Skip to Content

UN Prize for Clever Photos

Published: 28 Oct 2016

A passionate desire to see a sustainable and ethical fashion industry inspired CIT graduate Lydia Downe's winning entry in the UN-CIT 2016 Photographic Competition.

Lydia's win was announced on Wednesday at an exhibition of CIT student's entries selected as competition finalists hosted by the CSIRO Discovery Centre. Winning the United National Information Centre's (UNIC) major prize will see Lydia travel to Fiji to take up an internship with UN Women.

It was the seventh year UNIC and CIT collaborated to inspire excellence and provide CIT photography students with a chance to win an internship with a UN organisation or an Australian national cultural institution. CIT's partners all sit on the competition judging panel.

The hotly contested UN-CIT competition has seen past winners document the work of UN missions in East Timor and Papua New Guinea. In 2013, UNIC arranged for CIT graduate Dru Maasepp to travel to Banda Aceh in Indonesia a decade after the devastating 2004 tsunami to document the recovery efforts and its enduring effects.

Lydia will follow in the footsteps of last year's winner, Eva Schroder, who also travelled to Fiji with UN Women where she documented the lives of rural women.

Eva's work went on to be part of the major national Head On Photo Festival. Eva's solo exhibition 'Beneath the Bula Smile' was held in Sydney and in Canberra. In 2015 Eva also won the Sydney Morning Herald's prestigious Clique Summer Herald Photo Competition with a defining portrait of her grandmother. Eva is now working professionally with the Canberra Weekly.

Three other CIT students won internships with Canberra-based national cultural institutions partnering CIT in this year's competition.

Jessica Charley won an internship with the National Gallery of Australia, Alec Morris an internship with CSIRO and Ari Rexhepaj with the Australian War Memorial. Jessica also won the CIT People's Choice award providing her with free CIT printing.

CIT Technology and Design Director Fiona Dace-Lynn told the crowd Eva had said on her return from Fiji "the experience completely changed her life; completely changed the direction was taking with her photography". The opportunities now offered to the 2016 winners would hopefully also provide them with some direction for their future careers, she said.

The 2016 competition theme was the Year of Living Sustainably - an international campaign to draw attention to 193 countries, including Australia, agreeing to implement 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). The SDG' aim is to eliminate extreme poverty, gender inequity and tackle climate change by 2030.

Lydia chose SDG 12: 'Responsible Consumption and Production' as the theme for her series of clever and pointed photographs depicting the stark contrast between fashion industry's wealth and glamour and its ugly environmental effects and exploitative work practices.

UNIC Director Christopher Woodthorpe congratulated all the students "for their creativity in articulating their views on sustainability. Their powerful images show us that we can all be engaged in the transition to a more sustainable world".