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"Pull Up a Pew"... with Sebastian Porral

It's been too long since we had a young person on our favourite pew at the Cathedral and thus we present to you an interview with Sebastian Porral: Adventure junkie, local photography student and devout Catholic.

Sebastian is responsible for the "Works of Mercy exhibition" currently on display at the Shrine of Our Lady of Europe and so we thought the world needed to know how this came about...

Sebastian Porral Photographer. Gibraltar Catholic Youth.

Before we get started on the exhibition, talk to me about Sebastian Porral. What do you like to do?

I am seventeen years old, attend Bayside school, and apart from photography, I enjoy flying drones, surfing, making videos (youtube), gym and climbing.

So Seb, how did this all come about? Who dreamt up this "Works of Mercy" exhibition?

When I first found out about the idea of setting up the exhibition I was still doing my A-Level Art and had been working with photography within art. Father Charlie approached me, through Mr Ullger, my art teacher, and asked me if I was interested, and after thinking about it I thought it fit rather well with my art coursework at the time, and I thought the subject was very interesting, so I accepted the challenge.

Were you aware of the fact that it is a Jubilee Year of Mercy, or had you encountered the Works of Mercy before?

At the beginning I didn't really know what to expect and what the Year of Mercy was and actually, after doing some research, I found myself struggling to get ideas for the images. As I had decided to include it in my art coursework, I only had two weeks to complete all fourteen images to meet my deadline.

I can imagine, looking through the list of Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy, it can't have been easy to think of and then shoot some of them...

Sebastian Porral's "Welcome the Stranger" Gibraltar Catholic Youth.

Some of the images came naturally to me, like "bury the dead". I knew straight away that I wanted to do something with the cemetery at night, however it was not such a straight forward process. After going the first night I would have to go back the following two nights just to get the perfect photo.

Which proved to be the most challenging image to capture?

"Welcome the stranger" definitely. In the sense of camera settings alone because of the wide contrast between light and dark I found it rather difficult to include as much detail as possible.

One of the things that struck us is that your photographs feel so human and alive yet there is no human life in them! Was this a conscious decision?

Yes, after completing a few of the images I decided that I wasn't going to put any sort of human life within the images and that I wanted to have an array of wide angles and some really close ups.

So what have you taken from this experience? Has it brought you closer to God in any way?

After completing all fourteen images, I look back at the experience as a sort of mini-pilgrimage that taught me and allowed me to become closer to God and share what He wanted through my photography. I feel that the whole exhibition has come together really well, especially with the help of Father Charlie, Sean Ballester and you, Tim Azopardi.

Seb, it's been a pleasure. What's next for Seb Porral and if people could take one thing from your exhibition what would you hope that that is?

Photography Is very much a 'serious' hobby that allows me to break away from the outside world and focus on getting the photograph. In September I am hoping to go and study Marine and Natural History Photography at the University of Falmouth.

Wow you really are an adrenaline junkie! (Laughs exchanged)

As for what they take from the exhibition, well I am sure God has a much better message for them than myself. I just hope people will visit the Shrine and experience the exhibition, then walk through the Holy Door into the Chapel for some quiet time to meditate and reflect on God's mercy in His presence.


You can visit the exhibition at the Shrine of Our Lady of Europe at selected times during the week and on Saturday's for Holy Mass at 12 midday. For more information call St Theresa's Church.

You can catch up with all of Seb's work through his Instagram.

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