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The Accademia Apulia Award 2011

Image by Carlo Draisci

Image by Carlo Draisci

The Accademia Apulia Photography Award is a competition which seeks to promote the work of new and emerging photographers, and deals with some of the key issues facing those living in Europe today. For the 2011 competition the judges are looking for photographers who can shed light on that oldest of human stories – migration.

This years award will be judged by Diane Smyth of the British Journal of Photography, Jennifer Francis of the Royal Academy of Art, and Susan Jenkins of The Art Newspaper amongst others. The shortlisted artists and winners will then be exhibited at the prestigious Royal Horseguards in London at a show curated by Elisa Canossa of the V&A.

In last years competition my work reached the final, with my images receiving fantastic exposure across the UK and Europe. The awards evening in London was also an event which gave me the chance to talk to art collectors, curators and photographers whom I have long admired such as Kash Gabriele Torsello.

I would urge any photographer who is interested to get involved and submit an entry before the deadline of December 30th. For more information I’ve included the press release below:

Migration, Stores of a Journey

The fundamental principle of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights”, however whilst for many migration is a positive experience, many others endure human rights violations, exploitation and xenophobia.

The focus of Accademia Apulia Photography Award 2011 aims to highlight Migrants’ struggle and difficulties as well as to show Migrants’ many accomplishments and contributions as successful members and leaders of the new host society in which they now live.

Migration, Stores of a Journey is under the Patronage of Amnesty International, the British Council, The European Commission and the international Organisation for Migration.

Entrants will be assessed by leading figures in the fields of Photography and Journalism:

Barbara Roche – Migration Museum Project, Diane Smyth – British Journal of Photography, Jennifer Francis – The Royal Academy of Arts, John Ingledew – University of Gloucestershire, Lucilla and Fabrizio BarbieriCoppi Barbieri, Stefano Tura – RAI, Steve Macleod – Metro Imaging, Susan Jenkins – The Art Newspaper.

The three finalists will be revealed on 10 January 2012 and the winner on 10 Feb 2012. Their works will be showcased in a group exhibition curated by Elisa Canossa at the Royal Horseguards in London. The three finalists will be flown in as guests of Accademia Apulia for two nights. The winner will also receive a 1,000 Euros cash prize.

The Accademia Apulia Photographic Award is an annual international competition, open to photographers of all nationalities based in the European Union. The Award is designed to promote Cultural Diversity between communities across Europe.

The closing date for entries is 30th Dec 2011

Please visit and click here to learn more about the competition!


Finalist for Accademia Apulia Award

Gladstone Library, Royal Horse Guards

On the 1st of December it was announced here that I am a finalist for the Accademia Apulia Award to be held at Royal Horseguards in London in February 2011.

I’m up against two very talented Italian photographers, Matteo Sandrini and Stefano Morelli, whose work deals with concepts of multi-ethnicity, and those on the fringes of society such as the Roma people.

Both of these photographers have responded to the theme of cultural diversity and Genius Loci admirably, however my own inclusion amongst them may raise some eyebrows.

I have adopted a non-traditional approach of using a white male figure to depict diversity, which you can read more about here. For those who are interested here is my original artist statement to Accademia Apulia about the series:

“The Sonnets series of photographs attempt to explore both a local Scottish identity within a larger multicultural context, while also trying to question traditional visions of the landscape.

Named after a work by National Poet of Scotland Edwin Morgan, Sonnets aims to challenge stereotypical conceptions of what constitutes multiculturalism by rejecting the approach of making images concerned exclusively with race.

Unfortunately a reductive visual language exists today which tends to neglect the fact that European life has been culturally diverse for millennia, and that this mixing of Celtic, Latin, Slavic and Germanic cultures, amongst others, has led to a rich history of image and myth making.

My work explores this theme by presenting an ambiguous, solitary figure within grandiose landscapes. These locations were chosen because they were vital to the construction of modern Scottish identity.

While Sonnets uses a visual language drawn from 19th century German romantic painting, the viewer, no matter their background or heritage, concentrates on the figure’s relation to the landscape, often placing themselves in his position, contemplating the vista, transcending traditional issues of multiculturalism, and instead considering the role of the person within the environment.”

My entry should not be read as a complete rejection of traditional depictions of multiculturalism, more as my own interpretation.  As the photographer Wynn Bulloch said “…it is not that I am uninterested in telling visual stories about people and their everyday lives. I just like to leave this kind of work to others.”

Shortlisted for the Accademia Apulia Award

The Quirang, Skye – Digital print (2010)

I don’t enter many photographic awards or competitions as I tend not to hold much interest in the format, don’t want to submit my best landscape/B&W shot to magazines, or have no interest in my work being judged by people who I don’t think have the relevant experience.

While I’m not opposed to having people share their opinions on my work – indeed I actively encourage it, there are far too many of these ‘events’, many of which seem to be cynical money making ventures set up to exploit naive photographers.

Once every so often however I will come across a competition which genuinely captures my attention, primarily by posing an interesting question or challenge. This happened earlier this year with the Renaissance Art Prize which asked the photographer to respond to a selection of quotations from Sontag and Barthes, about the nature of photography. I knew that even if I wasn’t short-listed it would cause me to think in a more considered way about my own practice, and that I could only benefit personally whatever the outcome from the judges.

I have just been short-listed in a similarly thought provoking competition, the Accademia Apulia Art Award 2010, hosted by Accademia Apulia – a London based organisation which encourages the promotion of cross cultural exchanges. The theme of this year’s competition is ‘Genius Loci‘ (the spirit of place), and how this is represented through images of cultural diversity.

