When organisers of the inaugural Expressions photography competition made the decision to advertise the event online, they could not have predicted the reaction that they went on to receive.
“We decided, for cost reasons and convenience, to run it and promote it online,” explained Longford County Arts Officer Fergus Kennedy. “What we overlooked was the global nature of the website.”
Ireland’s largest dedicated arts photography portrait competition and exhibition, Expressions quickly grew legs and soon, entries were coming in from all over the world.
“The reaction was great and we were surprised with not only the amount but the quality of the entries,” explained organiser, Shelley Corcoran. “We knew the talent was out there, but being our first year, we were unsure whether they would hear about us.
“Also the fact that we received entries that literally spanned the globe was so exciting, places like Israel, Mexico and the USA, just to mention a few.”
19-year-old Adrian Wojtas, a student of Photography in IADT, was one of the Highly Commended photographers. For him, being named among the Highly Commended ‘felt great’.
“The only notice that was given was that I’d been selected to be exhibited alongside 49 other artists for the show in Longford, so when it was announced that I was one of the three Highly Commended finalists it was a total surprise, I felt quite shocked but also very pleased,” he said.
Anna Kerslake, a 25-year-old photographer from Dublin was another of the Highly Commended. Also a student at IADT, Anna was previously a finalist for Photographer of the Year at the Smedias and has photographed a number of famous faces.
A music lover, her ‘kind of angelic but kind of dark’ photograph was inspired by and based on the song ‘Youth’ from her favourite band Daughter’s album ‘If you leave’.
A native of Newport, Co Mayo, Micheál Quinn, admitted that he “entered for the craic,” and was shocked when he was named among the Highly Commended.
“To be honest with you, I honestly entered it just for the sake of entering it.”
Offering sincere thanks to the organisers, and complimenting his fellow competitors, Micheál pointed out that it’s always nice to get an insight into the work of his contemporaries.
For Shelley, focusing on the art aspect of the photographs was important, so the three Highly Commended artists and the winner Horia Manolache, who was at the exhibition in July via video link, stood out for both the quality of their work and the concept behind their pieces.
“All entrants had to supply a description of their work, the concept behind it,” Shelley explained. “The winner Horia Manolache, photographed homeless people, how they are today and also what they aspired to be before their life took a downward spiral. This concept just blew us away.”
Following the huge success of the inaugural competition, plans are already underway to make next year’s event bigger and better. What’s more, after next year, organisers are hoping to run Expressions biannually.
Acknowledging the ‘huge effort invested’ by Shelley, Angelika Sowul and the rest of the organising team, Fergus added that he is extremely excited about the future of the competition, concluding, “It has the capacity to put Longford on the global map.”