Congratulations to Lily Hatten, winner of the 2021 Australian Photography Awards Portrait Category. Each year this category continues to push the boundaries of what a portrait can be.
As our portrait committee considered Lily’s photograph, we saw an image of motherhood which transcends the individual and speaks of a collective experience. Historically our society has viewed motherhood through a narrow lens. Our committee felt that Lily’s image expanded upon this view in a simple, yet effective manner. As our society attempts to better understand parenthood, Lily’s photograph tenderly depicts this complex human narrative, encompassing both love and uncertainty.
We would also like to congratulate Su Cassiano and Forrest Beasley-Birch, recipients of Second and Third place respectively, as well as the other 2021 finalists in this year’s Portrait 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 Kayell 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.
Liam used to self harm when using drugs. Mapped in the scars is Liam's struggle with the pressures of a rigid masculinity, and the visual trace of his complex relationship with his father. Liam's dad, an Australian veteran of the Vietnamese war, suffers from PTSD. Growing up in ‘bloke’ culture, where feelings are deemed weaknesses and pain can be endured, Liam was craving paternal affection and recognition. Liam was never hugged by his dad, but he inherited his trauma. Extract from an ongoing series about masculinity in Australia
Bonnie and Josie, waiting | Bonnie, 36 weeks pregnant, with Josie - her best friend, platonic life-partner and co-parent. I had the privilege of spending an afternoon with these two women at Josie’s house during this magical and sacred time in-waiting. I wanted to capture the deep, tender connection shared between two lifelong friends in a way that was intimate, honest, and sensitive. Mooloolah, QLD.
Danny Abood was a member of the ground-breaking 70’s performance art troupe Sylvia and the Synthetics. As a performer, Danny revelled in going beyond what others were comfortable with. Danny Diptych Danny called me when he went into Palliative Care, asking me to bring my camera when I visited him. Bearing witness to my friend's suffering was harrowing and confronting, but I honoured his wishes. The last thing he said to me was: “We always said we'd do this to the end”. Left - Our first drag shoot, NYC, 1987. Right- 3 days before his death, 2021.
Tani and her daughters in the garden | A tender moment shared between Tani and her daughters in the garden, on the property she grew up on and explored as a child. I found myself lost in the play of shadows and the painterly quality of the morning light dancing over them. Gympie, QLD.
Tommy (they/Them) “I feel most at ease and in my body when I feel safe. Safe in the space I’m in and also the people I’m around. Feeling sexy comes in different forms for us all and the intimacy of the dim light in this image made me feel so warm and held.”
In reverse | Fourteen now, there are moments, small glimpses, easy to miss, when the teaching, the eye-opening, the holding-up happens in reverse. I am her mother, but somewhere in the blur of lockdown existence, she shows me how to parent, how to see.
This is Tony, my mentor and best friend. He taught me a lot of things about life and photography. I remember this day like it was yesterday. He had just finished teaching me how to load my first roll of 35mm film. This is my first ever film photo. Years later I found Tony dead in his bed, he had suffered a heart attack. I developed the roll years later to discover this portrait, the spirit of Tony.
The Village, A Village | By juxtaposing an image from my family archive with a staged self-portrait, The Village, A Village contemplates my own absence from my grandparent's homeland of Croatia. By drawing parallels between myself and the women in the archival photograph (imitating gestures such as the hands), the two images engage in a reciprocal yet disjointed and dislocated conversation. They speak to the strange absence/presence of the self within a family that has been separated by migration.
13 | My daughter in a derelict apple orchard that has been sold off for subdivisions. Part of an ongoing series "An Australian Dream" exploring the connection between nostalgic childhood memories and the subconsciousness of The Great Australian Dream. Officer, Vic
Gori | Blood Generation is the name that was given to those children who were born into war, triggered from external interests in mining and sustained by acts of local political self-determination. In 1990, the people of Bougainville lived under air, sea, and military blockade for ten years with a reported loss of twenty thousand lives. Bougainville's Indigenous landowner's remain disheartened, displaced, and dissatisfied. The issue remains unresolved and we ask ourselves - who is responsible for the "Blood Generation”.
