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Murray Art Museum Albury awards Ellen Dahl $30,000 National Photography Prize 2024

Ellen Dahl
Murray Art Museum Albury

Selected from 12 finalists by judge Nici Cumpston OAM, Ellen Dahl’s winning work Four Days Before Winter is part of the ongoing project Field Notes from the Edge exploring the peripheral Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard – the fastest warming place on earth.

The four part work presents close up details of collapsing terrain due to melting permafrost as a result of ongoing coal mining in the region. The series not only brings into question the devastating effects of climate change, but also considers photography’s intrinsic involvement in how we see and feel about the world around us. Originally from arctic Norway, Ellen Dahl now lives on Gadigal Land, Sydney.

Established in 1983, the National Photography Prize is Australia's longest running acquisitive photographic award and offers a unique opportunity to consider the vital role of photography in contemporary art in Australia. The biennial award showcases the work of leading and emerging artists from across the country who are pushing the boundaries of the photographic medium, and challenging existing languages and techniques.

The $5000 John and Margaret Baker Fellowship has been awarded to Olga Svyatova for their work Они/They, an ongoing photographic project that explores multiple connections between time, relationships, and archival images. Svyatova appropriates their own personal experience of differing cultures and histories to invite reflections on the intricate connections that sustain our lives across time and space.

Selected by an expert panel comprising Nanette Orly, Senior Curator, Murray Art Museum Albury, Bala Starr, Director, La Trobe Art Institute, Bendigo, and Tiyan Baker, 2022 National Photography Prize Winner, the 2024 National Photography Prize finalists include Australian artists and collectives; Alex Walker & Daniel O’Toole, Ali McCann, Ali Tahayori, Ellen Dahl, Ioulia Panoutsopoulos, Izabela Pluta, Kai Wasikowski, Nathan Beard, Olga Svyatova, Rebecca McCauley & Aaron Claringbold, Sammy Hawker, and Skye Wagner.

The finalists' works touch on themes of the environment and its degradation, cultural and familial histories, and connection to time and place. Developed in close consultation with the MAMA curatorial team, they span large-scale installations, collages and assemblages, archival and chemical processes, to more intimate and personal moments

Ellen Dahl, 2024 National Photography Prize Winner said, “The series ‘Four Days Before Winter’ brings together multiple aspects of concerns and ideas within my practice; exploring the expanded photographic field to extract sense of place and affect, geological imagination, time and how to assemble ecological meaning in the time of climate change. The final work presented in the National Photography Prize is a reflection on all this, and I consider my process a three-way collaboration between the site of Svalbard (and what it chose to reveal right at the cusp of winter), the camera optics and the artist. For ‘Four Days Before Winter’ to be acknowledged in this way by judge Nici Cumpston, amongst such an incredible cohort, within a highly respected photographic prize - one that consider a body of work rather than just a single image, feels incredible and humbling.”

Blair French, MAMA CEO said, “The National Photography Prize brings together some of the most outstanding contemporary artists working with photography in Australia, and the calibre of this year’s prize continues to raise the bar. The Prize is one of the foundations of our renowned contemporary photography collection, and we are proud to present a platform that supports both established and emerging artists, recognising the achievements of artists today as well as investing in the future of experimental photographic practice.”

Nici Cumpston OAM, 2024 National Photography Prize Judge said: “The 2024 National Photography Prize is a dynamic showcase of contemporary photography today. I’d like to congratulate all the finalists and thank them for continuing the tradition and evolution of the photographic medium. Congratulations to the overall winner Ellen Dahl for her heartbreakingly beautiful images from the series, ‘Four Days Before Winter’, sharing the harsh reality of global warming on the Arctic environment in the Norwegian Archipelago of Svalbard. Congratulations also to Olga Svyatova for winning the John and Margaret Baker Fellowship for their uncanny juxtaposition of archival biological family photographs from Russia, alongside more recent images of their chosen family and friends. The images are quirky and humorous and openly share a sense of humanness across time and place.”

Media Contacts:

Available for Media Interview:

  • Blair French
  • Ellen Dahl

Please contact Annie Falcke to arrange interviews.
Annie Falcke
0438 509 942

A large photograph of an icy landscape protruding from a black wall
A large photograph of a rocky waterfall hanging from the ceiling against the corner of a black wall
A landscape photograph of fog covering the top of a mountain against the water edge, the photograph encased in a white light box

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