Gasps of excitement and surprise signalled a fitting finale to the Westmead Redevelopment Photography Competition.
Each time special guest presenter Brigette Uren from Health Infrastructure (HI) unveiled a winning image from behind its black shroud, audible “wows” and spontaneous applause filled Westmead Connectivity Centre.
The HI Program Director for Arts in Health described art – and the display of these finalists’ images – as “a love letter from the hospital to the community”.
“The photographers’ collective contribution demonstrates a deep, deep love for humanity,” Brigette said.
“And Multiplex has made an extraordinary contribution to be a catalyst of change to bring that to light.”
These awards mattered. And it was plain to see. Each finalist was unashamedly buoyed by the recognition, and honoured their photo would be hung in Westmead’s new hospital.
And who could blame them? Almost 800 entries had been whittled down to these 26 finalists.
Following the presentation of certificates to recognise their contribution, it was time to unveil the winners as Brigette was asked to first uncover third prize. But instead of one image on a single easel, two stood side by side.
Worlds apart in style, Jasmin Barker Brierley’s Wonder Mamma at Parramatta Pride Picnic and Caylee Ho’s Newborn had provided judges the impossible task of splitting them.
The dead-heat received its own vote of approval from fellow photographers and artists, plus more than 50 guests including representatives from Health Infrastructure, Multiplex, Western Sydney Local Health District, Sydney Children’s Hospital Network, the University of Sydney and Westmead Redevelopment.
Next, Brigette uncovered and announced Seals Galapagos Islands as competition runner-up – another popular decision judging by more applause, back-slapping and handshakes for photographer Heiko Spallek, Dean at The University of Sydney School of Dentistry.
Before first prize was revealed, the People’s Choice award again brought honours for Newborn and its creator Caylee.
The scientist in pathology at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead was overwhelmed to learn her photo of a work colleague’s baby son being held by mum and dad’s loving hands had captured the popular prize in a ballot that attracted more than 2000 casting votes.
Focus again turned to centre stage. And so without further delay, the winner of the Westmead Redevelopment Photography Competition is… Federico Rekowski for his photograph titled Flow of Time.
And with that, the 39-year-old photographer strode forward to accept top prize.
“I’m really humbled to be selected among these amazing finalists,” Federico said.
“Art brings people together, which is why I think this is a brilliant initiative. Having art on hospital walls moves people and creates a better atmosphere.”
His winning black and white piece captures a popular tree landscape in Tuscany, first celebrated as a screen saver for Windows XP.
“This is a famous location so I travelled to Italy to take the image.” Federico said.
“I wanted to reflect that the trees are still standing but time has gone by.
“I took two photos and joined them at the bottom so it looks like it’s moving like a wave. It depicts the movement of time.”
Federico began photography nearly five years ago when his sister gifted him a camera.
“She bought me a fancy professional camera so I felt obliged to learn how to use it. I love it.”
Prizewinners in the Westmead Redevelopment Photography Competition:
1st Flow of Time by Federico Rekowski.
2nd Seals Galapagos Islands by Heiko Spallek.
3rd (tied) Wonder Mamma at Parramatta Pride Picnic by Jaz Barker Brierley & Newborn by Caylee Ho.
People’s Choice Award: Newborn by Caylee Ho.
Master of ceremonies, Westmead Redevelopment Director Carla Edwards said the talent on display across the field of finalists was a joy to experience.
“We feel so very privileged to know these images will be in places where families and patients will see their warmth and feel their emotion in times of joy and sadness,” Carla said.
“I’m a strong believer in how art and health are intertwined and how we can embrace the arts to support better health.”
The photographic competition is part of the Westmead Redevelopment’s Art and Culture Strategy.
This strategy brings together partners from The Children’s Hospital at Westmead, the University of Sydney and Westmead Hospital to ensure art is embedded in the DNA across the Westmead Health Precinct.