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.
Looking at projects by emerging photographers, particularly this year during the Covid 19 crisis and lockdown, has been invigorating and rewarding. Discovering bodies of work that challenge thinking, explore complex subjects, provide new narratives and a fresh approach to a subject matter is the most enjoyable part of selecting work. Many of the submissions this year were bold, providing fresh perspectives on our world and personal stories of identity, belonging and heritage. The six projects I selected were consistent and outstanding bodies of work that were conceptually strong, focused, well executed and that conveyed themes that were universal concerns and personal stories that could be connected with on an emotional level. I was very impressed by the ambition and standard of the work.
Selector's Comment: This strong and evocative project interweaves alternative photography processes, cameraless techniques, archive material and found objects to provide a forensic, research and material project that is a response to the rise of independence in Wales through the subject of water and land. The photographer looks at the construction of largescale reservoirs in the Welsh countryside, which caused damage to the landscape, society and culture, as homes and communities were submerged to gather water for another nation. The project successfully examines the compulsory purchase of the land, approved by the British Government, to provide pumped water to the rapidly growing industrial city of Birmingham, and its impact.
Selector's Comment: This project stood out for me as a beautiful and simple documentary project that tells a story of family, home and personal history. The strength of the project is in the intimate story-telling and the affection that the photographer has for the subject. Each image is beautiful with its subtle play of light and careful framing. The images weave the story of a rural and remote location where life has barely changed and there is resistance to modernisation and a more contemporary life. Through the documentary you feel a compassion and a sense of loss as the village must surely change or disappear as the generation that remains ages and passes.
Selector's Comment: I liked the scale of the project, in execution and ambition, and found the work to be compelling and compassionate. The feelings of longing and not belonging are conveyed through singular figures and large scenes often without human presence where the photographer shoots from a distance. Unease and absence are tough elements to convey in a photographic project and yet here they are felt. There is a palpable anxiety and sadness and a longing for human connection amongst the solitude. This is a project for our time.
Selector's Comment: I was immediately intrigued by this beautifully shot and realised documentary project, where the garden is at the centre of the work and the two portraits of children, with their direct gazes, stare out at you questioning and accusing. The photographs of the garden are a sensory experience with the colour pallet and textures creating an immersive experience. This project is a subtle portrayal of lifestyle, culture, politics and the economy, and it has a conceptual rhythm and poetry that makes you want to be there and live that life, making you feel that you have been missing something fundamental.
Selector's Comment: he subject of this documentary project is a universal one, in that it tells the story of a minority and disregarded group and their relationship with the central and dominant power. In Yang’s work he looks at ancient Islamic culture in China and how it has always been unrecognised by the ruling classes. His work is of the Chinese Muslims who live in remote small communities near to borders and surrounded by vast mountain ranges. In this project the balance of epic, vast landscapes and more intimate stories of people and their way of life is very successful, evocative and poignant. The work successfully portrays the struggle and tension of the lives lived as well as being a strong documentary of marginalized people and place.
Selector's Comment: This bold project immediately stood out for me as a strong series of work that questions our photography history and demonstrates that photography is implicit in historical narratives and colonialism. Through using the archive and self-portraiture, Adekunle has the viewer look at race and representation, the fetishization and sexualisation of the black female body - legacies of colonialism, and the importance of decolonising photography.
Selection by Brenda Fitzsimons ▸
Picture Editor, The Irish Times.
Selection by Rebecca McClelland ▸
Creative Director & Curator, Ian Parry Scholarship.
View Submission Guidelines ▸