Congratulations to Kaede James Takamoto, winner of the 2021 Australian Photography Awards Open / Illustrative Category. Each year this category continues to expand our understanding of what a photograph can be.
Kaede’s image speaks to ideas of identity in a simple yet nuanced way. Drawing upon design, photography and physical manipulation, Kaede transforms an Australian cultural symbol into an artwork which asks important questions about what it means to be Australian. By positioning the Japanese rising sun on a VB can, a symbol associated with antiquated ideas of anglo-Australian culture, the resulting image reads like a self-portrait, not only reflecting Kaede’s identity but the broader experience of multiculturalism.
We would also like to congratulate Rebecca Murray and Rebecca Croft, recipients of Second and Third place respectively, as well as the other 20 finalists in this year’s Open / Illustrative category. We truly feel that this year is our strongest, most diverse gallery yet and that everybody who took part in APA 2021 should feel proud of their achievement.
Finally, our deepest gratitude to Nikon Australia, Momento Pro, Format Framing and Urth for supporting the Portrait category in 2021. It is through these organisation’s generous support that we are able to continue highlighting the most exciting Australian photography year after year.
DREAMING IN BLUE | Cyanotype is an early photographic process, of ‘cyan’ or dark blue impressions. Elemental compounds like iron, water and ultra violet light combine to make an image. River and creek waters from Wurundjeri Country have been embedded, from the Ferny Creek (beside my home) to the Yarra /Birrarung (further into the ranges). Plant matter, soil and shadows also form part of the process. Micro elements from places I know intimately create a macro impression of a landscape drawn only from my imagination.
UNTIMELY | I came across this dead White Cockatoo while walking the outskirts of my local lake. I was distraught when l noticed it’s cause of death was the fishing line entangled around its legs. When wildlife becomes entangled in fishing line a painful struggle ensues. The animal of this entanglement typically suffers feather damage, lacerations from the constricting line as they fight to escape. This deadly entrapment ultimately leads to exhaustion, starvation, dehydration and ultimately death if the animal is unable to free itself. *I have enhanced the fishing line for emphasis.
Wash Over You | I feel so incredibly grateful for this boy, for his life that saved mine. I made this image with him after having my annual scans for the breast cancer I was diagnosed with shortly before he was born. My mother wasn’t around for this chapter of my life, but if she had been there would have been moments when she said ‘Try to let it wash over you’ and this image has a little of her in it. Celebrating eight years cancer-free, I’m so happy to be here in this crazy, beautiful world.
Mahani Del Borrello
Play Area | From a tentatively titled series ‘I hear my mother calling’. Initially conceived to embody contrasting generational childhoods, the process of montaging the images inadvertently evoked latent feelings concerning the traditional gender-role of mother.
Documentation of a forest and the items illegally disposed at its edge, Tasmania. The obscured view intends to create frustration and obscuring of the scene that I experienced myself.
Mountain Ash 13 | The abstracted composition of this photograph encourages the viewer to see the beauty in the natural world through patterns, lines, form, and texture. It celebrates the majesty of a regenerating forest once devastated by bushfires, and now a multi-layered, mystical landscape–rich in texture and the detail of nature.
STILLEVEN 1 | Stilleven (still-life) paintings were popular in the Netherlands in the 1600’s symbolising an era of wealth, scientific advancement and creativity. Despite this, numerous outbreaks of Plague occurred which is analogous to today. ‘Stilleven’, a contemporary interpretation of these paintings is produced using scanography. Whilst both interpretations evoke serenity, they’re manufactured in different ways. Dutch masters spent months painting flowers grown in disparate regions and never simultaneously in-season. ‘Stilleven’ images speak to the cohesiveness of an ecosystem that Dutch still-life never spoke to. ‘Stilleven’ has been generated in less time with much of the process undertaken after the scan is created.
"Battle Cry" a fictitious battle scene rages on the beach of TaiTung Taiwan. Under the surveillance of China where zero tolerance for conversations of sovereignty or colonial history are accepted. From the series RED COATS + INDIANS / The GAMES we PLAY is a covert and subversive dialogue that reverses the narrative. Referencing 'cowboys + indians', Captain Cook, Japan and China we flip the script and the 'indians' are the heroes and win the battle, saving their lands, culture, people and sovereignty.
