This past week I once again had the delightful task of judging the works of Trinity Bay High School students in their annual Photographic Portrait Prize … and presenting the awards for the eighth year in a row.
Yearly, I’ve been amazed by the quality of photographic portraiture produced by the students … some barely in their teens. Looking back on my pictorial skills when their age, I would have been way down the bottom of class.
Having said that, this year when faced with over sixty quality portraits lining the Visual Arts walls, I was even more stunned. The collective students had really excelled and produced a ‘best ever’ portraiture exhibition.
Selecting the three winners was a daunting and lengthy task. In the end the overall winner boiled down to an almost impossible choice between two great portraits … neither of which would look out of place published in National Geographic magazine. Ultimately the self portrait ‘Window of Soul’ (top) by David-Paul Onakoy got the winning nod over ‘It Takes a Village to Raise a Child’ (second from top) made by his mate David Mashengo … but only just !! The Congolese student pair both produced wonderfully constructed portraits that told a story. David-Paul took home the winners prize of a DSLR camera courtesy of sponsors Garricks Camera House.
Interestingly and in contrast to the previous couple of years … this years three winners all showed strong eye contact in their portraits, with the beautifully executed and literally eye-catching work by Sienna Stuart-Bennet of her friend Shakira, ‘Vision’, making up the top prized trio.
I could have easily awarded a dozen or so ‘Honourable Mentions’ but had to limit the decision to just three, coincidently all black and white portraits. The works of … Jade Gubb (titled ‘Dystopian Gremlin’ – great attitude and angle of view) … Noecocha Cowley (‘Mary’ – striking use of shadow) … and Mattie-Leigh Hanson (‘Seashore’ – beautifully constructed and composed), prevailed. Virgil Gill won the top prize amongst the school staff section for the work ‘Sunshine’ … whilst ‘Sweet 16’ by student Shirley Vue (bottom image) was chosen by popular vote as ‘Peoples Choice’.
Much praise must go to the dedicated Visual Arts teaching staff at the school who are fostering and moulding this amazing young photographic talent.
See you all next year for number nine …
Images © The Student Artists … from top … David-Paul Onakoy, David Mashengo, Sienna Stuart-Bennet, Jade Gubb, Noecocha Cowley & Mattie-Leigh Hanson, Shirley Vue