2022 Award announcements
Acclaimed artist Rosemary Laing and Director of Agency and Senior Curator, Museums and Collections at University of Melbourne, Hannah Presley joined MGA Director Anouska Phizacklea to select the winner and three Colour Factory Honourable Mentions from a shortlist of 54 exceptional works that form the 2022 edition of the Bowness Photography Prize. Melbourne artist Amos Gebhardt has been awarded $30,000 for their winning work ‘Wallaby’ (2022) and the work will be acquired into MGA’s nationally significant collection of Australian photographs.
Gebhardt’s photographic work has been selected four times in the last five years as a finalist for the Bowness Photography Prize. Gebhardt’s photographic practice is characterised through a bold vision, conceptual rigour and an innovative approach to the medium. Recent acclaimed series include There are no others (2016), which features gender diverse people floating in celestial space; Evanescence (2018), which depicts human collectives suspended in contested landscapes; Small acts of resistance (2021), which celebrates queer familial entanglement; and most recently ‘Wallaby’, where Gebhardt has integrated x-ray and satellite imaging to explore themes of trauma and sentience.Gebhardt’s sustained and continued practice of producing work that is visually rich is epitomised by a courageous commitment to agitate dominant narratives around marginality, representation, queerness and more than human ecologies.
Colour Factory Honourable Mentions were awarded to Petrina Hicks for her arresting and provocative exploration of motherhood in ‘Hercules’ (2021); Danie Mellor for the haunting and moving large-scale work that incorporates archival and recent infra-red imagery to addresses the rich cultural traditions connected with Country and the history of photographic images that helped to shape the development of Australian colonial and settler identity in ‘The far country’ (2022); and Sonia Payes for her work ‘Exoplanet 1’ (2022) which is an otherworldly evocation of volcanic forces that explode and rip into the earth’s core.
The Wai Tang Commissioning Award has been granted to artist Janelle Low to present an exhibition of work at MGA in 2023. Low states that her work in the Bowness Photography Prize ‘belongs to an ongoing series exploring familial ties, cultural loss and the nature of memory. Reworking archival family photographs, the processes used oscillate between taking control and letting go of control to evoke a sense of intimacy while simultaneously embodying distance as well. Side by side the works create a ‘family album’ of sorts, and reflect upon the space between my cultural heritage, Western upbringing and deeply rooted feelings of filial piety.’
The 2022 Smith & Singer People’s Choice Award winning work, ‘Read my lips’ (2022) by Andrea Francolini challenges the conventions of portrait photography while drawing attention to the mechanics of photographic production. The work claimed 14% of the vote making it a clear favourite. Thames & Hudson generously donated book prize packs to three lucky voters.