SOUTH WEST GRADUATE PHOTOGRAPHY PRIZE 2022
This year’s entries to the SouthWestGraduatePhotographyPrize have once again revealed innovative and moving journeys with photography. It is important to remind ourselves of the pandemic interruption experienced by these emerging artists, as photography is often best explored as a sociable medium, and establishing such purposeful and diverse personal projects was no easy task.
Here are eight unique approaches, we discover; the autistic mind explored through graphic boldness, a family album re-imagined for new eyes to visit, fashion photography challenged by a mother and daughter, a poignant reminder of the youth mental health crisis, the hard archaeology of Cornwall in sculptural paper form, a family making sense of their changing place in the world, an body-building history playfully revisited with relationships strengthened, and a mesmerising glimpse at how we learn to see.
We are excited to be returning to London with our annual exhibition this Autumn. In establishing this collaborative initiative Fotonow has always endeavoured to continue to support recent graduates, the stories they share, alongside raising the profile of the incredible talent growing in the South West region.
Creative Director at Fotonow CIC
Kieran Bennett A Mind
A Mind explores autism by representing studio spaces as the mind. How autism has been hard for people to understand? What is different about autistic people? Why are they defined as disabled? And how do they suffer? Each image consists of a story behind the artist’s personal and overall experience with those who have autism. Representing these experiences to be treated as foreign, to be a lesser human due to his disability. We see the moments of insult and the times his autistic tendencies limit his ability to understand the world properly.
These images combine the ‘muted’ understanding of the condition with the growing modern-day obsession of consuming material possession over personal worth. The work uses this photographic campaign appearance to bring awareness; the wants and needs to know about the condition. The text represents the human thought and repetition of the autistic mind, like an advertisement, promoting and creating this desire for the autistic to speak out. Bennett’s attempt at ‘unmuting’ autism aims to go some way to highlighting the need for better understanding. www.kieranbennettphotography.co
Thicker Than Water
Thicker Than Water explores the relationship between imagery and human experience through the recontextualization of imagery collated from the family photo album. The prints used were lovingly created and hold a great deal of sentimental value, but were hidden away in boxes. This series aims to celebrate these images and evoke an appreciation for the richness of information in vernacular imagery, in a time of rampant dizzying nostalgia and image over-saturation. In using collage to further separate the viewer from the original images and reduce the visuals to their bare aesthetic Foulkes allows the viewer to develop a clearer understanding of how shared visual aesthetics can evoke feelings in people who are emotionally distant from the work.
Megan Hart Dyad
Dyad is a collaborative body of work that follows the maternal bond mother and daughter share through being highly creative individuals. Adopting her mother as her muse, Hart explores that intimate connection artistically, responding to her mother’s creative practice as a fine-artist, using photography.
‘Bytakingamoresolitaryapproach,wehavestrippedaway thehighproductionvaluesbehindthefashionimageand allowedourartisticstrengthstocometogetherandhone somethingmeaningful.’
Harmony Murt A Short Breath
A Short Breath focuses on mental health in young people. It explores the intimate moments between a group of young individuals, looking at a diverse range of compulsions and habits, and how this affects their daily lives. Murt works in a way to reveal more about their identity through close portraits and images of their personal surroundings. The images uncover the emotional aspects and how anxiety is the underlying link between the cause of each obsession.
The series aims to build a sense of quietness, by getting close to the subject, obscuring scenes, or use of deadpan, to express the feeling of isolation, which in turn, is shared between them. The muted tones and use of light represent the mundane and repetitive routines or feelings of the everyday, further reflecting the mood and claustrophobia caused by these anxieties.
Gwandra, meaning ‘to ramble’, is a Cornish word of multiple leanings (to walk, to talk, a rambling of thoughts). The collection forms a continuation of encounters uncovering the granite surfaces across Penwith, which as John Berger once stated, ‘to discover [West Cornwall’s] truenatureyoumustdigintoit,turnitthiswayandthat,simultaneouslyexamineitindetail andweighitasawhole’ (1952). Constructed from two distinctive representations: physical photographic sculptures, and collaged documentations, the medium of paper acts as an ambiguous presence. By elongating the process of collage, from found object to photographic reproduction, the assemblages aim to examine the degradation of a sculptural form.
The body of work shapes a response to Christopher Tilley’s archaeological studies, which theorised the plural existence of a traversed environment. Storey, correspondingly, believes in the importance of alternate visual approaches that attempt to convey the spirit and geology of Penwith in image form. Using various motifs (granite: reflecting ancient structures, plaster: used in cast moulds, Gesso: manifesting Ben Nicholson’s reliefs, and paper: for its abundant use as a photographic object), the sculptures denote the failure of photographic materiality through the process of reproduction.
The Force That Drives The Flower
The Force That Drives The Flower is a series exploring the life of a young family in the south of England; with a focus on the matriarch, Grace. It depicts her life, alongside partner Tom and their six-month-old son, Billie.
Documenting their everyday routine and domestic landscape, also sharing their physical journey from Brighton to Bath, transitioning from an alternative way of living to a secure and family-centric lifestyle. The work represents the complex experience of motherhood whilst also challenging societal expectations and prejudice imposed upon women who decide to have children at a young age, with themes of care and relationship at the forefront.
Katie Waite Muscle Memory
MuscleMemory is an exploration of a period in Katie’s mother’s life as a female body-builder and inverts a stereotype of being a mother in which she became ‘anenablingdisruption’tothenorm’.
This body-builder history had been an interest of Katie’s since a young age. One specific image of her mother (Julie) body-building in the late 80’s, which Katie would stare at as a child, captured her imagination. As she got older she would ask her mother questions and learn stories of her past. When Katie and Julie, moved house in 2017 she saw all of the memorabilia, the trophies won, books used for training, archive imagery, even the posing costumes and workout clothes that Julie wore.
The series includes photographs from her mother’s personal archive, a Katie transformed into bodybuilder (recreating her Julie’s favourite poses) and studies of the diet she was on when training and playful images of mother and daughter posing together. The work explores ideas of family, femininity and maternal strength in a contemporary depiction of motherhood and captures a mother and daughter’s bond through this fascinating body-building story.
Olivia Wood Beyond the Vision
BeyondtheVision is an abstract artistic take on the vision of a newborn baby. Whilst studying at university, Wood gave birth to a baby boy and decided that she would try to understand his vision - this new and amazing world he has been born into. Wood discovered during her research that newborns up to three to four months of age do not experience full colour vision and for up to six months mainly view objects as blurred shapes.
This work explores these first six months of a newborn baby’s eyesight, through a series of images starting off in black and white then slowly, colour enters the images. The actions taken had a profound effect on Wood and her husband’s understanding of how a baby engages with the world, how their son will develop. A book was been created that Wood can show her son when he is older and what he was able to see.