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Review: The Perth Centre for Photography’s Iris Award 2017 –
Review by: Belinda Hermawan –

This year’s finalists for the Iris Award have captured humanity and its various vulnerabilities, focusing a lens on the states of being that either render us fragile or force us to be strong. Perth Centre for Photography’s Iris Award recognises new and outstanding portraiture in photographic art, and these portraits are intimate. Many depict a subject in the domestic realm, others are framed in locations that may be outdoors but are tied to domesticity. Still, there is freedom in these pieces – each scene catching a moment of free will.

Judges Michelle Dunn Marsh (executive director at the Photographic Centre Northwest, Seattle), Katrin Koenning (photographic artist, Melbourne) and Emily Hornum (local interdisciplinary artist working across photography, new media and installation art) had a tough choice to make. In the end, they crowned Su Cassiano the winner for Divide and Dissolve (pictured top), an understated yet masterful photograph of two women sitting side by side on a couch. While there’s a sense of contemplation in the dimly lit set up, the pair radiate a certain lightness that cuts through the predominantly monochromatic scene.

In the student category, Dom Krapski won for Dear ‘ol dad, an evocative photograph of hands in a plate of white ashes. The mourner is literally holding his departed father, unafraid of getting his hands sullied by the remains. This points to the strength of familial connections, the blue tone of the surface on which the vessel sits somehow ethereal.

Student Winner: Dom Krapski, ‘Dear ‘ol Dad’, 2017.

Other notable mentions include Matthew Abbott’s Highly Commended Amelia, Wilcannia Playground, NSW 2015. Picturing a child on playground equipment in an industrial-looking setting, this image contains striking movement . Tim Palman’s Memorial, Parmelia Road is a spectacular photograph of a roadside memorial in full neon glory. Nina-Marie Thomas’s photograph Ten, which also features as the cover image in issue 62.1 of Westerly, moves beyond its ten-year-old subject to convey the shades of adolescence we all have within in us. David Symons Still…life and Olive Lipscombe’s (Couple) Rumpus Room are active stories in otherwise still interior rooms.

Judges Commendation: Matthew Abbott, ‘Amelia, Wilcannia Playground, NSW, 2015’, 2015

In its new Subiaco location, the Perth Centre for Photography continues to demonstrate why it attracts local support. All the finalists in the open and student categories are worthy of an extended look. By the time you exit back onto Hay St, you’ll have visited the poignant worlds of dozens of fellow humans. And, trust me, you’ll be all the better for it.

The Iris Award 2017 is exhibiting at the Perth Centre for Photography in Subiaco until 30 September.

Pictured top: Overall Winner: Su Cassiano, ‘Divide and Dissolve’, 2017

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