Congratulations to Rebecca Griffiths, winner of the 2021 Australian Photography Awards Student Category.
Rebecca’s image, titled Hidden Self, is an evocative artwork which combines portraiture with cameraless photography. The image presents us with a highly staged, theatrical portrait. Nothing in the photograph feels left to chance, the artwork is rich in detail with both direct referencing to ‘Hidden Self’ and layed with metaphors. What appears to be flower petals placed on the sitter’s eyes, for us, also references a butterfly, which draws links to notions of freedom, femininity and becoming.
Our committee felt a portrait like this can only be achieved through a collaborative framework, we felt this was central to the intimacy, vulnerability and trust needed to produce such a work. On deeper reflection our committee interpreted the piece as an invitation to reposition notions of formative gender, furthering an important conversation.
We would also like to congratulate EJ Hassan and Forrest Beasley-Birch, recipients of Second and Third place respectively, as well as the other 20 finalists in this year’s Student category.
Finally, our deepest gratitude to The Brownbill Effect, Nikon Australia, Urth and Format Framing for supporting the Student 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.
Feeling Alive |This image is part of a series exploring identity, memory, what is real and what we want to be real. My son Beau playing in our front yard in the middle of Winter 2021, during our sixth lockdown in Melbourne. It is 7 degrees and he has been our there for half an hour, he tells me he just wants to feel alive.
I see another story in the dark. The night is a quiet time with less distraction. The world moves at a slower pace in the silence. I am a wanderer, an explorer between shadows and light. The liminal veil is a place where a transition occurs between the threshold and the place that waits before us. These are landscapes of sorts; they are images of recesses. These suburban hollows are constructed records of mood ridden scenes with deep chiaroscuro velvet blacks where we find ourselves alone in a dark world.
Self portrait #2 | In the darkness of another lockdown, rumination on the self and all it's endeavours.
Grandpa John and His Firewood | My Grandfather, proudly standing next to his firewood, prepping for the following winter. He gathers, chops and stacks this wood as it's the primary heating for their home. I've been with him a few times recently, hunting for firewood. He has been building this pile ever since my Mother was in high school.
On the side of a highway, Beautiful premonitions, Of apocalyptic futures, still lay unnoticed.
Hannah Le Leu
Against All Odds | A Green Sea Turtle hatchling cautiously surfaces for air to a sky full of hungry birds. Against all odds, this hatchling must battle through the conditions of a raging storm whilst evading a myriad of predators. Not only has the tropical storm brought out thousands of circling birds, but there are also patrolling sharks and large schools of fish on the hunt for baby turtles. Only 1 in 1000 of these hatchlings will survive, will this one survive against all odds?
Warehouse 3 | This photo was part of a small series I shot in outer-Melbourne, with the intention of dealing with themes of man-made structures, global capitalism, the banal, and infinite horizontal scenes. In shooting the scenes I found the sense of space and solitude really calming and that’s what I really tried to capture.
Shadows of Dad: This is a portrait of my father, John, just before he died earlier this year aged 96. As his memory faded, he spent more time living in the past, remembering his childhood in regional Victoria and going off to fight in World War Two in New Guinea as soon as he turned 18. His posture is of a child but his resolute gaze is of a strong man who's survived battles. The shadows represent both complex past experience and the tangled neurones that so often characterise our elders' final battle with the indignity of memory loss.
Kai | October and in our sixth lockdown in Melbourne, we have lost count of how many days we have been living like this. Kai, 12 years old and in his final year of primary school. Wearing his dressing gown at 11am on a Tuesday morning, he retreats to a familiar place dreaming about when he will be back at school with his friends.
This body of work explores the politics of labor as a colonial tool. Yipeng, a dancer from China, emigrated to Australia to dance with The Australian Ballet. He has been here for 8 years only because of what his body can do.
Katherine Grace Hill
Drained | For me with this last lockdown in particular, I have felt so burnout and drained from the demand of the lockdown in conjunction with trying to juggle everything (work and uni wise). This self-portrait is a reflection of the internal emotions and feelings becoming actualised externally and the demand of it all taking its toll, draining the life and hope out of everyone.
