Gold, Silver and Best in Show for USW at national photography awards

Images by BA (Hons) Photography students at the University of South Wales have been recognised at the highest level by the AOP (Association of Photographers) Student Awards.

The AOP is one of the most prestigious professional photographers’ associations in the world, dedicated to promoting, protecting and educating photographers of all levels – from those starting out, to experienced professionals, and everyone in between. The annual Student Awards recognise and highlight emerging photographic talent at colleges and universities across the UK.

On Friday (24 June), it was announced that final year Photography student, Paris Tankard, had won Best in Show as well as the Gold Award in the People category, for their striking self-portrait (pictured above).

Paris said: “This image explores the relationship between my black identity and my identity as a queer person, showing how both may be at odds with each other, but they have come together to create who I am.”

Charlie Clift, judge for the People category, added: “It’s not often that I see an image so truly arresting. But the Gold Award winner does just that. It’s powerful, playful and stylish – all at the same time. The way the photographer has shown just enough detail to draw you in, those eyes looking straight out at you, determined. I want to know more about this person, I want to meet this person. What more could you want in a portrait? Huge congratulations to the brilliant photographer who made this piece. I can’t wait to see more of their work.”

USW was the only institution to win more than one award this year – with Karo Birger, BA (Hons) Photography student, picking up the Silver Award in the Things category, for her collection of images of shellfish, entitled Denouement.

Karo said: “Through colourful and vibrant images, this work attempts to highlight the beauty of these animals set against the stark reality of human disregard and greed.

"By creating a visual connection to these precious beings, I aim for the audience to immerse themselves into an imaginative and playful world, where real value can be seen.”

Sarah Thomson, judge for the Things category, added: “I found these pictures instantly appealing. I love their spectacular vibrancy and unflinching joy in the colour and form of some of our most recognisable marine life. And in each shot the clever intimation of the watery, depths from where they emerge.

"Seeing how beautiful these creatures are also reminds me that they and their habitats should be protected at all costs.”

Grace Leggett, a second-year BA (Hons) Photography student, was also a finalist in the Places category, for her project focusing on Llandaff North Rugby, Sports and Social Club.

Peter Bobby, Course Leader for BA (Hons) Photography at USW, said: “To get three finalists – one in each category – is fantastic, but for two of these students to then go onto win three of seven awards is unprecedented, and we couldn’t be prouder.

“One of the key aims of the BA Photography course is to support students in the development of a unique visual voice that responds to the key debates in society today. This is certainly the case here, especially in the work of the Gold and Silver award winners Paris Tankard and Karo Birger, so it is fantastic to see these important works being recognised and further made visible by the AOP. Huge congratulations to all three finalists, but particular praise must go to Paris for their Best in Show award, for what is an undeniably significant and impactful image.”

Professor Barry Atkins, Dean of the Faculty of Business and Creative Industries, said: “This is a fantastic outcome for our Photography courses and students. These are superb images that are fully deserving of such prestigious recognition, from a course that builds on its long heritage of excellence to demonstrate ongoing currency and significance to the present.”