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RCA Photography student wins Sony Student Photographer of the Year 2020

RCA Photography student Ioanna Sakellaraki has been named Student Photographer of the Year 2020 in the Sony World Photography Awards. Ioanna was awarded the prize for her night-time photographs of solar panels, wind turbines and battery farms that are used across the small island of Tilos in Greece, the first Mediterranean island to run almost entirely on renewable energy. The series was Ioanna’s response to the brief, which asked shortlisted students to produce a body of work about environmental sustainability. Ioanna received a Sony camera to make the work and €30,000 worth of Sony digital imaging equipment for the RCA.


Ioanna Sakellaraki, Aeiforia, 2020
Aeiforia, Ioanna Sakellaraki 2020
Photography
Ioanna commented: ‘I am honoured to have been awarded the title of the Student Photographer of the Year. My series Aeiforia enabled me to share a positive story on the theme of sustainability by capturing the landscape as a passage into the night ambiance of the Greek island of Tilos. I hope that this honourable recognition will give me the opportunity to work on many more assignments of this kind. I am also thankful on behalf of The Royal College of Art for receiving the excellent equipment Sony generously offers as it will help other students to realise new projects with it.’

Dean of the School of Arts & Humanities, Ken Neil commented: ‘Congratulations to Ioanna for this fantastic achievement. Her photographs highlight an important story about sustainability and share a positive message concerning the way individuals can contribute to change. The equipment from Sony will help our students in creating responses to important issues - and will enable the College to continue supporting talented students like Ioanna develop their skills, aptitudes and ambitions.’


Entrants to the Student competition, which is open to academic institutions worldwide, initially submitted a body of work responding to the topic ‘Invisible Lines’. For this brief Ioanna produced a series inspired by the origins of ancient Greek laments and the traditional communities of the last female professional mourners on the Mani peninsula in Greece. 

Ioanna Sakellaraki, Aeiforia, 2020
Aeiforia, Ioanna Sakellaraki 2020

In a statement accompanying the series, Ioanna explains: ‘In a way, these images work as vehicles to mourn perished ideals of vitality, prosperity and belonging. By connecting my poignant grief with the dramatisations performed by the professional mourners, I look into the subjective spirituality of Greek death rituals. I am interested in how the image affirms things in their disappearance and gives us the power to use things in their absence through fiction.’

The Truth is in the Soil, was chosen in the first part of the competition.
The truth is in the soil, Ioanna Sakellaraki 2020
Photography
The ten shortlisted students were given a Sony camera to shoot a new series of images to answer a second brief ‘Sustainability Now’. Ioanna’s winning images were taken in the capital of Tilos, where only 70 inhabitants live during the winter and rely on renewable sources of energy. At night, the tiny island passages are lit only by moonlight, which transforms the limestone rooftops and yards into a playground where Ioanna documented the different improvised devices. She explained her approach: ‘I am interested in how those strangely shaped devices and wires become an organic part of the night scenery as the darkness falls and they orchestrate a vivid ambience with their composition in a harmonic symbiosis with the dry nature and mountainous landscape of Tilos.’


Ioanna Sakellaraki and the other winning photographers are being celebrated across the World Photography Organisation’s online channels and platforms using dedicated content including videos, presentations and live Q&As. A digital showcase of this year’s winning and finalist projects and images is available via the On Screen page. 

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