The Jill Todd Photographic Award
Stills Centre for Photography
23 Cockburn Street, Edinburgh
Exhibition on display until January 22
Open daily: 11am – 6pm
This year’s winners of the Jill Todd Photographic Award are currently on display at one of Edinburgh’s best known central photography centres, the Stills Gallery! The Jill Todd Award, set up by Todd’s family in her memory after her own photography career was cut tragically short by cancer, aims to give three aspiring Scottish photography graduates early career exposure and exhibition recognition. These winners will have their work exhibited in Stills alongside six highly commended entrants until January 22.
The winners Mads Holm, Linda Conroy and Emma Levy are all rightly deserving of their win. Each of the young photographers has a distinct and exhibition-friendly style, with real series potential and exciting statements of intent. Holm, the 1st place winner, is showcasing his About Common Ground series and it is clear to see how the panel came to their decision. Of the images on display from this series, Downtown was my personal favourite, with strong vertical lines with a feel of early 20th century documentary photography about it.
In 2nd place, Linda Conroy admits her increasing lethargy and desire to absorb inspirational material in her statement of intent. The models of many of Conroy’s display pieces are simple objects easily found, but photographed from an interesting and alternate perspective. It demonstrates Conroy’s real eye for photographic detail. Of her display images, Out & Exercise some more is compelling and was used for much of the exhibitions promotional material. It conjures feelings of drifting and comfort, but uses cold colours which makes for a really interesting image.
Emma Levy, the 3rd place winner, displays highlights from her National Park series, an exploration of the landscape and peoples of Kosovo’s Sharr National Park, a contested piece of land whose people are caught in a unique geopolitical situation. Levy’s images have both a real humanity to them and at the same time a disconnect, especially clear in portrait of a smoking man. Pictures of people in modern and old clothing styles contrast with timeless landscape shots to create an intriguing and genuinely engaging photo-essay.
The contest’s six highly commended artists are as equally skilled and certainly on par with the three overall winners. Of particular note is Mat Hay’s iconic and striking image of the War Memorial in Greenock. Captured against a beautifully stained sky, of all of the images in the exhibition this was a particular standout and favourite.
The Jill Todd Photographic Award set out to give photographic artist at the beginning of their careers some much needed exposure and it has met this aim and then some. I will personally be keeping up with many of the brilliant new photographers I have discovered through this exhibition. I would highly recommend coming down to Stills before January 22 and engaging with the next generation of Scottish photography.