PROJECT LAUNCH: Juror's Statement

Jurors: Laura Ruth & Fred Bidwell, Bidwell Projects & Bidwell Foundation & Transformer Station

We enjoyed viewing and discussing the hundreds of portfolios immensely. While it seemed at first overwhelming, surfing through these entries revealed many strong bodies of work and our eagerness to see more kept us going strong. Powerful, well-executed images, crisp concepts and emotional impact were what attracted us to a short list of finalists. The fact that our selections had little overlap with that of the other two jurors is a testimony to the strength and quality of the entries.

In the end, it was not difficult for us all to agree that the Guy Martin's City of Dreams, which mixes the drama of Turkish Soap Operas with the reality of social turmoil in Instanbul, had the formal, conceptual and emotional impact to be awarded First Place.

We chose Amiko Li's work, Saudade, for our juror's choice award because of it's compelling simplicity, wonder and quiet strangeness. This is work of impressive maturity from a very promising young artist.

PROJECT LAUNCH: Juror's Statement

Juror: Roger Watson, Curator, Fox Talbot Museum, Lacock, England

The Project Launch submissions were of a broader and higher quality spectrum than I have come to expect from open grants and awards. All deserved some consideration and many required repeated visits to explore the subtlety, story line and beauty of the work. Some told stories that were intriguing and occasionally eye opening. Others were explorations of the ageless examination of light, colour, texture and beauty. Some were extremely personal while others had the subjective eye of the photojournalist. The breadth of style, structure and composition of the images made judging the works a joy.

The request for 15-20 images caused some participants to fall short with some offering too few images to make a judgment while others diluted a short series by padding it out with extraneous images. Some stories are short and to the point and have a serious value in this field, but this is not the grant for those stories.

I took my first impression seriously but continued to look at the quality and consistency of the subject matter. I tried to determine the story line before reading the artist’s statement and then judged the work against the intent. I was drawn to the ones that seemed to exhibit technical expertise while at the same time bending that skill to the benefit of their story. The ability to work across a number of images while maintaining a central story or theme is not always easy. Judging works by artists unknown to us is a highly subjective exercise and the failure to succeed in this competitive grant isn’t an automatic rejection of the work. There were a great many portfolios that fell at the last hurdle when a judgment had to be made to winnow the masses down to the few.

My juror’s choice was Richard Tuschman’s Hopper Meditations. Here in the UK there are several artists who have chosen to reassemble and replicate the works of classic painters and their mythical themes, but Richard has chosen, to my mind, the one painter who worked in the manner of a number of current photographers. He captured the mundane, daily lives of people while exploring the effects of light and shade on them and their environment. The images reminded me of Gregory Crewdson’s constructed images, but with a simpler cast and palette. They don’t tell a completely contemporary story of the world as it is lived today, as many of the documentary photographers did with great effect in this competition. Instead they are, like Hopper’s paintings, a quiet meditation on the timeless psychological weight of lives lived.

PROJECT LAUNCH: Juror's Statement

Juror: Patrick Witty, formerly International Photo Editor, TIME Magazine; currently Director of Photography, Wired Magazine

The Project Launch grant submissions represented a diverse cross-section of contemporary documentary and fine art photography dealing with a broad range of subject matter. The work submitted was beautifully divergent - ranging from highly personal, emotionally-compelling stories to hard-hitting, impactful documentary projects and beyond. As a juror, it was deeply inspiring.

All of these qualities and more were elegantly combined in Guy Martin’s project, “City of Dreams”. Beautiful, formal, impactful and revealing, Martin’s project is a true reflection of modern documentary work. The photos are a compelling mixture of cinematic surreality and intense reportage, asking more questions than they answer.

My juror’s choice went to Clare Carter’s provocative series, “Corrective Rape,” exploring hate crimes against the LGBTI community in South Africa. Unflinching and intimate, Carter’s work demands attention – and action.

It was an honor to be part of the jury.


Laura Ruth & Fred Bidwell
Project Launch

Juror Statement

Roger Watson
Project Launch

Juror Statement

Patrick Witty
Project Launch

Juror Statement


Guy Martin

Jurors' Choice:


Winner: Guy Martin

Artist Statement: City of Dreams

A woman prepares for a prisoner exchange, outskirts of Istanbul. 

A fake Mosque being built. Film lot, Beykoz district, Istanbul. 

Residents of the Kartal suburb watch filming of "as time goes by" a multi-million dollar soap opera with the biggest soap stars in the middle east perform in their drive-way 

Cityscape backdrop, Istanbul, 2013 

A man and his wife sit in a car on the outskirts of the city prepairing for a journey into the centre. 

People watch and film police confront a crowd, Gezi Park, Istanbul. 

Murder of the mistress, Istanbul, 2013 

The Kanlicia neighbourhood of Istanbul, Asian/Anatolyian side of the Bosphorus Sea. 

The femme fatal awaits instructions, Beykoz film lot, Istanbul. 

Women watch police fire tear gas canisters close to where they are standing. Gezi Park, Istanbul. 

A man comforts his girlfriend in a mansion on the Bosphorus, Istanbul, 2013 

A man approaches a murder scene, Istanbul, March 2013 

A woman waits for an illicit meeting, Nightclub Cassablanca, Istanbul, February, 2013 

Young army recruits respond to an emergency, Beykoz, Istanbul, 2013 

Scripts in an apartment block, Istanbul, April 2013 

Taksim Square, June, 2013 

A murder scene, outksirts of Istanbul, 2013 

A woman collapses into her chair after a heated argument. Beykoz, Istanbul, 2013 

An injured man on the grounds of the, Dolmabache Palace, Istanbul, June 2013 

A damaged bust of Kamal Attaturk founder of modern day Turkey, Istanbul 2013 

Guy Martin — City of Dreams

Marital affairs, blood feuds, divorce and murder; scenarios that although may not reflect the reality of contemporary life in Istanbul, are the plot lines of Turkish soap operas that are drawing in tens of millions of viewers from Athens to Riyadh.

The rise in popularity across the Arab world and Balkan countries has made Turkish dramas a huge commercial success, and a vital component of Turkey’s soft power strategy. It is a way for Turkey to export its culture of secularism and wealth to an audience dying to know more about its close neighbour.

Arab viewers are fascinated with the shows because they purport to reveal how Turks, particularly Turkish women, handle modernity. One series finale pulled in staggering global audience figures of 85 million, with over 50 million of those viewers reported to be female.

Now, as the Arab world finds itself in a period of flux, many television viewers are, consciously or not, looking to Turkey for a lifestyle and governance that is both Muslim and modern.

But in May 2013, as these shows were in their final weeks of filming for the summer season, Istanbul was witnessing its’ own, very real, dramatic events. Thousands of young, secular Turks took to the streets to initially demonstrate against overzealous construction projects, but these rallies quickly grew to wide scale protests against a series of government-backed policies that were seen to curb civil liberties and promote Islamic conservatism.