We are delighted to present the Edinburgh Future Institute’s first Student Photography Competition.

This competition asked University of Edinburgh Students to respond creatively to the theme of this year’s Edinburgh Futures Conversation – The Future of Climate Justice and the challenge: What does climate justice look like to you?

The competition had five judges who viewed the photographs anonymously and made their selections. One of the judges, Patricia Erskine, Head of Stakeholder Relations for the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, said the following about the experience on behalf of the judges:

‘We received many beautiful and intriguing photographs. The photographers came from all around the world and that was reflected in the mix of entries.

Although it is a competition and we had to select winners, I’m so pleased that we all have a chance to spend time with the entries in this beautiful immersive exhibition. As a body, the images are so thought-provoking, inspiring and cover an amazing range of responses in their depictions of loss and hope, damage and repair, collective and individual action.’

The winner of the competition was Antonia Wilford for Capitalist Confinement. The two runners up were Ash Tomkins for Mushroom. Athabasca. Highway to… and Nicolas Ruiz for Frailejón y nevados.

We hope this collection of images will stimulate further conversation and action following on from the Edinburgh Futures Conversations and will chime with important work taking place at the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27).

We will continue to run EFI Student Photography Competitions linked, in the first instance, to Edinburgh Futures Conversation events. The call for the next competition will open in Spring 2023.

Judges of this competition included:

Colin Cavers, Lecturer – Photography, ECA

Patricia Erskine, Head of Stakeholder Relations for the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences and Director of Culture and Community, EFI

David Farrier, Personal Chair of Literature and the Environment, English Literature

Moh Mandhyan, Student, ECA

Joan Quast, Material Hub Team Lead, ECA

Competition Image (above) credit: Gintare Kulyte

 

Competition entries

 

Capitalist Confinement

competition winner

“These photographs depict how people living in industrialised, developed countries are so wrapped up in the social and economic structures of a capitalist society, driven by the satisfaction of personal needs and maximising economic gain, at the cost of the environment. I stripped away the identity of the subject to represent, what seems to me, like the loss of basic human values such as compassion, selflessness, and respect towards our environment but also, to raise awareness that this is not aimed at any one person – we all have a part to play, and collective action is needed. I want these photographs to evoke conversations about the types of sustainable changes that can be made, from the lifestyles of individual consumers to the ways in which industries function, to maintain the stability of our earth for future generations and achieve climate justice.”

Antonia Wilford

“I am three quarters German, one quarter English and have lived in London my whole life. I am really interested in sustainable development and Germany is one of the most sustainable countries in the world, compared to the UK, which still has a long way to go in addressing the topic of climate justice. I think progress will be limited until the values and attitudes of people change; hopefully my photographs can evoke a conversation about this.”

 

Frailejón y Nevados

1st runner up

“The three photos are of a series about mountain glaciers in the Andes and their brother ecosystem: the páramo. The frailejón is the endemic plant of the páramos, and is the guardian of life and water. The pictures portray hope, and at the same time, they are a sorrowful memory of a possible no-future.”

Nicolas Ruiz

“Colombian, mountain walker, and páramo listener.”

 

Mushroom. Athabasca. Highway to…

2nd runner-up

“Each image identifies different aspects of living in climate justice through nature, taken on various Hiking trails.

Mushroom is a close-up textural image of a mushroom cloud as a result of the 2022 forest fires. There’s an eerie beauty to their natural pools of light and texture.

Athabasca, the glacier loses depth at a rate of 5m a year since 1900 it has receded over 1.5 km and lost over half of its volume. Full of cracks and chopped ice, what lies beyond this image is an ice field, once a vast landscape is rapidly receding.

Highway to… , shows a highway emerging through trees, cutting through the landscape. I find this picture metaphorical for the slicing through of natural parks for human access, the concrete highway is so small in comparison, re-centering our perceptions of humanity, we must realise that nature is far bigger than us and far more important. We as a society have to question what are we driving to and what does it cost to get there?”

Ash Tomkins

“Bermuda-born and Edinburgh-based artist, and photographer.”

 

Family Of the Mongolian Steppe

“While doing a graduate nature conservation field course in Mongolia in 2019, I visited a nomadic family, sat with them in their gers, and I and my classmates interviewed them about how the steppe was changing. They did not know the term “climate change” but they knew that the world, the climate, the steppe were changing, threatening their livestock and leading their youth to give up the nomadic way of life. Most parents interviewed (3 families by myself) were saddened but happy for their children to leave and live different lives that would be less difficult. Mongolia is warming 3x faster than the rest of the world while also experiencing desertification from overgrazing.”

