The first Rebecca Vassie Memorial Award comprised a bursary of £1,200, plus printing, exhibition and mentoring, for an emerging photographer to complete a narrative photography project with a strong social or political context. The award was granted to James Arthur Allen in November 2016 for his project documenting the lives and traditions of the ethnic Circassian population in Israel.
The judges – who included Karen McQuaid, senior curator at the Photographers’ Gallery and Matthew Tucker, UK Picture Editor at BuzzFeed – were impressed by James’s detailed knowledge of the complex history of the Circassians, who were expelled from their country in the nineteenth century after the Russian-Circassian War, and the contacts he’d developed in the region.
Two further applications were highly commended: David Shaw for his proposal exploring racial divides in Oldham, and Tracey Paddison for her project following a non-binary person through gender reassignment. In addition, shortlisted applicant Joseph Fox received a commission from BuzzFeed as a result of his submission.
Update – April 2017. James has recently returned from Israel and is in the final stages of editing the resulting collection. He has been mentored by Bette Lynch, Director of Photography, news, Europe, Middle East and Africa at Getty Images, who was also part of the judging process. The work will be printed at Metro Imaging, print partner to the award, and will be exhibited for the first time in summer 2017. See a preview of the collection here.
Applications for our second award will open mid-June 2017.