Tenuous | Claire reflects on the fleeting life of the tiny and fragile baby bird. Life can be tenuous and may last only for a moment. Or, it can be long and richly experienced. As she grows older, Claire also reflects on her own life. A life she describes as being blessed. Now in her mid eighties, Claire continues to live her rich life with absolute joy.
Finding Dorothy | Part of an ongoing series of anonymous childhood portraits, depicting the ways children construct identity by immersing themselves in both their physical environments and private inner worlds.
'Phil and Phil' | Our self perception is almost always completely and utterly wrong. Who you think you are is not actually who you are.
In alphabetical order
Friends | How lucky we are to have such a friend like Pat, for endlessly letting the kids work beside him without hurrying them, being patient and letting them make mistakes and learn and take everything in at their own pace. The imprint on our lives from you is a big one. A true man of the bush, if only there were more people with his way of looking at life. Thankfully my children I know will forever be better because of him.
Great Grandma | Before covid we used to visit Great Grandma at least every month. She keeps reminding us she is 99, (not that we'd forget). She's so excited about turning 100 on January 1st 2022. She always stands on the porch and waves at us as we leave. We have really missed seeing her during the COVID lockdowns.
Jake | A week after this capture we were on the phone every 6 hours. Stuck in a hotel in Mosul - Afghanistan. The Taliban had taken the region overnight, leaving Jakein a bomb-proof hotel awaiting imprisonment or execution. Friday we stressfully discussed plans of extraction via the roof of his secure hotel via blackhawk. Saturday, the plan turned to being smuggled out in the boot of an Afghans taxi. Sunday, Kabul had fallen and men were falling from the sky on our social feeds. Monday...the Taliban peacefully escorted him to the border.
Laura | Founder of clothing the gap & the 'free the flag' movement. This woman is who our daughters & sons should idolise.
Lighthouse | There's no school when you've got a cold. Sniffles these days, means a determined stick up the nose and isolation while the outside world moves on. We can wait; we're used to it now.
Rosalind | Rosalind takes me for a swim in her home county Shropshire, on a trip to explore the mythology and folklore the county is famous fo
Steptoe and Son | A broken wheel axel during a road trip through the Norther Territory led me to the back road mechanics shed of Steptoe and Son. There they managed to weld the broken axel together enough for us to make it back to Darwin.
Oliver - Portrait taken (2021) | This portrait is part of a new ongoing series ‘Nightfall’ which celebrates the beauty of queer Asian Australians. What lies beneath these evocative and delicate images is a dialogue which questions the subjects’ relationship to their own aesthetic validity. Oliver openly discussed the complexities they faced when conventional and even supposedly inclusive queer culture places euro-centric versions of beauty at its pinnacle.
Shaun | Proud Kokatha man Shaun Burgoyne poses for a portrait at the Hawks Waverley Park training facility. In AFL round 16 2021 Shaun would become only the 5th player to reach 400 VFL/AFL games played and the first Indigenous man to reach the milestone. June 28th 24, 2021 in Melbourne, Australia.
Les | Les was catching some warmth from the winter sun as he pondered whether to run the mower over his lawn. He is 97 and keeps his huge yard as neat as a bowling green.
Looking through the Window 2021 | “Over the years, I’ve explored the greater significance of my scars, not only in terms of body image, but as silent repositories of somatic memories. Scars contain fear, pain, rage, grief, shame, courage and hope. They are testament to our deepest pleas for life and darkest battles with death. By their very nature, they embody a higher human truth. Together with sickness and physical decline – scars unify us with all other sentient beings.” Tereza is a recipient and survivor of 2 organ transplants. First from her mother, 2nd an anonymous donor.
Gina's Debu | Gina was her grandmother’s name who encompassed everything she wanted to be – fierce yet warm, strong yet vulnerable, confident yet humble. Gina didn’t let others tell her what to do, how to be, or who she is or isn’t. Gina grew up in a time where showing one’s body like this would have been controversial and associated with a certain line of work. But the Gina today has the luxury of the freedom of self-expression. She defines her own sexuality, reclaims her femininity, and an exemplar for body positivity. She is Gina, reimagined.
Come Knit the Sun Down | This portrait captures Elle Evangelista and her large scale knitted work Come Knit the Sun Down, which is constructed using the body. The work is about resisting the digital and disconnected past year we’ve all had, by facilitating an environment for conversation, movement and community restoration. Through indulging in time, this is a tender form of resistance against the capitalist post-pandemic rush to return.
