Naomi claims Wysing Arts Centre's inaugural Topham Award

Published: 20 May 2011 at 11:41

Anglia Ruskin photography graduate secures a year’s funded studio space

Anglia Ruskin University graduate and Cambridge resident Naomi Peel has won the inaugural Topham Award for photography.

The annual award, which has been set up by Wysing Arts Centre in Bourn, was announced at a drinks reception in Cambridge on Friday evening.  The award is funded by local landowner and Wysing patron William Topham, whose son Matthew is a photographer.

Naomi’s prize includes a year’s funded studio space, worth more than £2,000, at Wysing Arts Centre, plus a solo exhibition in conjunction with Anglia Ruskin University towards the end of her residency.

Naomi, 40, said:

“It’s great to have this opportunity to work at Wysing and use the support structure of the arts centre to further my work.  I’m really excited to be given this opportunity.”

The winner was selected by a panel consisting of William and Matthew Topham; Donna Lynas, the Director of Wysing Arts Centre; and Kerstin Hacker, the Pathway Leader for Anglia Ruskin’s BA (Hons) Photography degree course.

Kerstin Hacker said:

“Naomi Peel’s photographic artwork draws on memory and daydreams creating new interpretations of the past. She is an articulate and sophisticated visual communicator. The Topham Award will allow her to continue her exploration into the folklore of the Fens.”

Naomi’s delicate photographs caught the eye of the judging panel, who were impressed by both her photomontage technique and the concept behind her work.  Her photos reconstruct ideas around the family photo album, using images of places important to her alongside existing family photographs to combine past and present.

Commenting on her work, Naomi said:

“Memory and daydream are played off against one another creating new interpretations of the past. Familiar places provoke the subconscious allowing me to explore the fragility of life. I’m interested in the compulsion to hold onto the past and how much energy goes into freezing and preserving the moment.

“Though my work references my own childhood, I am exploring broader issues, historical and social, in an attempt to reframe the family album and create a new dialogue within a familial framework.”

The Topham Award is the first of its kind for Wysing Arts Centre and was open to graduates from Anglia Ruskin’s BA (Hons) Photography course as well as current third-year students.