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Mullins Conceptual Photography Prize: Polyptychs rule!

The Australian Photographic Society has announced the winners of the 2021 Mullins Conceptual Photography Prize (MCPP), with all three winning images being polyptychs – ‘an image which is divided into sections or panels.’  Canberra photographer, Ian Skinner, won the $10,000 MCPP top prize for his quadtych, Ashcapes.

Ashscapes by Ian Skinner. Source: MCPP.

‘The catastrophic fires in Southeastern Australia in 2019-2020 were shortly followed by torrential rain,’ Skinner’s concept statement reads. ‘The rivers and creeks disgorged vast quantities of debris from the conflagration into the ocean so that the waves turned grey with ash, and convulsed with charred remnants. Where the gentler waves reached their zenith on the beaches, small flecks of carbonised vegetation rested in ephemeral patterns suggesting the hills, ridges and valleys of their living selves.’

Skinner was a finalist in last year’s MCPP, and is the second Canberran to win the photo prize after Judy Parker from 2020, who won with a triptych!

Hobart photographer, Ian Terry, received the Emergent Designs Award for his diptych, Night on the Tier.

Night on the Tier by Ian Terry. Source: MCPP.

‘This image is part of an ongoing project responding to the journeys of George Augustus Robinson who, assisted by Palawa (indigenous Tasmanian) guides, walked through Van Diemen’s Land in the 1830’s to persuade Palawa still on country to give up their resistance to the European invasion of their island,’ Terry’s concept statement reads. ‘In following Robinson with his journal in hand I am seeking to connect the historical with the contemporary, to make sense of my existence in this island of dreams which was stolen violently from its first people. This fractured landscape is where Robinson spent his first night on one conciliation expedition.’

Lastly, Brisbane photographer Anne Pappalardo received the Momento Pro Award for her triptych, A New Place To Stay.

A New Place To Stay by Anne Pappalardo. Source: MCPP.

‘For 50 years, mum and dad had Christmas holidays at the Tallebudgera Caravan Park on the Gold Coast, Queensland,’ Pappalarado’s concept statement reads. ‘This place was where our most cherished family memories were made. Age meant they reluctantly but bravely sold their vintage caravan and booked a spectacular high-rise beachfront apartment nearby at Burleigh, with high hopes for this journey toward a new tradition. It rained torrentially and constantly for their two-week stay, and I took these images to reflect the gloom of our spirits and my parents’ remorse at the disappointing beginning to this “fabulous” new holiday ritual.’

The MPCC finalist images are showing in an exhibition at Muswellbrook Regional Arts Centre in the Upper Hunter Region of NSW until August 20. A virtual exhibition can be accessed here.

Photo contest criteria

Organising group: Australian Photographic Society and its Contemporary Group
Status/Objective: Promote APS and contemporary photography, acquisition of winning work, celebrate Barbara and Doug Mullins contribution to APS.
Entry fee: $40 for APS members, $70 for non-members. Cheaper for more entries.
Prizes: $10,000 cash prize, plus vouchers for selected finalists.
Sponsors: Momento Pro, Emergent Designs, Muswellbrook Regional Arts Centre, Australian Photography, Ilford, MyPhotoClub, Bengalla.
Judges: Photographers Jacqui Dean, Dr Judith Nangala Crispin, Julie Williams
Number of entrants/submissions: Undisclosed
Categories: Strictly ‘conceptual photography that illustrates an idea. Conceptual photography means that you have a very specific idea you want to share with your audience’.
Exposure: Promoted online by APS, finalist images showing in a printed exhibition.
Affiliations: APS is a respected not-for-profit organisation that runs events primarily geared towards the traditional camera club movement.
Transparency: Extremely transparent.
Communication: Contact details are easily accessible.
Estimated Gross Revenue: Entries not disclosed.
Copyright standards: ‘Intellectual property rights in entries remain with the entrant as the copyright owner’.
Overall rating: The entry fee is on the high end of the scale, and the cost for non-members will limit the numbers of entries. However, the grand prize is impressive for a new contest and will encourage APS members to get conceptual. A top contest with no areas of concern.

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