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Challenging image scoops Simon Devitt award


Alice O’Brien-Gortner in front of her winning work Extinguished (centre top).

Challenging image scoops Simon Devitt award

Alice O’Brien-Gortner, a third-year Bachelor of Architectural Studies student at the University of Auckland has won the 2014 Simon Devitt Prize for Photography with her entry entitled ‘Extinguished’.

The competition, now in its sixth year, recognises the best photograph by a student of architecture.

The challenging image was picked as the winner from twenty finalists at the opening last night of an exhibition of contestant’s work, on as part of the Festival of Photography.

Simon Devitt, an Auckland-based photographer specialising in architectural images, established the annual award at the School of Architecture and Planning where he teaches the photography of architecture.

Aldous Huxley said ‘There are things known and there are things unknown, and in between are the doors of perception.’ Photographs are literally made of time. The translation of reality into a photograph creates a medium of pure perception says judge Simon Devitt.

“This year’s theme was ‘the in-between’ and I selected ‘Extinguished’ as the winning entry because this is where the image seems to live. There is a highly evocative sense of ‘another' place we get when we experience this photograph. Alice has created an imagined world that perhaps raises more questions than it answers for the viewer. Her photograph leaves us in a challenging and uneasy place, wondering how we arrived," he says.

Twenty year-old Alice, is originally from Seattle but her family relocated to New Zealand over a decade ago. The Waimauku resident, who receives a trophy and a cash prize of $1,000, hopes to begin a Master of Architecture (Professional) degree next year, but says photography is also a ‘major passion’ which she plans to pursue.

The 2014 Simon Devitt Prize for Photography exhibition
28 May-7 June
Foyer, Conference Centre
The University of Auckland
22 Symonds Street


The University of Auckland’s National Institute of Creative Arts and Industries comprises the School of Architecture and Planning, Elam School of Fine Arts, the Centre for Art Studies, the School of Music and the Dance Studies Programme.

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