Ok Pretty | Captured here are Madeleine and Adela, queer couple from Brisbane pop duo, Ok Pretty. They lay confidently on top of burnt cane fields, surrounded by vibrant green capes and bright, fresh, plants. The dirt and ash symbolising what has come before them, a shedding of the past, while the green breaks through in contrast representing renewal and growth.
Female Monologues | Female Monologues is a project exploring and documenting real women in real circumstances through photography. This project has grappled with the social phenomenon of body shaming, appearance anxiety, self-acceptance, and self-identity. And also aims to subvert the concept and traditional female nude imagery that has been framed and used as an ‘object’ in the arts under the dominance of the male gaze.
Self Portrait #1 | In the darkness of another lockdown, rumination on the self and all it's endeavours.
I think this image captures why we as humans are one with our outer world. The elements of human and nature morph together effortlessly. I simple yet powerful idea.
Griffin Pictured at 12 years, emerging in plain clothes after spending a childhood in costume.
Kaitlin Tinker is a WA-based performance artist, filmmaker, mother to Osh and fulltime stepmother to 4 other children. She directs underground cabaret shows and short films, and often travels around Australia's fringe festivals with her work. She is currently in development on EARTHSIDE - a solo show in response to her experiences of birth trauma and PND.
This photograph, shot in camera as a double exposure, was taken whilst Desmond Sweeney was under hypnosis.. Part of an ongoing project with clinical hypnotherapist Rachel Crethar, conceived during a period of isolation due to Covid-19 in 2020, we wanted to look at our individual and universal capacity to call upon and connect with inner joy and unconditional love using memory, the subconscious mind and portraiture as witness. This process seems to almost tear the fabric of time, offering a deeply rich, subconsciously sensorial re-experiencing; a catharsis leaving one further connected to self, joy and love.
This photograph of Emilie was taken as part of a project I was working on as an artist-in-residence in Sweden, photographing professional dancers, looking at the human spirit.
Paul Keating | Former Prime Minister Paul Keating is one of those so called, hard to get people, so when you have the opportunity to photograph such a person, you jump at the chance. When he agreed to be photographed it coincided with my annual leave, but it was too good and rare an opportunity to miss out. He is one of the all-time great combative and reformist leaders of our time, so the decision was simple. Especially with the NSW Covid numbers in the early stages of a steep rise, a lockdown scenario was looming.
Martha | It was an incredibly moving experience photographing singer, songwriter and artist Martha Marlow for this story. I wanted Martha to look as though she was appearing out of a natural wilderness. All dressed in white linen, looking youthful and beautiful, the image is a reflection of her natural and calm style of folk inspired music and poetic lyrics. Martha was recently diagnosed with a devastating autoimmune condition, Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS), which explains at least some of her “sinister symptoms”. She needs a walking stick to get around and occasionally requires a wheelchair.
Climb Down | As a child growing up at the beach you know the tides, the wind, the weather. At the time you have no idea how much you are learning and how much your experiences are shaping the person you will become. The memories we have stay with us as we grow and change, and sometimes we forget these moments. Try not to let them pass you by.
Maybe Cool Comes From Within | ‘I’d Rather Talk Privately’ is an image from collaborative series exploring a young girls search for identity and belonging. “I feel stressed that I need to be this kind of person...but I’m not. I feel like I need to be someone that the boys like…but I’m not. I feel like I need to be cool, to wear my uniform a certain way, to play certain games. They all wear scrunchies and they all have phones. Maybe none of that makes you cool. Maybe being cool comes from the inside.” Eve, 10 years.
Mother, ten years | This self portrait is part of a larger body of work called "Good Lord, leave your Mother alone." In this image my youngest daughter has clipped a braid to my hair and is seen grabbing at my breast -something I can't stand and at the same time miss. One of many dualities of Motherhood. Photographing my relationship with my daughters always leads me to love, expansion, and wonder; away from resentment... perhaps because I'm doing the very thing I was begging to be 'alone' to do.
