Emerging Voices: Photo London
X Hahnemühle Student Award

Emerging Voices: Photo London<br>X Hahnemühle Student Award

What is the importance of photography today? The medium provides a lens to explore critical topics that wrestle with matters both small and large. How do we frame what it means to grow old? What does it mean to belong to another body? How do we speak of grief belonging to a time long past? These are questions that are tackled by the shortlist of the Photo London x Hahnemühle Student Award, a prize that brings together the most poignant and skillful work of new talent in the UK. Now in its second year, the award offers an exciting opportunity for emerging artists, providing them with international exposure and early-career support. Across 46 UK-based universities, 100 students were nominated, and then narrowed down to five artists by a panel that included jurors from The Guardian, 1000 Words and the Victoria and Albert Museum. From 16 – 19 May, the shortlist’s work will be on display at a presentation at Photo London, before the winner is announced on 18 May. In this round-up, we spotlight the final five projects.

Ben Hubert | Arts University Bournemouth | Plinthos

Hubert is influenced by Ancient Greek and Renaissance art. Recurring themes of his work include relationships between masculine representation and identity; and photography’s relationship with the male form. Central to the artist’s practice is a combination of photographic and sculptural works involving cement, ballast, wire and clay. By moving between these mediums, Hubert alludes to both the podium and classical male figure: the construction of an object and its display. We see objects’ facades obstructed and altered, capturing at once both the fragility and strength of artefacts and the personalities behind them.

Emi O’Connell | UAL London College of Communication | Inside your Island

O’Connell combines self-portraiture, imagery, and text to depict her grandmother’s account of escaping a mother and baby home in Ireland in 1964. These homes, funded by the government and operated by religious orders, forced unwed mothers into secrecy while neglecting their care. The project delves into the shame stemming from the separation and the oppressive conditions endured by these women. Black and white images reenact escape journeys whilst pictures in colour allow viewers to revisit specific landscapes and memories. These elements bridge the past and present, exploring notions of freedom.

Ada Marino | University of Wales Trinity Saint David | New Moons

In her most recent series New Moons, the Italian visual artist works at the intersection between photography and installation. Her practice focuses on past events of her subjects, and their memories and traumas that re-emerge and manifest as a form of cynical surrealism. The project seeks to highlight feminine resilience, addressing issues such as the invasion of women’s bodies, as seen by recent laws restricting abortion. Marino’s unsettling images aim to explore the interplay between repulsion and attraction, challenging conventional ideas about beauty, gender norms, knowledge and social identity.

An Liu | UAL London College of Communication | Weaving the World

Weaving the World skilfully merges portraiture, documentary, and staged photography with a soft, pastel visual style. The project starts with a true story: An Liu’s 87-year-old grandmother began collecting toy gun bullets in 2019, remnants of children’s play scattered across the neighborhood. This continued for three years as a way to combat her loneliness and isolation. Whilst visiting her elderly relatives, Liu observed the offsets of aging – new obstacles encountered through physical decline. In the resulting series, she portrays the poignant daily rhythms of her seniors, merging dream, play, memory and reality altogether.

Africa Barrero-Alexander | The University of the West of England | This Body Was Carved From Stone

This Body Was Carved From Stone explores Barrero-Alexander’s personal experience as a transgender man. The artist explains, “This internal journey I’ve been on since childhood was externalised once I began my social and medical transition, choosing to show the outside world the person I have always known myself to be.” In The Colossus II, a figure stretches out, facing an expanse of rock. In One Week After, a subject gazes out the window, displaying his chest after top surgery. Barrero-Alexander continues, “for me, photography is more than a mechanical act of pressing a shutter: it can also be a self-reflective act of healing.”

Photo London x Hahnemühle Student Award | Bottom of the Stamp Stairs: 16 – 19 May

photolondon.org | hahnemuehle.com

Artworks for the Photo London Hahnemühle Student Award will be printed on archival papers from the Hahnemühle Digital Fine Art Collection in collaboration with Hahnemühle certified studio gold partner, Spectrum Photographic. Find out more about Hahnemühle Archival Digital FineArt papers.

Ben Hubert chose Hahnemühle Digital FineArt Natural Line Hemp 290gsm. “The primary reason for this choice is the textured surface and matte finish – the images contain relatively tactile subjects and it’s important to me that the paper reflects this in its feel and aesthetic. I also wanted to work with a heavier paper for the same reason and so the prints to some degree feel as though they are objects, like artefacts.”

Emi O’Connell chose Hahnemühle Digital FineArt Collection Photo Rag® 308gsm. “I wanted to choose something with texture and a vintage feel to suit the themes of my work. Photo Rag feels ideal for black and white printing with its deep blacks, contrasting shadows and how it handles fine details so well. I feel that Photo Rag has a distinctive look that complements black and white images so beautifully.

Ada Marino chose Hahnemühle Digital FineArt Collection Photo Rag® Matt Baryta 308gsm. “I noticed a difference in the structure and I felt that a slightly lightness could have given the perfect consistency without losing the vibrancy and clarity characteristics. Mine is a work that was born as a response to a previous project and which brings an aura of positivity and lightness. Therefore drawing this peculiarity also from a less hard paper means its perfectly compatible with the concept I wanted to express.”

An Liu chose the Hahnemühle Digital FineArt Collection Photo Rag® Matt Baryta 308gsm “It offers vibrant colours and rich details. Most of my work is shot on colour film, and this paper can showcase the warm and dreamy light in my work while preserving the abundance of details captured by the film. Additionally, the theme of my work revolves around stories of age and time. I hope the audience can feel the passage of time when viewing my work, so the matte texture prevents any glare from any direction.”

Africa Barrero-Alexander chose Hahnemühle Digital FineArt Collection Natural Line Sugar Cane 300gsm. “I chose this paper type because the texture adds depth to the images, and has a tactile quality that I really like. Also, the warmer tone of this paper works well with the black and white imagery I’ll be printing onto it. Finally, I think it’s important to use materials from renewable sources wherever possible.”


Ben Hubert @benhubert_ | Arts University Bournemouth @aub_baphoto

Emi O’Connell @emioconnell | London College of Communication @lcclondon

Ada Marino @adamarino_dipalma | University of Wales Trinity Saint David

An Liu @annbudong | London College of Communication @lcclondon

Africa Barrero-Alexander @jpg.aba | The University of West England @uwebristol

Image Credits:

1. Ben Hubert, Untitled, from Plinthos, 2024

2. Ben Hubert, Untitled, from Plinthos, 2024

3. Emi O’Connell, Inside your Island, from and then I ran, 2023

4. Ada Marino, New Moons, 2022-23

5. An Liu, Isolated island from Weaving the world, 2023

6. Africa Barrero-Alexander, The Colossus II from This Body Was Carved From Stone, 2023