Reverberation Chamber | Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. These photographs mark the beginning of a long-term project documenting places of science and research, teaching and engineering, places that are unseen and unfamiliar to the majority. My intent is to reveal the accidental aesthetics and beauty that exists in these spaces built with form and function as a priority, exploring an idea of art intersecting with science and vice versa.
Infected Landscape #1 | Infected Landscape #1 is my response to the recent 2021 lockdown in Sydney. The virus had mutated; once again working with multiple exposures of the Cooks River, I decided to mutate my negatives. I made a makeshift lab in the basement of my home and exposed the processed negatives to biological materials. The growth of living organisms across the surface created an alternate reality that felt true to my experience, where breathing the air itself was dangerous.
White Light | This picture is from my series "On Route". The idea for this series had been simmering for several years and it wasn't till the lockdowns that I found the time to take my ideas and create the imagery. I am drawn to graphic, minimal images that feature recognisable urban subjects depicted in a somewhat detached, de-cluttered world, a world free from the noisy distractions of everyday life. The resulting works are somewhat ambiguous, leaving room for you – the viewer – to explore and interpret in your own way. Inviting you to discover your own emotional response.
Lacy hills | The trees on the hills around Araluen NSW were devastated in the 20-21 summer bushfires leaving the hills looking like they were covered in lace against the sky.
Melting tree | During the extended Sydney lockdown in 2021, night walks became my creative saviour. The empty streets and the cool winter air combined to inspire me to rediscover my local area. I became particularly enamuored with urban trees - the harsh, direct streetlights give them a whole new life in the evening. Here, a local fig tree is transformed into an eerie, wax-like form, seemingly dripping onto the pavement and into the road.
Flamingo | I saw this equatorial bird in Copenhagen Zoo. While zoos conserve endangered species and allow people like me to see animals we wouldn’t usually see, some animals are kept in environments that don’t suit them. Once common in Australia, flamingos became extinct when inland lakes evaporated, and all that remains are fossils. To create the feeling of an old portrait, in an imagined gothic interior, I layered photographs of damask wallpapers, weathered paint on a Richmond cottage, and painted cement board. The patterned background slightly camouflages the bird and seems a less starkly incongruent environment than a cement enclosure.
Calvin’s World | This composition reflects a small dog's view of the world. In black and white this lively couple reflect their strong bond in the form of dance and I like how the natural patterns on the sandstone wall behind frame them.
Fog and Ferry | I experienced fog in the city for the first time under the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge. I waited for the right moment to capture it while a ferry passed by.
In alphabetical order
Crates | This picture is from my series "On Route". The idea for this series had been simmering for several years and it wasn't till the lockdowns that I found the time to take my ideas and create the imagery. I am drawn to graphic, minimal images that feature recognisable urban subjects depicted in a somewhat detached, de-cluttered world, a world free from the noisy distractions of everyday life. The resulting works are somewhat ambiguous, leaving room for you – the viewer – to explore and interpret in your own way. Inviting you to discover your own emotional response.
Form | This picture is from my series "On Route". The idea for this series had been simmering for several years and it wasn't till the lockdowns that I found the time to take my ideas and create the imagery. I am drawn to graphic, minimal images that feature recognisable urban subjects depicted in a somewhat detached, de-cluttered world, a world free from the noisy distractions of everyday life. The resulting works are somewhat ambiguous, leaving room for you – the viewer – to explore and interpret in your own way. Inviting you to discover your own emotional response.
Rear Window 3 | I often walk the streets of my local rural town at night. I see things through windows. I wonder...whats going on there ? What is their story ? This image is part of a constructed series where I wanted to explore the questions of a life as seen from as a captured glimpse. Referencing cinematic Hitchcock style, mood and edginess, I wanted to explore and question what goes on behind the rear window.
Identity | “I no longer know who I am. I feel hollow within. Who am I?” This image gives us a sense of a loss of identity that people may have sadly felt when they lost their jobs or their sense of purpose during the COVID 19 pandemic. “Identity” is an extract from my photo series “The Lost Year”. This visual narrative follows the story of a young girl during the era of the COVID 19 pandemic as she struggles with isolation and mental health followed by pregnancy and childbirth.