For the last several years my own explorations into identity with the ‘Sonnets’ series of images have been concerned with how best to depict a spirit of place, how we as Scots represent ourselves as a people, or imagine ourselves to be represented.  This process looked at a long visual and written heritage, and questioned some of our own myth making practices, especially in regards to the history of Scotland itself. I have however covered these issues in previous entries, and want to instead turn my attention to the issue of ‘cultural diversity’ in my work.

When I made the decision to embark on the Sonnets project I actively considered the role of the figure in the landscape. I experimented with different models, including my wife (amongst others) who were all happy to stand in for Henning, however I eventually decided that I wanted to maintain a certain element of repetition and continuity with the series, so instead returned to my original choice.

Internally I debated that for a contemporary photographic series I should use a variety of different people from all walks of life, of all colours and creeds, so that I could create an honest and representative depiction and celebration of the people who make up this country.

I quickly changed my mind however, as this approach has been done ad-nauseum. Instead, I opted for a more subtle usage of imagery,  that didn’t call to mind the work of a National Geographic photographer, or a sub-standard United Colours of Benetton advert, because cultural diversity is not exclusively about race, and Europeans are equally culturally diverse.

The issues of culture and identity are complicated at the best of times, however I consciously decided  not to put the onus on race, and tried my best to make the identity and many other characteristics of the figure ambiguous, leaving the viewer to concentrate on the location, or trying to interpret why he was there –  to try and understand the image as a ‘fragment of a larger narrative’ as the author W.G Sebald would put it. I wanted the viewer – whatever their background, to place themselves in the image, using the figure as a surrogate. To an extent this has been successful, and I’ve received many correspondences in which people construct their own stories of what the figure is running from, or to – or what he is contemplating as he stands alone.

View of Loch Lomond - John Knox (1778-1845)

View of Loch Lomond – John Knox (1778-1845)

The imagery of the Sonnets series of course calls to mind the work of 18th and 19th century romantic European painting (and its modern day derivatives) from works such as ‘View of Loch Lomond’ by John Knox (pictured above) who painted scenes of a ‘mysterious’ and ‘sublime’ Scottish countryside populated with sparse figures, intended for a privileged audience. These images, much like those of Caspar David Friedrich, almost exclusively portray white, Northern European males,  and are as interesting in their absences as to what does appear in the final image. In this respect I wanted to parody contemporary artworks as much as draw attention to this imbalance, however it’s a subtle point, and regardless of how the image is viewed, there are many possible interpretations on how to view the series.

I’m currently short-listed for the Accademia Apulia 2010 Art Award along with 25 other photographers for ‘Outstanding work’ with the 3 finalists being announced at the start of December.

You can learn more about the award and see the names of the other photographers here

The Renaissance Art Prize

Being presented with the Residency Award by Alessandra Masolini

On the 9th of July I was invited to the Italian Cultural Institute in London as a finalist for the Renaissance Art Prize. While I didn’t win the photography award (I came in second place), I did win the coveted Residency Atelier D’Artista, organized yearly by cultural association Toscana In, giving me a 10 day residency in Tuscany of May 2010. I’m very honored to recoeve the award, as the other short-listed artists produced some excellent entries this year. Here is a bit more about the Renaissance Art Prize:

Created by Sharpcut Visual Arts Project and held annually at the Italian Cultural Institute in London, the Renaissance Arts Prize is a photography and video art award open to artists of all nationalities based in Italy and the United Kingdom, and under 35 years of age.

The first two years of the Renaissance Arts Prize were dedicated to the Italian Renaissance and to the Futurist movement respectively. The last edition, Back to the Futurism: Art is a cerebral secretion capable of exact calibration?, was supported by Tate Modern, and was reviewed by Artforum, Artinfo, ArtKey, Exibart, Evening Standard and many other Italian and international publications and websites.

The Renaissance Arts Prize 2010 draws inspiration from a chapter of Susan Sontag’s famous essay On Photography and from the life of Italian artist Mario Giacomelli, a photographer whose most famous series were a visual response to the work of poets such as Giacomo Leopardi, Eugenio Montale, Edgar Lee Masters, and Emily Dickinson. Participants were invited to submit work in response to the theme of ‘The Heroism of Vision’ and to selected quotes by John Szarkowski, Susan Sontag and Roland Barthes.

Read more and see the work of the other artists at

Winner of Arts Trust for Scotland Award 2010

I am delighted to receive one of the 2010 Arts Trust for Scotland Awards to help me complete my current photographic series ‘Sonnets’.

This award will allow me to purchase new equipment, and produce images which I hope will live up to the high standards of previous winners.

2010 Winner of The Dewar Award

I’m happy to announce that I’m one of the 2010 recipients of the Dewar Award. This award will allow me to complete my 1500 mile journey around Scotland, and complete my ‘Sonnets’ project. The journey begins this summer, and I’m very grateful for the opportunity given to me by the trustees!

About the Dewar Awards:

The Dewar Awards is given to artists under 30 who display “outstanding ability and potential” but do not have the means to finance their further development. Founded by the Scottish Executive in 2002 in memory of First Minister Donald Dewar, the award is intended to launch the careers of the next generation of Scottish talent.

You can read more about my win on the Dewar Award page here

Shortlisted for EU Photography Award

Hello all, I’ve just been shortlisted for an EU ‘Imagine’ Photography Award. It is one of these public vote type things, and if you have a minute to spare I’d appreciate your help!

You can register here and vote for the shot here

Once registered it sends you an email and the whole thing takes 30 seconds.
There are many excellent shots I’m up against so if you do vote, thanks!