By Angus Smith
The Victoria University at MetroWest (‘VU at MetroWest’) gallery was bursting at the seams when over 350 guests and participants descended on the Nicholson Street venue to hear the announcement of the Picturing Footscray photography prize winner.
Winning photographer Christian Lukasik said he knew he had something special before he snapped his untitled photo, depicting shoppers from many cultures and generations, taken from the viewpoint of a market stall holder.
“My intuition told me there was something special about the scene, so I raised my camera and snapped a few shots,” Lukasik said.
Roaming, Confident and Tall as the Sun by John Umina collected the $2,000 second prize, and You are My Sunshine by Julia Wong won $500 for third. Holiday in the West by Mikaela Foster and The Footscray Fishmonger by William Ainger were highly commended.
The prize, now in its second year, received over 300 entries —many of whom were VU students and alumni — as well as many members of the wider VU and western suburbs community. Margaret Burin, photo journalist with the ABC, was this year’s Picturing Footscray judge. Burin said the competition was fun, but at the same time, really tough to judge.
“Every photo was like a little piece in a big jigsaw puzzle, giving us a really full picture of Footscray and its character in one room.”
According to Burin, the winning photo by Christian Lukasik had great contrast, colour and composition.
“There are fantastic expressions. And in one frame, I think it perfectly captures the mix of different cultures and generations of people that call Footscray home.”
Kerry O’Neill, VU’s Footscray University Town Manager, said that she was truly overwhelmed with the quality and extraordinary level of engagement and enthusiasm displayed in this year’s competition.
“Picturing Footscray can only get bigger and better. It is a great example of VU and the community coming together to celebrate local creativity and community pride. If you knew nothing about Footscray or VU and the west of Melbourne, you would only need to spend five minutes at the Picturing Footscray exhibition to know everything you need to know, and what a fabulously diverse place it is,” O’Neill said.
O’Neill acknowledged the collaboration with Due West: Immersive Arts Festival, and also thanked the VU Choir, the Choir of Opportunity, for their “delightful” performance on the night and encouraged the public to vote in the People’s Choice Award. This year the People’s’ Choice Award will be judged by Facebook ‘likes’ through an album on the VU in the Community Facebook page. Bonus Facebook likes can be obtained by visiting the exhibition where a 10 ‘like boost’ vote can be lodged.
In the first weekend, over 2,000 people voted on photos in the album and over 20,000 photo views were recorded. All entries are currently on exhibit at VU at MetroWest, 138 Nicholson Street, Footscray until Friday 15 September. Voting closes at 5pm on the last day and the winner will be announced the following Monday.
In 2017, Picturing Footscray partnered with Due West: Immersive Arts Festival.