8 (Petrichor series) | Step into the rock pool. See the shapes apparent, in those ripples. See the dark, and the light. See that when seeing, there is very little that is seen at all.
Double Helix | The double ribbon spiral design was inspired by the double helix structure of a DNA molecule. Incredible structures and lighting.
This project explores how a new perspective on landscape can be revealed through photomontage. Through stitching and manipulating multiple frames together, I aim to construct surreal sublime landscapes that encompass the embodied experience of the space, where a single image wouldn’t be sufficient.
Augie and Marlow in Merri Creek Rubbish Dresses 9 and 10, Strettle Wetlands | In this ongoing series, I have been gathering litter, rubbish and pollutants from the local urban creek and making them into garments. Then I photograph them being worn back in the original creek environment. The dresses contain mostly plastic bags, food wrappers, bottles, cans, and disposable gloves. When the dresses have been photographed, they get recycled or go to landfill.
This image I created for my 3rd-year bachelor's degree commercial folio at Photography Studies College Melbourne. It was created during the COVID-19 pandemic when students had no access to photographing at the college studio. I was forced to get creative with my shooting process and shot this in my garage using one flash and utilizing post-production to capture the final image
This image forms a part of my current work in progress titled, 'Waiting, Arrival, Departure'. This work questions if photography can assist in solidifying a personal narrative surrounding mortality. The camera makes a permanent object out of impermanent and changing subjects. A tree blooms with flowers only for a short time, while a sheet of film will one day expire.
African Daisies | We began to collect things, often flowers, on our walks during lockdown. I began to explore different techniques to document the found objects. I created a series of Lumen photographic prints to record these objects that would have otherwise been forgotten or would have perished.
The Old Man of the Sea | This image is taken from my series Αυτοπροσωπογραφία, which explores my identity as a gay, Greek man. Told through the lens of ancient mythology, each vignette represents a facet of who I am. Here, I take on the role of Nerues, the old man of the sea, and Nereids, the sea nymphs.
The Little Death | This little life had a big impact on our lives. On the sudden passing of our little dog, a tsunami of grief smashed over my family. What to do at this crystalline time? Compelled to envelop, honour and mourn we gathered. Collected. Assembled. Busy hands and broken hearts arranging a bounty of flora from the landscape we call home. Light a candle, cry tears, place love. This is life.
Steep Mist | This image captures the mystery and resilience of nature. Mist and rain rises up towards the sky in reverse from the bottom of the valley below, after plunging over the steep valley waterfall nearby. Along the ridgeline small outcrops of defiant trees grip to the rocky ledge soaking up the wet air and morning sunlight. Photographed on medium format black and white film, home developed and processed.
Agave Dance | Agave image captured as a single long exposure in-camera. I began exploring the agave plant as a subject and using this technique when we went into lockdown last year. My subject was readily available in my garden and continues to be a source of creative inspiration to explore and capture motion.
Windswept | In the summer the flowers fried in the strong winds of smoke as a reminder that it was all just nearby.
Latex - from a series on alternative collectors and lifestyles | On meeting this subject I quickly realised that being in latex was their absolute happy place. The colour in their life, their safe space to be vivacious, and confident. This pop art inspired piece was my playful celebration and comparison of this character.
My images come from a place of emotion, that ambiguous, sometimes hard to understand inner world. Therefore, I don’t necessarily have the words to describe this image, other than, this image is in relation to growth, notice the dark below then feeding upward through the figure and manifesting into the bare tree.
Climate Emotions | Spending time in the country during this pandemic has made me happy, but it hurts me to witness the vanishing of landscapes…
Keeping in Touch, Eco-Reflections series | In this creative process, I have set out to document the relationship between the natural world and the human spirit. I want to celebrate Nature and enhance the beauty in the world. To bring awareness to how we are emotionally affected by the ecological decline and convey the dialogue between the natural landscape and the reflected emotional landscape. I attempt to fit these two landscapes seamlessly, to create an abstracted natural environment, regardless of how each part seems otherworldly to the other.
Rainforest. 2018 | From a series I did exploring the concept of 'landscape' and examining how what we 'see' defines our depictions of it. Retracing the footsteps of Joseph Lycett in his various landscape depictions, it became apparent that they weren't as truthful as one may think. I created landscapes through digital photo collage.