Rachel Cranmer

“I’m a science communicator from the U.S. currently studying in the Edinburgh Futures Institute’s Narrative Futures program with a focus on climate futures. What are our possible futures under the climate crisis and what needs to be done to deliver us into the best possible future?”

 

Together

“With these old hands holding each other, I wanted to share this idea that we have to take care of our old planet all together and this starts by taking care of the other one. Next care at an individual scale but also on a diplomatic scale. Global issue, we can only do it all together.”

Marie-Liesse de Lass

“I am a French student in Environmental Geosciences and I am passionate about portrait photography. Last year, I did Edinburgh-Glasgow by bike for COP26 and took one picture in the streets of Glasgow. I thought it could be a nice picture to show that we need pressure from below to ask for climate justice.”

 

33 Million

“This series depicts the hardships, exhaustion and struggles faced by the 33 million flood affectees in Pakistan. Their struggles, circumstances and challenges urged me to do my part to get their unparalleled stories heard. The way I experienced the village when I visited it isn’t the same as on the news. There are many spaces in between, in the shadows of these tragedies, that demand more depth and need to be explored. I believe my artwork is a narrative, a form of storytelling that reveals the truth as it has been told to me by these individuals. They depict the extent of climate change and its imaginable impact on communities within Pakistan.”

Shiza Saqib

“I currently study in Edinburgh, however, I’m originally from Pakistan. When not at the art studio, you can find me running, hiking or painting. I’m interested in the interplay between culture and society. Fundamentally, culture is the essence of a community, manifesting itself in the many ways we tell our stories, celebrate, remember the past, and envision the future. The recent catastrophic floods in Pakistan prompted me to contemplate my own heritage and culture, as I embarked on a journey to connect with the flood affectees.”

 

Fox Comes Out of the Forest

“This is the picture I took when I was walking in my living area. The fox was coming out and trying to find something from the litter bin to eat. In this winter, is the environment changing a lot to push wildlife to leave the forest to seek food where humans live?”

Xinlu Cao

“Recently, thinking about the relationship between nature and human beings, I am making some artwork that explores this context. I also care about climate change and the consequences to environment and living creatures.”

 

Don’t Cry Over Spoilt Film

“The evanescent landing of a butterfly within the foliage, outside the Art Institute of Chicago. Captured on the last frame of film, leaving the beauty of the original image juxtaposed by the tear to the right-hand side. This work illustrates the irreversible damage being done to our planet and how climate change acts to ruin the natural beauty of the earth. Despite the subtle appearance, this photograph acts as a visual reminder that, although the world doesn’t always acknowledge the direct impacts of their actions, they hold enough weight to completely ruin the earth’s natural beauty.”

Lucy-Jane Allen

“I am a fourth year painting student at Edinburgh college of art and I have recently fallen back in love with film photography. My work has been influenced by the beauty and moments captured in the every day.”

 

Travel: The Contemporary Dilemma

“Flying is a contested subject nowadays. It’s detrimental to the planet but some argue that it gives us experience, opens our eyes to different ways of living, boost happiness and much more. Who will win the argument? Will we continue to fly even though the planet is begging us not to?”

Maëlle Tholome

“I am French but also have a Swiss passport after having lived there most of my life. I have always been passionate about photography and this passion was intensified while living in Switzerland where I couldn’t help but be grateful for my jaw dropping surroundings. Aside from photography I also love any other type of art (drawing, painting, arts and crafts, music etc.)!”

 

Stop Climate Crime

“Peaceful protest in Glasgow during COP26. The protesters got cornered for over two hours by the police not allowed to leave.”

Lili Grosserova

“I am from the Czech Republic living in the UK for five years. I am a curious explorer, passionate about reading and learning new skills. My short memoir story about depression got published in an online magazine aAh! and two of my poems in printed Mancunian literary magazine BRAG. I am a creator of the ‘Dear Politicians’ ecopoetry project focusing on connecting arts with environmental science in order to fight climate injustice. I am currently working on an ecopoetry anthology and a creative environmental magazine.”

 

Equilibrium 1. Equilibrium 2. Equilibrium 3.

