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.
It has been a real pleasure to be invited to select my favourite works from this year’s photography graduates. It is not often you get treated to such a comprehensive insight into what the next generation of artists are creating across the UK and Ireland, and I have been most impressed by the diversity of practice on display. This has been testament to the limitless possibilities of the medium, and it has been fascinating to see the ways in which graduates are continuously pushing its boundaries. The key thing I was looking for in this process was a belief in one’s ideas, and the confidence to carry it through a series in a coherent, unique manner. The six artists I have selected hold these values at the core of their practice, whilst displaying commendable aesthetic and conceptual rigour throughout.
Selector's Comment: I was instantly drawn in by the contemplative majesty of Shivani Patel’s work. Creating a visual dialectic between her South Asian and British identities, traditional textiles are both at harmony and clash with the natural surroundings, enveloping trees, rocks and at times becoming inseparable from the terrain. In many ways this relationship is evocative of the complex nuances of diasporic identity within Britain today. Through the depiction of Hindu ritual, and physical connectedness to these waters in the UK, Shivani cleverly highlights the natural world’s all-encompassing spirituality - void of both borders and judgement.
Selector's Comment: This is a brilliant concept for a staged photographic series – one that has evidently been meticulously thought-out and shot. However, what really drew me in, was the subtle sense of comedic irony that runs through each image. Using blissed-out pastel shading and hazy lighting, the humble tin can is comically elevated to the status of luxury goods. Through carefully crafted wry humour, Ella Lynch explores here themes of consumerism, the infinite power of aesthetic-driven advertising, and most importantly – our collective inability to withstand it. I’ll certainly take one!
Selector's Comment: What happens to memory when the space it inhabits is in constant renewal? This is the question that encapsulates James Keane’s body of work. Despite a somewhat stark and barren aesthetic encouraged by endless faded brick and concrete, a palpable sense of emotion, longing and determination permeates the core of this series. What I find so intriguing within the narrative, is the use of the documentation of architecture as a measure of space, time and memory; one that can ultimately enhance or destroy known realities.
Selector's Comment: Elliw Higham’s investigation into domestic family life is as intense as it is poignant. The series of photographs, played out in an almost Pinter-esque theatrical fashion, is fraught with tension, emotion and drama, as Elliw uses strategic spotlighting to highlight each family member and their animated state of being. The composition, which appears to evoke biblical iconography, gives the viewer both a seat at the table, and a feeling of isolation. We have stepped into a snapshot of daily life that is highly intimate and personal, yet universally understood.
Selector's Comment: Amongst the cold, built-up landscapes of Edinburgh’s suburbs, the strength and warmth of community thrives. Kasia Sowinska’s thought-provoking series investigates daily life within the city’s social housing, where a battle against low life expectancy and sense of disenfranchisement is fought by self-implicated neighbourhood support systems. Through forming a compelling bond with her protagonists, Kasia delivers utmost consideration and sensitivity within their photographic treatment, imbuing each individual with dignity and unique personality. This series expertly documents the human relationship with the built environment, and its inextricable link to the welfare, nurturing and disillusionment of urban communities. There is no unnecessary drama here, just a truthfulness and simplicity that is incredibly powerful.
Selector's Comment: Nadine Scarlett’s series is a celebration of black British identity, drawing on key historical moments and centres of the black experience in the UK. I was delighted to see fashion photography that was both very strong aesthetically, whilst placing key importance on cultural narrative - something often left out of more commercially orientated photographic practice. Nadine effortlessly highlights the undeniable and extensive cultural impact black Britons have had on our country’s development within the global sphere - creating a visual link between historical events and places, and the fashions and styles that grew from them is only testament to this. ‘An Ode To’ is a series that, from a contemporary perspective, travels beyond space and time to evoke the spirit of love, community, resilience and revolution.
Selection by Ella Ravilious ▸
Curator, Victoria & Albert Museum
Selection by Keith Cullen ▸
Founder, Setanta Books
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