‘Sajeda and Asma’ | Sajeda and her daughter are Rohingya refugees who reside in the western Sydney suburb of Lakemba. Arriving by boat in 2013 they have been caught inside Australia’s fraught resettlement process, while also creating home in their safe haven. The two are remembering memories of their time on the boat journey to Australia when they feared drowning in the 150-feet boat packed with 100 other migrants. Sajeda wore this white scarf during the journey, her mother had gifted it to her as a lucky charm to arrive safely to wherever she would flee to from Myanmar.
Fanny Lumsden | Tooma Touring Country musician Fanny Lumsden, on her farm in Tooma, with her caravan 'Millie'. Part of my "encore" personal project reflecting on the impacts of lockdown on the Australian music scene
Taken on the verandah of the family home in the remote community of Maningrida, Arnhem Land. The Rostron family are a family of creative artists, musicians and carers of Country.
Prick | It was my first trip away from my daughter, he picked me up and we hit the road. Over 600km of bitumen, gravel and dirt ahead. From thick fog to blistering sun, nature revealed her magnificence! Headed to a place like home for him, I had no solid plan, other than to photograph him. It had been sixteen years since we last did this; I wanted to carry with me all the lessons learned along the way. In hope of returning to myself… The open road sparked embers of nostalgia; memory always coloured by love, loss, and everything between.
Eileen Kramer | Dancer and Choreographer Eileen Kramer is probably the oldest working professional in the country. Born in 1914 in Sydney she has lived and worked in many countries, particularly the United States. She came back to Australia in 2016 when I had the honour of filming her 100th Birthday Party. Now she continues to devise impressive dance performances in which she may take part in a limited way. I took this photograph of her last year while filming a dance video.
Shadows | This is a studio portrait of one of my classmates. I just wanted to get the assignment over and done with honestly and this took me one go at developing a print and I NAILED it. I haven't covered any studio classes yet at Melbourne Polytechnic so the model gave me a hand and also shot me in the process. He handled most of the lighting etc. but this was my desired result. 35mm ilford delta 400 iso shot with my Pentax KM. 2021
Max at the dam | From the series, On the Nature of Things. (A body of work in progress.)
Russel and the Panguna Mine | Blood Generation is the name that was given to those children who were born into war, triggered from external interests in mining and sustained by acts of local political self-determination. In 1990, the people of Bougainville lived under air, sea, and military blockade for ten years with a reported loss of twenty thousand lives. Bougainville's Indigenous landowner's remain disheartened, displaced, and dissatisfied. The issue remains unresolved and we ask ourselves - who is responsible for the "Blood Generation”.
Jedi and the Mona | Blood Generation is the name that was given to those children who were born into war, triggered from external interests in mining and sustained by acts of local political self-determination. In 1990, the people of Bougainville lived under air, sea, and military blockade for ten years with a reported loss of twenty thousand lives. Bougainville's Indigenous landowner's remain disheartened, displaced, and dissatisfied. The issue remains unresolved and we ask ourselves - who is responsible for the "Blood Generation”.
‘Integrity means being whole, unbroken, undivided. It describes a person who has united the different parts of their personality so that there ’s no longer a split in the soul. Patriarchy encourages men to surrender their integrity and to live lives of denial.' Bell Hooks ‘I grew up with four sisters and no brothers. My sisters would dress me up in their clothes. My dad wasn’t macho he was very loving and domesticated. Ive never been comfortable with Australian blokey culture. I’ve been working in a female dominated industry for 13 years. I’m more comfortable being around women than men.’
Amy Taylor | Amy Taylor is the front woman of Amyl and the Sniffers. Portrait from the 'What Does International Women's Day Mean to Me' series
Testing Time | As the malnutrition due to Gastroparesis rises, and the medications change due to that very same reason, frequent testing must be done to ensure that no ill effects are happening to the body in the process.
Merry Xmas Mr. P | There's nothing more enjoyable than an afternoon coffee, cake catch-up to hear of the yearly adventures of this special family, I have been visiting for decades. Mr.P was super excited to share the year's Christmas gift an irresistible moment worth capturing.
Then and Now | After the second World War Australia's new immigration policy to accept non-British European immigrants commenced, opening the door to many of our ancestors. Margot age 20 moved to Australia from Germany, now 88 she has outlived 2 husbands, 3 children, 9 grandchildren and 19 great grandchildren, she is pictured here alongside one of her great granddaughters.