“There is great uncertainty regarding the future of nature and wildlife. Personally, climate justice represents a state in which we can coexist with nature. In this state, the environment can return to its natural flow, butterflies and birds can roam freely and the moon can be seen at night. These pictures represent equilibrium in motion, a state where we can observe the nature around us and feel eternally grateful.”

Sofia Ramirez Vergar

Colombian, with an inherited interest in photography. My father is passionate about taking pictures and recording videos and hence, I grew up surrounded by cameras, learning to love them just as much somewhere along the way.

 

By By Bernardo

“In early 2022, I had the privilege to do a sea kayaking expedition in Patagonia, Chile. Our group of around 15 kayaked 2 weeks to the Southern Ice Field and Bernardo glacier. The glacier had retreated miles since our guide had visited last in 2017. I took this photo of my friend standing where he would not have been able to.”

Rachel Cranmer

“I’m a science communicator from the U.S. currently studying in the Edinburgh Futures Institute’s Narrative Futures program with a focus on climate futures. What are our possible futures under the climate crisis and what needs to be done to deliver us into the best possible future?”

 

Birds 1. Birds 2.

“Birds 1. I made many little black bird sculptures representing wild animals and tried to create a livable space for them in the areas of human activity. But rubbish and cigarette butts are all around. Birds in potato chip bags represent commodification, consumption and harm to natural resources and animals. The puddle filled with rotting leaves and garbage is like a small river.

Birds 2. This is an ironic picture. In the distance is an advertisement for the protection of the forest, while a few meters away is litter by people. “Birds” witnessed all this among them, as the aborigines of the forest are at a loss for the future.”

Xinlu Cao

“Recently, thinking about the relationship between nature and human beings, I am making some artwork that explores this context. I also care about climate change and the consequences to environment and living creatures.”

 

Shells in the Sea

“A view on Ardrossan, Scotland and the remnants of the early/mid 20th century Shell oil refinery, expected to be swallowed by rising sea levels. Wind turbines spin in the distance.”

Rachel Cranmer

“I’m a science communicator from the U.S. currently studying in the Edinburgh Futures Institute’s Narrative Futures program with a focus on climate futures. What are our possible futures under the climate crisis and what needs to be done to deliver us into the best possible future?”

 

Pressure From Below – COP26

“This is what we need for climate justice: pressure from below, from each and everyone of us. Speak up!
This picture has been taken in the streets of Glasgow while I was demonstrating for COP26, after doing Edinburgh-Glasgow by bike.”

Marie-Liesse de Lass

“I am a French student in Environmental Geosciences and I am passionate about portrait photography. Last year, I did Edinburgh-Glasgow by bike for COP26 and took one picture in the streets of Glasgow. I thought it could be a nice picture to show that we need pressure from below to ask for climate justice.”

 

Overgrown

“Taken on an island in Brazil. It is a photo of a telephone wire in a rainforest showing how in the future, domestic areas may be overtaken by nature.”

Alex Porter

“I’m English, I love music, art, and nature, especially fungi.”

 

Skyline

“The photo was taken in Rio de Janeiro and represents the effect overpopulation can have on the climate and how vast areas of forest must be removed for housing.”

Alex Porter

“I’m English, I love music, art, and nature, especially fungi.”

Breathe In and Out

“Contemplations by the sea: the future of our climate”

Imogen Lee Allen

“I’m a Scottish student in my final year of the MA Fine Art course. Within my artistic practice I often allude to the increasingly difficult situation we are faced with in relation to the climate crisis. I have also used artworks to project wider socio-political issues within our society.”

 

Nature In The Spotlight: ‘Look at that beauty’ says the sun

“In a dark forest, there suddenly appear glimpses of light. Illuminating what was once dark to the naked eye: the wonders of nature. Suddenly, the leaves glow a deep shade of red and the trees caress the wind. Every detail can be seen. Sometimes, all we need is a glimmer of light to help us understand what is worth saving.”

Maëlle Tholome

“I am French but also have a Swiss passport after having lived there most of my life. I have always been passionate about photography and this passion was intensified while living in Switzerland where I couldn’t help but be grateful for my jaw dropping surroundings. Aside from photography I also love any other type of art (drawing, painting, arts and crafts, music etc.)!”

 

Self Reflection

“I wanted to show that climate justice can also be done on an individual scale. The idea of using a mirror to write climate justice is to show the hand writing it: a strong hand having the symbolic form of the hand asking for justice.”

