Inspiration from isolation: Congratulations to Year 12 Carey photographer Emma John

We are proud to share that current Year 12 VCE Media student Emma John has had her work accepted into the Ballarat International Foto Biennale (BIFB) – Mass Isolation Exhibition 2021.

Emma produced these photos titled Iso hope as part of her Year 11 VCE Media portraiture task during lockdown in August 2020. The images were produced in-line with COVID-19 restrictions. This is a very prestigious international photographic exhibition and a great honour for Emma.

The exhibition runs from 28 August–24 October in Ballarat.

‘Both inspired by and also personally affected by the current COVID-19 pandemic, I visualised my photographic portrait narrative to reflect the extreme isolation and lack of social interaction that people face at the moment. We are all missing our loved ones. Specifically, my narrative aims to showcase some members of my family and celebrate their strength, care and optimism shown in their relationships despite the feelings of sadness, hopelessness and lack of certainty for the future that surround them. These stylistic elements are employed in my images in a naturalistic way focussing on the sub-genres of family portraits, incorporating lifestyle and environmental portraiture.

‘I hope to promote to my audience through my emotive mise en scene an encouraging sense of hope and optimism for the future that positively celebrates the strength witnessed between people who are isolated from loved ones and friends at this time. I hope to communicate a realistic, authentic, hopeful and positive style in my images, so my audience feels that my subjects are relatable and personable to them. Family is an essential part of life and regardless of the good or bad times and the journey travelled, my portraits will celebrate my family’s bond, care and support for one another as the viewer gazes into my family’s windows at their homes and becomes curious about what it is that they are seeing and thinking as the subject gazes back at them.’

– Emma John, on her 2020 Iso hope digital photography series

The Mass Isolation project was created during 2020 to ‘establish a visual record of the pandemic and quickly became a way to see the pandemic unfold through Australian eyes, and a source of connection and community in a time of social distance,’ according to BIFB.

Photographs from around Australia were uploaded to Instagram and selected for exhibition from the by curators Shaohui Kwok and Amelia Saward. Students from 48 schools around the country were also inspired to participate, including several from Carey. With the help and guidance of their teachers and street photographer Jesse Marlow, students were encouraged to document their own lockdown experiences.

We are so proud and excited that Emma’s work has been selected for the exhibition. Hopefully Melbournians will be able to visit during September or October to see this portrayal of a period of Australian history and to celebrate one of our Year 12 students.

Kim Baumann
Media Teacher

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