Perpetual peace | From the series Wear Are You This highly stylised photographic work is made in collaboration with local designers and stylists in Melbourne and contains images of handmade pieces to high end garments, articulating the multitude ways in which fashion can form and shape our understanding of identity.
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.
In alphabetical order
String Theory | "String theory is an attempt at a deeper description of nature by thinking of an elementary particle not as a little point but as a little loop of vibrating string" E Witten. Image captured on Fuji Velvia 50 4x5, and converted to greyscale.
Last One | The only tree left standing after a wildfire rips through the remote Peterman ranges in Central Australia. Shot on a Linhof Technorama film camera.
Babushka | This image was part of a series i was working on studying at psc, on my grandma's life during covid lockdowns as she is dealing with diabetes, vertigo & arthritis, and also taking care of her husband who has stage 4 cancer. with this series i looked into how these dark lockdowns compare to the many things she lived through growing up in soviet Ukraine i.e. Chernobyl, ww2, The Terror Famine Holodomor, and much much more.
From behind the protecting arms of those closest to her, the little girl glances towards me and in that brief moment is a look into her eyes, one that leaves you looking, questioning and wanting to engage. A brief moment captured that engaged me and lead me to learn about and explore the community of Mirrnatja with those who proudly shared their experiences and knowledge with me.
Parra Speedway | This was taken at one of the last racers at the Parramatta Speedway, drivers had a point to prove before the race track was demolished for apartments.
This photograph is part of an ongoing series documenting the industrial histories of Walkerville; a coastal town of roughly 200 properties in the South Gippsland area of Victoria, Australia. Between the mid 1870's and 1925 the town was established primarily as accommodation for the workers of the lime kilns along the Waratah Bay coastline. The lime products were freighted to the surrounding rapidly developing areas—predominantly Melbourne and Sydney. Production ceased completely after just 50 years. because the local resources had been decimated by the overwhelming demand.
Whats Left Behind | This image was captured over a iron mine, The tailing dam contains by products from the mining process. The colours and texture are both both beautiful and disturbing.
Breathe From the series Wear Are You | This highly stylised photographic work is made in collaboration with local designers and stylists in Melbourne and contains images of handmade pieces to high end garments, articulating the multitude ways in which fashion can form and shape our understanding of identity.
Tabular | A colossal tabular iceberg, carved off the Antarctic continent, floats northward towards the notorious Drake Passage. Our ship cruised by this icy giant, framed by the dark sky and ocean and leaving all those standing before it in awe.
Timber Mountains | This photograph is a part of a larger series titled 'Fell' which is a documentation of the timber industry and forest degradation within the Yarra State Forest in Melbournes outer East. This image was taken at a timber mill at the base of the forest and is surrounded by 360 views of lush mountainous range. The atmosphere of the mill is sad and deflating as the timber gather and intertwine on muddy earth. There is a contrasting nature of the piles of wood against the large hills that form the backdrop of this location.
BOING! | Woylies are extremely rare Australian marsupials facing extinction. This one has just been released back into the wild after a brief capture to assist with conservation efforts by the Australian Wildlife Conservancy.
Terminus: (Latin for: End, Limit, Boundary)(Modern English for: End of a railway line) | The final image of a series focusing on an unwinnable battle against mental illness. The series utilises the greek journey to the underworld mythos to visually represent Clinical Depression. In this final Image, the protagonist of the odyssey is faced against tartarus, depicted as a void of insurmountable scale and magnitude. The void is a common term used in the mental health Zeitgeist, it explains that depression is not sadness, rather a numbness. It cannot be explained as an emotion, rather a lack of emotion, A void.
Kaede James Takamoto
"I have to rewire my brain" (Ricochet Series) | Being a child of divorce I have felt the effects of my parents failed marriage influence my perceptions of conflict and relationships throughout my life. I’ve discussed with others on numerous occasions how they view marriage, commitment, love, and potentially having kids of their own, and how that has been affected by their experience of divorce, and I’ve found that everyone has alternate takes on the matter. This image was shot while interviewing a young man who opened up about the anxieties and pain he still feels as a young adult as a result of divorce.
Justin standing on the shore of Lake Macquarie, New South Wales shortly after us meeting for the first time.
