Each of the three photographers on display in this exhibition at Open Eye Gallery was selected from a pool of applicants for the first ever Jerwood/Photoworks Awards and given £5,000 to create the new work on display. The result is a stark, striking exhibition across three rooms in the gallery, each with a distinct feel and individual preoccupations.
Joanna Piotrowska’s work, displayed on freestanding boards, has a passively confrontational feel; Piotrowska enlisted the young women in her photographs to recreate poses from self-defence manuals. Captured in stillness, and without the energy of a real attack, these gestures feel strangely abstract and, at times, tender. In the following room, Tereza Zelenkova has created an insight into her native Czech Republic, exploring themes of history, local legend and folklore through photographs that are both comic (a rock in the shape of a haggard face) and unsettling (a stone crucifix being engorged by a tree).
Finally, Matthew Finn’s series, Mother, is heartbreaking in its chronological progression around the top floor of the gallery; these ‘collaborative portraits’ chart the life of the photographer’s mother, from an open-faced, peaceful looking woman sitting in the sun through the deterioration of her mental health and eventual move into a home. A powerful showcase for a new photography award.