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Unforgettable, evanescent image wins photography prize

The Rising by Hannah Davey
A first-year art student’s visual exploration of internal struggle has won the 2018 Simon Devitt Prize for Photography.


Hannah Davey from Elam School of Fine Art at the University of Auckland, was named the contest winner at the opening of the finalists’ work, held at the Gus Fisher Gallery on Tuesday.

Her image entitled The Rising beat dozens of other entries, winning the student a trophy, NZ$1,000 and a Canon camera.

Davey shifted to Auckland from the South Island earlier this year to begin a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at Elam. Her image was taken in her home town of Wanaka, using a friend as a model.

“The theme was ‘Mythical’ and with my image I juxtaposed strong earthy elements and dark colours, with bright light, to portray a half beast, half human figure who is struggling, both literally and metaphorically. I was exploring making the invisible visible. Specifically, internal struggles and what’s going on in your mind,” says Davey.

The Simon Devitt Prize for Photography is held annually and recognises the most compelling photograph taken by a full-time student from the Faculty of Creative Arts and Industries, at the University of Auckland.

Now in its tenth year, the award was established by Devitt, who specialises in and teaches architectural photography at the University.

“This year’s winning entry stood out to me from my very first encounter with it,” says Devitt. “Unforgettable, evanescent, and seemingly able to glow with its own energy source, the subject seduces the viewer with its grace, while also questioning the audience with its ambiguous intent. The theme ‘Mythical’ is explored in a very quiet and powerful manner, while subtly drawing on a vast array of historical influences,” he says.

Although it’s early days for Davey, she says ideally she would like to get into fashion photography. “At Elam I’m learning how to create ideas and express them, and then my hope is to take that and put it into a fashion photography context.”

Mythical: The Simon Devitt Prize for Photography exhibition runs until Saturday 28th of July, at the Gus Fisher Gallery, 74 Shortland Street, Auckland Central.

Written by

University of Auckland

25 Jun 2018