A TALENTED Irvine Royal Academy pupil has been congratulated after her successful first photography exhibition.

North Ayrshire's young people’s champion, Councillor Chloe Robertson, took the opportunity to check out S3 pupil Emma Burns' thought-provoking display of images relating to mental health.

Delivered in partnership with North Ayrshire Libraries and the council’s Information and Culture team, the Irvine Library exhibition has resonated not only with young people but library members of all ages who have visited over the last two months.

Emma’s photography exhibition explored the impact that bullying can have on mental health.

Emma, 14, said: “It has been amazing to hear about the many people who have taken the time to check out my work. It’s been great to have the exposure so early in my photography journey.

Irvine Times: Words Hurt by Emma BurnsWords Hurt by Emma Burns (Image: NAC)

“Over the last few years, photography has been a real passion of mine, but it really took off at the beginning of third year when I started my photography class at Irvine Royal Academy.

“One of my lessons was photojournalism, and I chose bullying to be my focus.

"I feel that my photos show the impact that bullying has on young people today and I am hoping my photos come across as empowering to get the anti-bullying message across, that if you're experiencing bullying, you are not alone, and it's always good to talk.

“I wouldn’t have my work on display if it wasn't for the Harbour Arts Centre, Irvine Library and my teacher at Irvine Royal Academy.

"Hopefully I can inspire other young people to get their creative work out there and remember that you can reach whatever goal you set for yourself if you believe you can."

Emma also uses her photography to support her wellbeing as she juggles her busy schedule.

She added: “I also really like to go on walks to wind down as I am involved in a lot of after-school activities, and I’m putting my name forward for Marymass Queen or Mary this year – so there’s a lot happening.

“My gran lives near the high flats and on one of my recent walks I stumbled upon an acorn. When I turned the acorn over there was surprisingly a lovely little red ladybug on the other side.

“You never know what you might find that will make for a great picture. So if you’re thinking of giving photography a go too, why not try it out using a phone camera when out and about?

"It’s better to be snapping pictures than scrolling all the time after all!"

Raising awareness of bullying and its impact on mental health, the photography project was created to encourage young people to have the courage to speak up and ask for help if they are being bullied.

Irvine Times: Emma at her exhibition

Councillor Robertson said: “Congratulations to Emma on the success of her inspiring photo exhibition. At 14 years old, her talent shines through in each of her photos, and I have no doubt that she has a bright future ahead of her.

“It’s great to see first-hand that even though Emma is keen to pursue a career in science, she has such a natural flair for photography too and is using it as a creative release to inspire others and better her own health and wellbeing in her free time.”

On May 14, the council's Youth Services team hosted this year’s first Joint Cabinet meeting at Irvine’s Volunteer Rooms. The important annual event is where young people from across all six localities have the chance to meet with council officials to speak up about matters that are most important to them.

Cllr Robertson said: “From listening to our young people, mental health awareness - specifically the issue of bullying and cyber-bullying - is a key theme that is a real concern for them, so I am glad that Emma has been brave enough to raise awareness too and encourage others to seek help so that we can tackle the problem together.”

If you are being bullied, please speak to a trusted adult who can help or approach any staff member such as a teacher, youth worker, library worker who will do what they can to provide support.

Alternatively, check out Scotland’s anti-bullying support website: https://tinyurl.com/RespectMeSupport.

If you are a young person working on an inspiring creative project or perhaps you’d like to get involved in after-school or #youthparticipation activities, visit the dedicated 'Youth groups and organisations' section of the council's website for more info.