The “Democracy in Action” competition was launched at Newport’s School of Film, Photography and Digital Media by the National Assembly’s Presiding Officer, Rosemary Butler AM, in May.
Its aim has been to get people in Wales to see how individuals, their families and their communities have the ability to effect changes, and to illustrate that by capturing those issues on their camera or smartphone.
Almost 200 images were submitted and the judges’ winner and People’s Choice winner have now been chosen.
Tom Ashmore, a documentary photographer from Cardiff, was chosen by the judges with his image of “Reclaim Cardiff”, showing activists making preparations for a protest.
“The image was shot last year, a day prior to the Occupy Cardiff protest at Cardiff Castle,” said Tom.
“I had been following the movement closely as it spread across the globe and into the UK, and a few days before, through a bit of research and digging around the internet, I discovered that the Occupy movement was heading for Wales and a group of activists had organised a meeting to create banners for the protest in a derelict pub.
“Winning the competition is completely unexpected. I’m thrilled to have had my image scrutinised by such an impressive panel of judges. David Hurn in particular is a photographer whose work I have followed and admired for some time, so it’s pretty humbling to think he’s taken the time to think about an image that I produced.
“I’d like to thank everyone who contributed towards the organisation of the competition, but in particular my thoughts and thanks go to the people I shared that evening with. My preconceived notions of squatters and activists were forever changed after an evening spent with such kindhearted, passionate people.”
The winner of the People’s Choice award is Newport University photography student Robert Guy, from Pengam, with an image titled “Emptiness & Vulnerable”.
“Initially, I left the image name untitled because I wanted people to look at the picture for themselves and make up their own minds,” said Robert.
“However in my opinion I’ve given my picture the title “Emptiness & Vulnerable”. To me this image represents the dark loneliness that most elderly people go through and I wanted to show this in my image.
“I also wanted to show how much the elderly need our help and not just financial help through money or benefits but through human contact and interaction.
“For example the meals on wheels service that is being withdrawn from some counties through budget cuts affect most elderly people not in the way of they don’t get hot meals to their doorstep but they most look forward to the interaction they get from the people delivering the meals.
“To me this is the democracy that I will be standing up for ready for my inevitable old age.”
The competition was run in conjunction with Ffotogallery, Wales’s champions of lens-based media and the University of Newport’s School of Film, Photography and Digital Media.
All entries have been displayed on the www.democracyinactioninwales.org website with the images of the shortlisted finalists displayed in the Senedd for the last month.
“We have had some fantastic images submitted from people across Wales,” said the Assembly’s Presiding Officer, Rosemary Butler AM.
“It’s clear that the competition has been a great success because it has got people thinking about politics and the democratic process.
“One person taking a stance can make a big difference; change can happen when people from a town or village join forces to make improvements; while demonstrations and protest give democracy a voice.
“These images have illustrated this and prove that people across Wales are concerned about issues in their communities. Our message is that the National Assembly can help you affect change over these matters.
“We have the petitions system that individuals can use. The Assembly is regularly out and about visiting community groups, schools and events. These are leavers that can be used to address the issues raised in these images.”
The winners each received a digital SLR camera (donated by the University of Wales Newport’s School of Film, Photography and Digital Media) and a photography course run by Ffotogallery.