Each year as part of Graduate Photography Online we ask a number of professionals from the world of photography to review all the BA work submitted and choose their favourites. We hope this makes an interesting introduction to the project as a whole.
One of the most enjoyable parts of my job is looking at new work from emerging photographers, so it was both enjoyable and informative to view such a wide variety of submissions. A number of projects deal with similar themes which feel particularly apposite - gender, mental health, representation of the self and environmental issues – but the approaches were varied with many having a personal story informing the images and the way the story was told. There were a couple of stand out projects, but many with strong images and interesting themes being resolved in unexpected and challenging ways that made selecting just 6 no easy task. In the end I have chosen projects that seem to me to have a clear and coherent intention that is thoroughly examined, well executed and resolved.
Selector's Comment: I love the seeming simplicity of this work that has the confidence and clarity of intention of an established artist. The concept is explained concisely and is instantly readable in the first image. As the series develops though a series of beautifully executed scenes, there is a dynamic flow that carries you to increasingly complicated expressions of the initial conceit. The uniformity of shot, the choice of space, the basic forms of the ‘furniture’ create what appear to be simple images, but which ask questions of representation, replacement, self-image and observation. This work shows an artist managing strong ideas with clarity and great vision.
Selector's Comment: Quigley tackles this subject matter with a fairly traditional documentary approach, but his tenacity in gaining access and his dedication to the subject pays off with an informative, well composed, witty and revealing set of images. Whilst the images are all fairly contained in terms of expanse, they reveal the overarching atmosphere of the racetrack and create moments of tension and drama within the narrative. Hugh cleverly gives each of the 3 species in attendance – the humans, the dogs, the hares – the same importance, giving us 3 perspectives from which to view the subject matter. A clever, beautifully observed story.
Selector's Comment: This series asks as many questions as it resolves and demands close inspection. Each scene is beautifully styled and composed, the positioning of the different elements in their rural or agricultural environment are posed as works of art, almost sculptural, perfectly inhabiting their space and seemingly sitting comfortably within therein. However, there is a tension and disturbing aspect, as it is clear these images cannot exist in reality, despite the pleasing aesthetic that they produce. Technically, the work is strong with the blurred line between what is real and what is manipulated well concealed. The choice of items, the location and the lighting all add to the drama to create a series of arresting images.
Selector's Comment: There were several well executed and beautifully staged projects among the submissions, but Swanton’s project stood out as one where the concepts and ideas were most thoroughly resolved within the images. There is humour and visual trickery in the images, but they still pack an emotional punch, proving to be unsettling and moving. The palette of the images creates a melancholic tone which is broken by the strong colours of clothes or items introduced into the scene. The series explores a deeply personal experience but manages to make it universal, using subtlety, humour and honesty to speak to common vulnerabilities.
Selector's Comment: The strength of this project is the way in which the most ordinary and familiar scenes and situations are elevated to something deeply unnerving. At times humorous, at times unsettling, the slight distortion of the norm is what makes the work so effective. Simplicity is the key and the isolation and framing of the scenes give energy to the work. The idea of subverting the familiar and asking questions of it is not new, but Stewart manages the subject matter with such confidence and skill, making use of an environment in which she is supremely comfortable, and showing a compositional eye that makes this work stand out.
Selector's Comment: This project stood out for the flawless execution of the images and for the bravery of the artist. What could have been a comedic inversion of the stereotypical roles played by women in historical postcards or pocket books, avoids that fate by virtue of attention to detail and the honesty and integrity of the artist and the vulnerability displayed. The work questions the idea of a male or female gaze and manages to create a tension and quiet violence in the well crafted mix of portraits and still life.
Selection by Emma Lewis ▸
Selection by Hannah Watson ▸
Director, Trolley Books.
View Submission Guidelines ▸