Every year, we commission a photographer or lens-based artist to produce a seasonal greeting card to welcome the new year. This commission is an opportunity for artists to submit playful, festive images to our global audience.
These are the Festive Commissions created over the past couple of years.
In this New Year’s Commission, Lauren Kaigg continues her exploration of the substance within the void. What can emerge from the unknown, or between the duplicity of meaning. There is real and imagined in this image, emphasising our instinct to take stock of our starting point, but also the ongoing attempt to disrupt and create something new. The eeriness of the photograph which is characteristic to Kaigg’s visual language, feels an honest representation of this moment, while the artificial light speaks to our collective responsibility and aspirations for the year.
“For this commission I wanted to experiment with the motif of white light, contrasted against a natural environment, to represent a sign of hope. To me this image symbolises the possibilities, anticipation and mystery that comes with a New Year.”
Drawn to identity, memory, community, mental health and how these manifest in the environments we inhabit, Anselm Ebulue, directs our eye to a London scene, alluding to themes of personal growth and embracing uncertainty in the new year.
“After trying large format photography at university, I recently invested in my own 4×5 view camera. I was daunted prior to using them, but in fact found an immediate comfort in working in the slow methodical nature that the format requires. I’ve enjoyed the therapeutic element of following necessary steps to expose an image and I’ve been carried away by the joys of learning and experimenting in new ways.
When Photoworks asked me to make a playful image to see in the new year, I decided using my view camera would make sense. Taken close to where I’m based in South London, the image represents for me, the excitement of discovery, an embracing of mistakes and the joy in the unknown.”
This image has been produced for this year’s Photoworks festive commission, in anticipation of 2023.
The ocean is a place of departure, discovery, and nostalgia for Brazilian born artist Alice Quaresma. The tides become a universal symbol for a constant state of renewal and change – a mysterious open space, always in motion.
Time is a crucial theme of Within Us. By digitally overlapping two images from her personal photo archive Quaresma merges two temporalities into a single image of a horizon. This landscape becomes a source for contemplation and the shoreline encourages viewers to reflect on their past, and what is to come. The work might be a still image, however, we see and hear the constant rhythm of the waves crashing and receding near us. Quaresma envisions a celebratory future without forgetting and learning from the past.
Using her learned heritage as source material, the artist draws on cultural rituals she grew up with through color abstractions. In Candomblé, an Afro-Brazilian religious ritual, Oxum is a woman goddess typically depicted by yellow accents. Color, therefore, nods to the goddess’ symbols for femininity, empowerment and protection which resonate with Quaresma.
Within Us is a self-reflective visual invitation to consider the last year while anticipating the start of 2022 by fully embracing change in our lives.
Zhidong Zang marked the end of the 25th anniversary year of Photoworks.
For the festive commission, Chinese born Zhang created three black and white still lifes to focus on precious objects from his new home in Boston. Memorabilia that spark a comforting and even therapeutic aspect. He chose to have them corresponding with pieces that add sensitivity, like freshly picked flowers or fluttering candles, to the place we were forced to spend so much time in this year – our home. Hence, the images also indicate a longing for freedom, both physically and mentally.
Zhidong Zhang (b.1996) is a visual artist based in Boston. He holds a B.Sc. in Applied Mathematics from Central South University in Changsha, Hunan and an MFA in photography from Massachusetts College of Art and Design in Boston.
To celebrate the beginning of 2020 and the change in seasons, Photoworks commissioned Marguerite Horay to create a new digital work.
Horay is a visual artist born in Brussels in 1981. She obtained a BA in Digital Arts from ENSAV Brussels in 2007 and an MA from the Academy of Fine Arts in Ghent 2011. Her visual narratives are strongly influenced by the Belgian Surrealist movement. Painting is present in her research and she works on her collages with a wide base of reproduced paintings and digital manipulation of vintage photographs to reach different kinds of textures and finishes. The final result is at the crossroads of illustration, photography, and painting.
Marguerite Horay is also part of the art collective Live Wild and is currently based in Brussels, Belgium.