Silent Seasons – Photographing Newnham College during the Pandemic 

An exhibition of photography in a glass-walled corridor

A beautiful series of photographs by staff member and landscape photographer Darren Knight is currently on display in College. Captured throughout 2020, the photographs document the College grounds during an extraordinary year when Newnham fell almost silent. And more than that, they capture the personal experiences of someone who saw our vibrant College stilled, but knew “the sun would still rise over Old Hall, and it would still set behind Peile.”  This exhibition is part of the Open Programme for our 150th Anniversary celebrations

In his own words, Darren explains:  

Newnham College is such a wonderful place to live, work and study. A College that’s full of laughter and energy. From the noise of the dining hall to the staff carrying out their day-to-day business, to meetings and social gatherings, Newnham College is a place of activity.  

However, during 2020 this all changed.  

Due to the pandemic, in mid-March students started to leave the College in their droves. Staff who could work from home were advised to do so, with other employees placed on furlough. By early April there were only a handful of staff that remained full-time in the College. I was one of those individuals.  

At the beginning I didn’t like it, in fact I detested it. It felt more like a scene from a movie than the world we all knew. The College was empty and quiet, a living entity that was now void of heart and soul. However, after a few weeks I came to terms with the fact that the sun would still rise over Old Hall, and it would still set behind Peile, and now would be a good opportunity to photograph and document the College during these unprecedented times.  

As a seasoned landscape photographer, I knew that the best times to shoot would be at sunrise and sunset when the sun in low, and the light is soft. This also suited my work pattern perfectly and I’d quite often arrive at the College at 5am (two and a half hours before I started work) and leave when it was dark. More often than not, the weather conditions were not quite right on a weekday to capture my pre-planned composition, so I’d make the 40-mile round trip on a weekend just to fire off a single shot.  

The exhibition is being held in the corridor outside the Library (where we often have the citrus trees) and will be on display  from Monday 1st November until mid-January (end date TBC). 

You may already be aware of Darren’s talent through our Instagram channel and Newnham News as he is a regular contributor but if you want to find out more or indeed purchase any of these beautiful prints, please visit 

Darren is passionate about his craft and more than happy to talk to anyone about it, so if you see him around, please do say hi. He also runs photography workshops, the full details of which are on his website.  


Newnham members who are keen photographers (or indeed, creatives of any persuasion) are invited to contribute to the ‘Earth Emotions’ Climate Change exhibition