Extraordinary Encounters:
Photographs to Discover

Mystical forests. Chance encounters. Uncanny experiences. In an era defined by unprecedented shifts and transformations, photography emerges as a poignant medium for capturing the essence of our rapidly changing world. Through the lens of 10 global photographers from our annual Aesthetica Art Prize, we present ten works that contemplate and illuminate the intricacies of human existence. Each photographer offers a unique perspective, weaving narratives that reflect on our environment, our desires and our relationships. From serene landscapes to intimate portraits, these images invite reflection, and a deeper understanding of the world we inhabit. Join us as we explore our artists’ extraordinary visions.

Ingrid Weyland

In Topographies of Fragility, Ingrid Weyland manipulates, alters and enacts “violent gestures” on the land, contorting images until the collaged compositions become something altogether different. 

Johan Lund

Lund is a photographer from Sweden. “We all have our ways to clear our mind. Some meditate, others go fishing – I create photographs. Into the Mist captures a moment of peace and tranquillity.”

Michelle Watt

Michelle Watt specialises in staging conceptual narratives with a whimsical flair. Her work engenders stories about the female minority experience, informed by her own Chinese American background. 

Ellie Davies

In ethereal photographs littered with stars, the artist’s magical landscapes consider the fragility of our relationship with the natural world, from forests to the chalk streams of Dorset and Hampshire.

Reuben Wu

Reuben Wu is a photographer, filmmaker and music producer driven by the urge to explore new places as if they were unknown territories. In a search for serendipity, Wu offers up extraterrestial worlds.

Lottie Davies

Davies collects stories remembered from couples in relationships, as to how each met the other. She recreates these moments, asking subjects to write down their memories without consulting each other.

Ellen Jantzen

Jantzen is interested in states of reality, attempting to make visual the ephemeral nature of sacred, spiritual realms by transplanting replica trees into the natural world. One is artificial, the other a spirit.

Margeaux Walter

Don’t Be a Square explores topics of conservation, climate change, consumption and waste. Here, we see site-specific interventions in the landscape – such as figures, curtains and even a juice bar.

Gjert Rognli

Rognli references his Sámi cultural heritage and belonging to Arctic Northern Norway. He takes nature and natural forces into his works with references to the surreal and mythological environments. 

Annika White & Carl Knight

Moments Before Checkout chronicles White and Knight’s road trips to the lesser touched corners of North America. These trips began from a need to grasp a sense of the unknown, creating new experiences.

The Aesthetica Art Prize 2024 Exhibition at York Art Gallery runs from 16 February – 21 April. Plus, meet over 250 longlisted international artists in our new online gallery.

Want to get involved? The next edition of the Prize is open for entries. Submit your work by 31 August. Win £10,000, exhibition and publication. Find out more here.

Image Credit: Reuben Wu, from Field of Infinity (2019). Image courtesy of the artist.