2024 Festival Dates: 6 & 7 July

12: Participatory Photography Exhibition

12 is a participatory photography project, a collaboration between a local photography research team and 12 volunteers from two Blackburn-based organisations that provide support for the community.



12 explores the motivations behind, and the meanings of, volunteering. In short, it’s a shout-out to a handful of incredible people, who make an incredible contribution to their community.

In early 2023, in the context of the UK’s cost of living crisis, a research team made up of John Harrison and Shaun McAllister devised a framework for exploring the contribution made by volunteers working in Blackburn with Darwen. This led them to develop relationships with two local organisations that rely on the work of volunteers to deliver support for people in the area: Blackburn Food Bank and Blackburn Litter Pickers.

Now in 2024, launching for the first time at the National Festival of Making, 12 presents a series of twenty four portraits and reflections drawn from interviews with the volunteers. Also featured will be a publication, including a journalistic, written portrayal from Shonti Mukhergee of the impact of the UK’s cost of living crisis, assessing the role of the third sector as an ever-important safety net.


John Harrison’s photography has been exhibited at several UK and international venues, and he has presented his photography and research at several UK conferences. John studied at the Newport School of Documentary Photography and completed a practice-based PhD at the Northern Centre of Photography in 2022.

Shaun McAllister’s practice is embedded between documentary and socially engaged work with the community of Blackburn, through short and long-term investigations. Shaun has been exhibiting and producing work since 2004.

Gill Fourie is project advocate for 12, through her role as Manager at Blackburn Food Bank and her continued support in opening doors and starting conversations.

12 is sponsored by the National Festival of Making, The Trussell Trust and The Duchy of Lancaster.




2019 Trusts & Foundations

The National Festival Of Making Delivery Team

National Festival of Making is supported by the Arts Council England, Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council, Brian Mercer Trust and Foundations and Partners. This project is part-funded by the UK government through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.

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