Best work of graduating students from Aus and NZ recognised

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The Ballarat International Foto Biennale has announced the winners of GradFoto 2023, celebrating the best work of graduating students from selected Australian and New Zealand institutions whose artistic practice uses photography as its primary medium.

Zina Sofer, Out of the Shadows. Supplied.
Zina Sofer, Out of the Shadows. Supplied.

International judge Virginia Woods-Jack, curator of Women in Photography NZ & AU, selected 21 finalists, with Zina Sofer from RMIT University announced as the overall winner for their series Out of the Shadows, 2023

The image explores the history of the War Widows' Guild of Australia and its founder and president Mrs. Jessie Mary Vasey O.B.E and C.B.E. At its height, the Guild was involved in advocacy, education, support, counselling, and housing for widows.

Today, part of its legacy is a large housing estate in Elsternwick that is now facing demolition to make room for luxury units. The estate was built in 1950s specifically for the war widows and their families by the Guild.

Speaking about the image, Woods-Jack described the image as captivating and beautifully executed.

"It pays tribute to this impactful organisation [War Widows’ Guild of Australia], the individual women, and the skills they employed to secure better futures for themselves and their families outside of the patriarchy in post-war Australia," she said.

For many women involved with the Guild, weaving was a lifeline, as it supplemented widows' unlivable pension, and it played one of the major roles in establishing weaving as an industry in Australia. 

Zina Sofer wins $1,000, with their image exhibited as part of the GradFoto 2023 exhibition. You can see the images here. 

Another finalist will be awarded one cash prize of $500 for the People’s Choice Award, as voted by the public throughout the GradFoto 2023 exhibition. Voting closes 4 March 2024. 

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