Image and Identity

Present 04

The Moray House Trust recently started a series of events targeted at small groups of individuals with common interests. They call it The Third Place, a space to nurture conversation, community and an exchange of ideas. The format includes a short talk by someone knowledgeable in a particular field, followed by a chance to discuss it further over dinner. Dinner is made using local produce, prepared specially for the evening.

On Tuesday March 6th, 2018, I was one of the dinner guests (don’t let the term “guest” fool you, you do pay for dinner) at one titled “Image and Identity”, where the guest of honour and speaker was my good friend Nikhil Ramkarran, a lawyer by profession but an artist at heart. In total, there were 9 dinner guests in attendance, and our backgrounds and professions were considerably diverse.

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GVACE 2017 – Making the cut

2017 - post - making the cut

If the judging goes as per normal (and by normal, I mean, what generally happens in competitions of this sort), here’s a few thoughts on what to expect.

Since the re-invigoration of the Visual Arts competition after too long a hiatus, a few categories were added, including Photography; because of the relative ease of access to photographic capture devices, it was no surprise that the number of entries was large as compared to other traditional Visual Art categories like painting, drawing and sculpture.

In 2012, 52 entries were recorded and in 2014, 86 entries were recorded (as far as I can ascertain from media records available).

To begin with, all qualifying entries are viewed collectively and a pre-judging session is expected to take place, weeding out what may be obvious non-contenders, those that just don’t impress the judges in any way.  After that, the remaining images, most times, between 75-95% of the original entries are then scrutinised and judged individually by each judge in the panel.  It has been known for the process to proceed with the field narrowing in groups, until a Finalist shortlist is reached, from this shortlist, the final winners of the Gold, Silver and Bronze medals are selected.

For me, there are three basic stages of making the cut…  To make it past the pre-judging phase usually means your work is good enough to reach the Exhibition phase, this in itself is an accomplishment, you get to be on Exhibition with your peers as well as being able to put into your list of accomplishments, being part of an Exhibition at the National Art Gallery, Castellani House.  The second stage of making the cut is to be Shortlisted, here you are considered a finalist; the last cut is, of course, being the recipient of one of those medals (and the accompanying cash prize).

Below, you can see a display of the shortlisted and medal winning photos from 2012 and 2014.


Don’t try to find a pattern, there isn’t really one.  The judges change, and the dynamics change from event to event, the one commonality that I can easily point out in these images is their strong compositions.

In 2014 I had mentioned a few times that it was likely that the top three would be different, and it happened, I think it is a distinct possibility that we can see another set of names up there in the top three again this time around.

Choose your images wisely, forget what you “think” the judges may want to see, find one (or three) that you are passionate about, and use it.


Michael C. Lam works in Graphic layout for a living, one of his images gained the Bronze medal in the 2012 GVACE, he was shortlisted for the 2014 GVACE, was an exhibiting artist in the Un | Fixed Homeland curated exhibition at Aljira, New Jersey in 2016, and an exhibiting artist at the 2016 VISIONS Curated Exhibition. Some of his work can be seen on his site The Michael Lam Collection

People of Guyana

The original idea for this challenge was borrowed from an idea that Nikhil Ramkarran had for a long-term project of a similar title, his idea had more depth, but we were hesitant to add anything else to the challenge in fear that we would daunt some of the photographers.

Although a few sections of society are missing from the ensemble, the variety submitted was intriguing and entertaining, as much as it was enlightening and fulfilling in their photographic diversity.

The winning entry:

Brian Gomes’ “Amerindian Girl”

Brian Gomes Amerindian Girl


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