09 November 2017

Raphaela Rosella Wins the PHmuseum 2017 Women Photographers Grant

09 November 2017 - Written by Simon Hall

The Australian photographer was awarded the first prize with the project You’ll Know It When You Feel It, which narrates the complex and cyclical nature of social disadvantages in Australia.

© Raphaela Rosella, from the series You'll Know It When You Feel It (Main Prize winner)

A jury composed of Donna Ferrato (Photographer), Alessia Glaviano (Vogue Italia), Rebecca McClelland (Independent Curator) and Daniella Zalcman (Photographer) awarded the £5,000 Main Prize of the first PHmuseum Women Photographers Grant to the project, You’ll Know It When You Feel It by Australian photographer Raphaela Rosella.

Judge Daniella Zalcman explained the jury’s decision: “Raphaela Rosella’s work is at once breathtakingly intimate and universal in its subject matter. Her photographs are poetic interpretations of complicated realities - she tackles some of the most difficult issues that can consume the human experience, and always does so with dignity and empathy. Much of her work focuses on young women caught in cycles of poverty and social disadvantage, but her portrayals of motherhood, incarceration, and domestic violence are always dignified and nuanced. You’ll Know It When You Feel It feels rooted in a fundamental desire to understand members of her family and her immediate community - and to allow her audience to see these individuals in the same empathetic light.”

© Heba Khamis, from the series Banned Beauty (Second Prize winner)

The Second Prize of £2,000 was assigned to Egyptian photographer Heba Khamis’ Banned Beauty, a project about breast ironing in Cameroon. Donna Ferrato commented “Heba Khamis earned the judges total respect with her deeply intimate work, Banned Beauty. These no nonsense, black and white photographs are a living testament to the clever Cameroon women who fiercely protect young girls from the selfishness of sexual predators.”

“With her camera, Ms. Khamis, the budding story teller, shows her unique penchant for catching hard won moments: simply by being there with an open mind. And as Khamis walks in the footprints of women living in male dominated societies we find a framework for beauty that defies definition. As Heba says in her own words: “Even as the women suffer, their labours are providing the means to educate their children and give them a better life.” This is the hope hidden inside the folds of suffering.”

© Sanne De Wilde, from the series The Island of the Colorblind (Third Prize winner)

The Island of the Colorblind by Belgian photographer Sanne De Wilde claimed the Third Prize of £1,000. The series tells the story of the inhabitants of Pingelap - a tiny atoll in the Pacific Ocean - who are affected by achromatopsia, an eye disease characterised by extreme light sensitivity, poor vision, and the complete inability to distinguish colours.

Alessia Glaviano says of the project: “What makes Sanne’s project so relevant is how she approached the subject matter. She went a step ahead of just narrating the story in a more conventional way, so that the aesthetics of the images itself contribute to deliver the message. The Island of the Colorblind is a clever multi-layered work, where ethics and aesthetics meet in a very poetic and compelling way. I feel that nowadays with the incredible amount of excellent work out there, we need more and more projects like this whose approach is at the intersection between reality and a more individual and artistic version of it, which could - sometimes - be the best way to direct attention on a given topic. We should embrace the fact that in a period that sees an increasing sophistication in terms of visual language, there are different ways of telling a story in order to generate curiosity and interest even on current and relevant events and topics.”

© Fabiola Cedillo, from the series, Los Mundos de Tita (PHM 2017 Women Photographers Grant New Generation Prize winner)

The New Generation Prize - assigned to a photographer under 30 years of age - was awarded to Ecuadorian photographer Fabiola Cedillo. The prize includes a workshop at the 2018 International Summer School of Photography in Latvia and a nomination to World Press Photo’s Joop Swart Masterclass. Her project, Los Mundos De Tita, portrays the everyday life of her older sister affected by epileptic seizure spasms.

Rebecca McClelland said of Fabiola’s work: “El Mundo de Tita is a beautifully lyrical and curious series of images that had a deep effect on me. Such is the confidence of image making that I find quite rare. With warmth, playfulness, intensity we are led into the wonderland of Tita’s fragile world. Tita, the photographer’s elder sister is diagnosed with Lennox Gastout syndrome and remains in her childlike state, dependent on medicine and her family’s support. This is a complex personal narrative, of sisters, of disability and of a family’s need and ability to adapt. The photographer’s loyalty to her subject is evident: you get the sense that she is making the work for Tita. Not for any award, or recognition or audience. Photography is a simple, sometimes secret, sometimes joyful practice between the two of them. The work has a depth of integrity that I am grateful for. The submission was accompanied by text by Tita and Cedillo’s father, words which I appreciated and found moving. The visual language is challenging and refreshing, breaking with several codes of documentary practice; she plays with quality of image, in-camera imperfections and repetitious editing. The mixing of several genres alights the subject to create an unsentimental body of work that the judges unanimously commend her on.”

© Ulla Deventer, from the series, Butterflies are Sign of Good Thing

The Organ Vida International Photography Festival Prize, which grants a solo exhibition at the upcoming edition of the Croatian festival, was assigned by Organ Vida’s Artistic Director Marina Paulenka to German Photographer Ulla Deventer’s project Butterflies are Sign of Good Thing. The work is a multifaceted research on the plights and living conditions amongst youths, particularly sex-workers, who have dreams to leave their country, but also minors, who struggle to avoid entering prostitution.

The juries also awarded six Honorable Mentions in the Main Prize category, namely Jin - Jiyan - Azadi: Women, Life, Freedom (Sonja Hamad), Facing Up: Acid Attacks In Colombia (Betty Laura Zapata), Variation of White (Miia Autio), All of Them Witches (Bego Anton), The Black Line (Annalisa Natali Murri), and Coming Home: Unionville (Gabriella Demczuk).

Beckon Us From Home (Sarah Blesener), and Venezuela: Blurred In Despair (Fabiola Ferrero) received Honorable Mentions in the New Generation Prize category.


See all the awarded projects at

Written by

Simon Hall

Reading time

7 minutes

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