Competition Finalists

UCA Rochester London Degree Show

The BA (Hons) Contemporary and MA Photography students at UCA Rochester welcomed first-place winner Andrew Bruce to exhibit alongside their 2016 graduate show. The exhibition took place at Free Range, located at the Old Truman Brewery in London, and ran during Free Range’s Photography Week Two, from June 30th through July 4th.

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First Place:

Andrew Bruce – Selected Works (Cold Air Rising)

“For the past five years my work has comprised of an ongoing visual exploration of nature; both the animal and the landscape. The photographs I have made over this time forms an ongoing project that engages not only with the politics of looking at animals and the rich history of nature depicted in art, but also crucially serves to engage with the animal itself through processes such as using infrared triggers (setting off the camera as a bird flies past, as an attempt to create a level of collaboration in the picture-making process) or even the simple act of touching and holding an animal. As animals are increasingly detached from our everyday lives and reduced to mere spectacle or commodity, I search for some kind of touch or meeting with the animals that I photograph. By reinterpreting the long tradition of humans looking to animals to find meaning in the world, I create melancholy images where animals are captured in seemingly quiet or silent moments, scenes that could be described as transcendental; the animal becomes mystical.”

The scenes are uncanny, otherworldly, but also very real; the animals or landscapes before us are not uncommon.

“A reoccurring motif in my work is the suspended animal; the animal held in mid-air and time. These frozen moments are captured using a range of methods, from photographing a bird mid-flight, or by employing a sensor that triggers the camera when a beam of invisible infrared light is broken by the movement of the animal or by sleight-of-hand; the artist working as illusionist; carefully placing strings and light to pose a lifeless animal body. The motif of the animal suspended in air is pertinent; it is unfixed; it is frozen within a void.”

By using such a range of methods to ‘capture’ the animals’ images then the difficulty of looking at animals (and too the ultimate inauthenticity of animal imagery) is underscored, hinting at the epistemological distance between animals and humans and impossibility of ever really knowing animals.

The use of a 10×8” large-format camera and life-size handprints provides a level of detail that allows the viewer to experience the subject in a strikingly intimate way.

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Second Place:

Caroline Tulley – Out of sight, out of mind

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‘Tulley works with architectural photography and often draws on digital retouching skills. Her current series investigates the storage phenomenon that arrived in the UK in the 1980s and has since flourished during changes to the economic climate. It documents some of the 14,000 storage units available to hire within a three mile radius of her family home.’

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Third Place:

Fleur Alston – The Quickening

`Only in death do most animals pause long enough for our analytical minds to torture some truths out of them` – Stephen Asma, Stuffed Animals and Pickled Heads Taxidermy and photography both allow energy and stillness to coexist. In the 21st century there is a changing relationship with animals. No longer do we hunt an animal, stuff it and place it on show. The production process of collection, display and taxonomy has largely become defunct due to evolving environmental attitudes and perceptions. Our wider perspective of natural history, offered to us by film, photography and travel, questions and re-orientates a new way of considering animals outside the confines of the old systems of order. `The Quickening` is pieced together from specimens and taxidermy photographed from various Natural History museums across the country, re-activating these objects and giving them a new purpose. `The Quickening` renegotiates the ideologies of the Natural History Museum and the cataloguing of the natural world, exploring the current understanding of nature compared with the British exploration and collecting of the nineteenth century. By no longer looking at taxidermy or specimens through the eyes of “Natural History”, this project realises that, in an increasingly endangered natural environment, the further we move away from nature, the closer we want to be.’

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