Sixty-six finalists for the 2023 William and Winifred Bowness Photography Prize – one of Australia’s most prestigious photography prizes – have been announced. Melbourne’s Museum of Australian Photography (MAPh), which hosts the award, received more than 640 submissions, which were judged by Art Gallery of South Australia director Rhana Devenport, artist Michael Cook and MAPh director Anouska Phizacklea. The winner, to be announced on September 28, will receive $30,000, and have their work added to the MAPh’s collection.

Each artist produced their work over the past year, offering a snapshot into Australian life during this time. Judges praised entrants’ experimentation and creativity, particularly in the area of cameraless imagery. Both emerging and established artists, working in film and/or digital media, were welcome to submit works.

“The thematic concerns present within the works reflect pressing issues that as a society we are grappling with,” said Phizacklea in a statement. “What is incredibly exciting is how artists are pushing the medium of photography – from experimenting with cameraless works to conceiving of a photograph as a sculptural form that leaps off the walls and inhabits your space. The dynamism of these works presents quite an exciting prospect for curating the disparate works into a cohesive whole.”

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Gerwyn Davies’s work Altavista (Alpine) shows a surreal costumed figure in an alpine landscape, while Stephen Dupont’s striking Untitled, a black-and-white piece from his series Are We Dead Yet?, has a plastic bag foregrounded before the chimneys of Port Kembla steelworks puffing smoke. Meanwhile, Murray Fredericks’s Blaze #12, Muloorina depicts a vivid flame in a La Niña-ravaged landscape.

“The calibre of submissions this year was quite breathtaking in its reach and quality,
and is a reflection of the sheer ingenuity and experimentation taking place in the field of lens-based and cameraless imagery,” said Devenport in a statement. “The work of these finalists will form a powerful and fascinating must-see exhibition.”

Other finalists include Robert Ashton, known for capturing ’70s Fitzroy; Tom Blachford, who snaps buildings by moonlight; Tamara Dean, whose work explores our connection with nature and rites of passage; and colourful duo The Huxleys.

The works will be exhibited at the MAPh from September 21 to November 12.