Whispers in the Wind | For most people, walking has been a major feature of lockdown. Living near Kuringai Chase National Park meant I could lose myself in the bush, surrounded by incredible wildflowers.
Booya Dreaming | Suspended in a timeless dimension where the air is crisp but yet is also thick like invisible goo. The sculpture featured in this shot is called Tenants by artist Barbara Licha. An intriguing piece of work that inspires deep postulations of the philosophical kind. I have been watching Lisey's Story on Apple TV, a story born from the creative mind of a favourite author of mine, Stephen King, and this edit was inspired by the deeply slow simmering, haunting mood of the show.
TAXONOMY | The wealth of the British Empire was largely based on the discovery, classification and exploitation of plants, furthering colonial objectives of discovery, expansion and control. In Australia, introduced plants now outnumber known natives.
Wires | I was working on a series of photos of mannequins in Vietnamese shop windows. With street reflections. I was living in Vietnam. This was taken during Covid lockdown.The electrical wiring in Vietnam is a fascinating maze of spontaneous and creative workmanship. There was no escaping the wires reflecting in the windows. I wanted to record them in a way that was graphic and interesting. Somehow I felt that this image related to and reflected the challenges that we all had to deal with in dealing with the pandemic.
Sarah & Lucy Jenkins
It's Called Compromise | With restrictions of lockdown & life in general during the pandemic, we have all had to make compromises. We have needed to adapt to a new world & this image illustrates how compromises can be made while still enjoying ourselves. The basketball court is representative of a pool in a normal 'pre-COVID' world yet the girl had adapted &is seemingly enjoying the new normal
ANNIE | I've never shot a successful still-life photo before, this was the first. I like the way the eye is led around every area of the shot. Fun fact: the doll is a wind-up that plays music and also moves. A long time ago I modified her myself. Shot on 35mm Ilford delta 400 iso film on a Pentax KM. 2021
"It was an act of stealth and troubled pleasure" | From a series-in-progress exploring decay, cycles, and transitional states of being. Inspired by 18th Century botanical catalogues - notably the Banks Florilegium - and the contrasting ideals about Nature from the Romantic movement. While The Florilegium lays nature bare in minute detail to be catalogued, analysed, ordered and understood, the Romantics revered Nature the mysterious source of Sublime experience, beyond rational understanding. The photograph can hang between these two ideals: at once overtly descriptive, yet at the same time evoking a different form of understanding that transcends the cerebral.
This moment will fade like the clouds above us | This photo is a nostalgic portrait, aiming to evoke the sense of a hazy memory, a glimpse of another time, or a passing sentiment. Through the abstracted imagery the viewer can apply their own personal interpretation and find comfort within that, similar to closing one’s eyes to remember an old memory. I have abstracted the image in-camera using household objects, with expired black and white film. These elements further emphasise the sentimentality, as well as the unexpected quality and the unique tonal details of the final photo.
Queens Bridge | For over 100 years Queens Bridge has reached across the Yarra River to the ever-growing skyline of Melbourne.
Anechoic Chamber | Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. These photographs mark the beginning of a long-term project documenting places of science and research, teaching and engineering, places that are unseen and unfamiliar to the majority. My intent is to reveal the accidental aesthetics and beauty that exists in these spaces built with form and function as a priority, exploring an idea of art intersecting with science and vice versa.
The loss of air, starvation of light, oxygen, necessity. A vacuum, immense depth Fills lungs like carbon Dioxide.
Stay Away | The space between us has increased. 1.5 meters to be exact. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the government and health officials have advised the world to practice social distancing, which among other rules involves being a certain distance away from those around us, actively trying to avoid touching others and limiting the number of people at gatherings, or outlawing gatherings completely. There are some who are terrified of getting close to anyone, and won't let anyone enter their personal space, and then there are people who are less worried, and others who dont care about the rules at all. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the government and health officials have advised the world to practice social distancing, which among other rules involves being a certain distance away from those around us, actively trying to avoid touching others and limiting the number of people at gatherings, or outlawing gatherings completely.There are some who are terrified of getting close to anyone, and won't let anyone enter their personal space, and then there are people who are less worried, and others who dont care about the rules at all.What are or have been the social distancing rules where you live?