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Celebrating the 6 winners of The Photographers’ Gallery’s New Talent awards

JACK ARTS partners with The Photographers’ Gallery to give 6 emerging artists a platform on the streets – for their winning photographic projects.

2023 marks the third edition of The Photographers’ Gallery New Talent (TNT) programme, where six photographers are awarded with an online exhibition platform for their project, a mentor each and a grant to support their artistic pursuits. JACK ARTS have partnered with TPG to provide further support and exposure for these artists by displaying work from their projects on a series of billboards across London.

This year’s winners are Igor Chekachkov, Weiyi (Margaret) Liang, Cynthia MaiWa Sitei, Cian Oba-Smith, Robbie Spotswood and Ruudu Ulas. Following an open call, they were chosen by artist Hoda Afshar and Karen McQuaid, senior curator of The Photographers’ Gallery.

What unites their work is subject conviction; sharing a strong visual language, coherent concepts and powerful themes. The notion of identity and experience – whether it be the individual’s own, reflecting on the identities of others, or a shared identity – is showcased brilliantly throughout the projects.


Words by Bella Bloss

Igor Chekachkov

Ukrainian photojournalist Igor Chekachkov’s project is a book of Polaroid photographs taken during the 2022 Russian invasion. Raw and touching, 100 days of war reflects on personal identity, unity, community, memories, home and the conditions of conflict. In one entry, Chekachkov writes “The diary became more about the life-altering impact of war, how humans adapt and face new realities.” His imagery combines documentary realism along with surreal images of destruction, suffering and loss.

Weiyi (Margaret) Liang

Primarily focusing on the representation of masculinity and how it is manifested in female subjects, Weiyi (Margaret) Liang’s Mountain of A captures the subversion of gender of a female bodybuilder. A feminine, soft colour palette is distinct in these self-portraits that challenge the notions, conventions and boundaries between genders. The contrast of typical expressions of gender and the fluidity of both is presented and combined in performed images of tenderness and solidity.

Cynthia MaiWa Sitei

Exploring Kenya’s colonial legacies from a contemporary perspective, Cynthia MaiWa Sitei’s spear of a nation, provokes discussion around power and representation. Sitei combines archival images by British social anthropologist Edward Evan Evans-Pritchard with her own photographs. Through the exploration of this topic, Sitei investigates her bloodline with which she felt she had little connection. Soft, black and white and sepia images encapsulate rural space, community and an understanding of a shared identity.

Robbie Spotswood

Robbie Spotswood states, “The strongest story I had was my own.” His series, titled I Just Want to Stay Home, takes the form of a documentary photo-realist visual diary capturing identity, family, home and culture. Spotswood’s photographs are also a strong study of light, these crisp black-and-white images create contrasts between shadows and highlight textures and patterns. Spotswood skillfully captures his own personal journey with an honesty that is deeply emotional and simultaneously comforting in the stillness of each image.

Cian Oba-Smith

Among Flowers, Tears and Rain, by Cian Oba-Smith explores grief, loss and community, focusing on misrepresented and overlooked communities, recording the effects of knife violence in London. The majority of the images depict the aftermath of the loss of someone due to knife crime; flowers around lamp posts and along fences in the city. Oba-Smith also captures portraits of those directly impacted such as family and friends of the victims, along with poignant statements displayed alongside the images.

Ruudu Ulas

In a series of still-life images of objects and architecture taken out of their context, Ruudu Ulas’ Difficult Objects creates surreal, almost uncomfortable photographs. Difficult Objects explores how architecture and objects in our everyday impact and influence the way we live. Her project combines video, photography and sculpture, creating a juxtaposition of chaos and order.

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