Marie-Liesse de Lass

“I am a French student in Environmental Geosciences and I am passionate about portrait photography. Last year, I did Edinburgh-Glasgow by bike for COP26 and took one picture in the streets of Glasgow. I thought it could be a nice picture to show that we need pressure from below to ask for climate justice.”

Glencorse Reservoir

“This is a photo of Glencorse Reservoir on a frosty November day taken from behind the trees that line the body of water. The winter day was magnificent as you can see by the astonishingly blue skies perfectly reflected in the stillness of the reservoir. I have incredibly fond memories attached to this hike as well as the Pentland Hills generally, being such a close source of nature to a student at Edinburgh University. To me climate justice is embodied by this photo not only through the way it reflects the abundant beauty of nature at stake, but also through its duality of the two landscapes with one being the reflection, and how this points out the two options we have: to fight climate change and preserve nature or allow it to be destroyed by climate change.”

Georgia Bennett

“I am a Spanish and English Literature student from London and I am passionate about nature, hillwalking and photography amongst other interests. I love visiting the Pentland Hills, of which the reservoir pictured in my entry is a feature of. I find it to be a great place to escape the business of university life and I really appreciate the green Scottish landscape having returned from the arid Catalan landscape after a year abroad in Barcelona. I am deeply invested in the future of the climate, how climate justice will prevail and Edinburgh University’s part in this.”

 

We’re All In the Same Boat

“We have only one home. We are responsible for all creatures, even the ones we don’t face every day. When climate change is considered, it is like being in the same park.”

Mehmet Ali Temur

“I’m a geoscientist trying to find meanings from non-alive structures just as photographers do with alive ones. I used to be an amateur photographer.”

 

A Cry For Help: ‘heal me’ screams nature through its every pore

“Hiking in the wonders of nature and stumbling upon a heart shaped rock. How can the planet be any clearer? It needs help. It needs the love we haven’t been giving it recently. This is just an example of the many ways nature has tried to communicate and remind us that it has a heart too. Let this picture be a reminder of the many gifts nature has offered us that we haven’t given a thank you note to.”

Maëlle Tholome

“I am French but also have a Swiss passport after having lived there most of my life. I have always been passionate about photography and this passion was intensified while living in Switzerland where I couldn’t help but be grateful for my jaw dropping surroundings. Aside from photography I also love any other type of art (drawing, painting, arts and crafts, music etc.)!”

 

Back to the Playground

“Time will change, climate will change, but the playground will never change.”

Michael Lan

“I’m Michael Lan from China. I love sociology and photography and dream to be both a sociologist and a photographer one day.”

 

A Blue Rainy Day

“It’s a blue rainy day.
It’s been raining in Edinburgh for a week.
It’s going to rain for many weeks.
It’s a weird year with weird weathers.
It’s happening everywhere.”

Joan Wang

“I’m Joan Wang, now a PG student studying Modern and Contemporary Art. I learned how to use a camera since I graduated from high school, and then I turned to film photographing when I was in the college.”

 

Into the Wild

“A quick snap I took without thinking while out on a walk through the nature paths of Edinburgh which has ended up being one of my favourite shots I’ve ever taken.”

Callum Leask

“I’m a Shetland-born photographer with a love for all forms of photography, especially analog, spending a lot of my time developing at home. I also have a love for art and music, alongside tech and computing.”

 

Looking Back

“From my first attempt at nighttime analog photography, taken at a small lake in Edinburgh.”

Callum Leask

“I’m a Shetland-born photographer with a love for all forms of photography, especially analog, spending a lot of my time developing at home. I also have a love for art and music, alongside tech and computing.”

 

Lichen

“This is an edited photo highlighting lichen, the organism that only grows in areas with clean air and take up approximately 14 billion tons of carbon dioxide a year. A true lifesaver for the future of the climate.”

Alex Porter

“I’m English, I love music, art, and nature, especially fungi.”

 

Their Ignorance Is Bliss

“I think that what you create is informed through what you see around you. In my recent art project I was focusing on the idea of waste and rubbish in the city, linking to the rubbish strikes and also that fact that I have come from the countryside to live in a city (Edinburgh) and rubbish was one of the first things I noticed.”

Molly Jones

I’m British, art is my biggest interest. I also love walking outside every morning and I guess that’s why I love taking photos of what I see. Before moving to Edinburgh I was lucky to live in such beautiful countryside where the walks were amazing, and that kind of fueled my fascination for capturing scenery and nature.”