Becoming a dad, an award finalist, a teacher, achieving a master’s qualification and exhibiting work have all been highlights of an incredible year for a graduate who discovered a life-changing passion for photography after suffering a stroke.
Alberto Gonzalez Gabarre is celebrating graduating from the University of Chester with a Master’s in Fine Art, focusing on photography, and being named as a Liverpool City Region Photo Awards finalist, with one of his images currently on display at the Open Eye Gallery in Liverpool.
The 42-year-old, originally from Madrid, Spain, and now based in Liverpool, became a new dad while completing his final Master’s exhibition, and has also been inspiring the next generation of photographers and artists, teaching students in further education.
Alberto studied his Master’s of Art (MA) part-time after completing a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Photography at the University.
He said: “My university studies have been such a great opportunity – I will always feel grateful for them. I have had different health issues since I was 16 that prevented me from pursuing further and higher education earlier in life. While I was completing my foundation course in 2015 I had a stroke and this impacted my ability to draw, so I turned to photography instead, and it transformed my life as I discovered my true passion”.
On becoming a dad and juggling all of his responsibilities, he added: “Balancing everything as a mature student – work, dad duties, and studies, as well as the restrictions of the pandemic in the first year of the MA – has not been easy. I had to be very organised and devote nights and weekends to cover for the time I could not devote during the day.
“But I have been very lucky to have the support of my partner, my peers, and excellent tutors so this has made things easier.
Alberto’s progress and skills shone, with the recognition in the still life category in the Liverpool City Region Photography Awards, and he described how “seeing my photograph in the gallery was really exciting. It’s great for my work to be visible in this way”.
The accolade follows further award nominations and selections for exhibitions, including making the shortlist for the national 2020 Eizo Student Colour Award.
Dr Maxine Bristow, Associate Professor in Art and Design at the University of Chester, said: “Alberto demonstrated an incredible level of commitment to his studies at the same time as negotiating his other responsibilities. The body of work that he developed over the course of the Master’s was uniquely inventive, aesthetically, technically, and conceptually”.