Portrait of a stranger on the street. Are we losing touch with one another? | In what feels like one of the most divisive times in recent past, it seems clear that the path forward is to reconnect with one another rather than turn our backs in distrust.
While covering a horse clinic in Tamworth, I clicked this photo of a cowboy and his horse working together separate from the group with a light rain in the background.
WEIGHT | We drag our limbs, they lean they drop. Our bodies carry one another as we move in a stream of pain, elation, and strength. I am your core, and you stand high and posed as mine. I have dropped my bones and they feel are brittle and tender. My light is dim your light is soft dropped in weight you hold me as I wait.
The Masks we Wear | We shield and protect ourselves in different ways. Masks are a blanket of comfort to hide behind, armour to create safety for oneself. When do you feel you?
Trust in the Lord | An old regional church left standing in a farm field as attrition drove the local community off the land and into larger towns.
Thats life. (P. Lattanzio 2021) | 94 year old, Pasqua Lattanzio worked in a sand paper factory in Victoria in the 1970's where she lost her right index finger in a machine accident. The machine's safety guard had been taken off the piece of equipment prior to this event. The family received a $12,000 settlement for the damages.
Bin Chickens | Just you average day at the tip, the 65% of rubbish that does not make it to being upcycled. Yet the Ibis have managed to find their way to survive amongst the human waste. Nature always finds a way..
ZUMA BEACH, MALIBU | Summertime in LA can get HOT! My Guam pal, Kat, parks up on a beach bench waiting for the ice-cream cart to make its way over to us. Icy Pole anyone?
Healing Horse | I find a field full of young horses, some of them still sleeping. I patiently observe the horses for some time, they are aware of my presence. A part of me surrenders to this present moment, I feel myself transform from exhilaration to a peaceful presence of mind. This is where the mediative process begins, now I’m surrounded by them deep breathing, I become part of the herd, breathing together, it’s a very special experience.
Rick | This is from a series of portraits that focuses on the mental health of men and breaking down stereotypes associated with them. When asked what was their most vulnerable moment, their facial expressions convey the emotion that they typically struggle to express, resulting in a side-by-side comparison of their journey through the emotions.
Adrift | A Leafy Seadragon majestically drifting through the cool waters of Edithburgh, South Australia. This species is tremendously hard to spot and often goes unnoticed as it camouflages amongst the underwater flora. When I found this leafy, I couldn't help but admire its unique beauty.
BLINK AND YOU MISS IT | After rain comes a rainbow, BUT IT DOESN'T LAST FOREVER! I saw this outside my window just after the hail. Nothing motivational, just the rainbow at the right angle, the sun coming through the right way.
Being born and raised in a village on a small island in Greece gave me certain experiences that shaped my childhood. Migrating to Australia in 2012 when I was eighteen years old shook me and my understanding of everything but most importantly the understanding of what is home. In this project I am looking into how I can use memories from my childhood and adulthood in a way to connect the two different Me’s. The Me growing up in Greece and the Me becoming an adult in Australia, through my relationship with the people that link those two worlds.
A handmade banner that spells Lajja meaning Shame' in Hindi (right to left) frames Ayahs TV - as a reminder that she has certain privileges that other Arab women lack. The banner stares at her each night as she watches videos by Arab creators in a bid to transform Lajja into Fakhar, pride, for her roots.
Phil and Phil | Our self perception is almost always completely and utterly wrong. Who you think you are is not actually who you are.
Phenomena | This image was exposed in the colour darkroom using a custom negative made from hand sanitiser and permanent marker.
Self Portrait | taken from series "13 metres square & an exploration of light and skin", 2020 A series exploring body image and insecurities made during lockdown in 2020.
Dinosaur Family out for a Walk | Dinosaur Family out for a Walk, the frame of this image allows you to see a ‘family of dinosaurs out for a walk’. This is fleeting, as looking a moment longer dispels disbelief and you see they are merely Ivy hedges. This pushes the notion of looking and perceiving in opposite directions, where you encounter a momentary double take on initially seeing. It is only then, that we realise things are not always what they seem.
When working on this series I wanted to take the viewer back to the 1950’s. Beautiful bouncy hair, red lips and Marilyn Monroe, very much Hollywood glamour. Capturing her beauty in her bedroom whilst she gets ready for her day.
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 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.