers in a series of iconic dance scenes from film.

His series of thought-provoking takes on great cinematic moments - like Gene Kelly singing in the rain, Billy Elliot being watched dancing by his dad, and Moira Shearer playing a young ballerina in The Red Shoes – was showcased at Leicester’s Curve theatre and other art venues across the UK.

Sean also had his photos of collections by DMU Contour Fashion students published in Underlines Magazine, one of the fashion industry’s leading lingerie magazines. They were then displayed at DMU’s stand during the UK’s biggest intimates trade show, MODA, at Birmingham’s NEC.


Another experimental shot from Sean's MA portfolio

Sean said: “I’d had a few pictures published before, but that was the first glossy magazine I’d been in and it was amazing to see my work dominate three pages.

“Looking back now, it’s great to see how far I’ve come since my first year at DMU.

Convinced he would have gone down a different path had he not chosen university, Sean said: “I love DMU so much, it really has changed my life.”

Based on academic achievement and merit, the Vice-Chancellor’s 2020 Scholarship is automatically applied to all home and EU graduates who achieve a 2:1 or higher and who are graduating or graduated within the previous two years. Individual faculties may also set their own eligibility criteria, terms and conditions.

Posted on Monday 6th June 2016

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