Photographers take a view on hot political issues

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The Independent Online

Some of the hottest political issues of the day feature prominently in this year's Jerwood Photography Awards, albeit beautifully transposed from the debating arena.

Hunting, public order, immigration and the environment are all featured in a diverse range of photographs from the five winners selected from 6,000 entries by recent visual art graduates.

"When we look at these photographs, we learn more about the complexity of the society in which we live," said the writer and curator Val Williams.

Nina Mangalanayagam's Snotackt narrates the life of her Sri Lankan émigré father in Sweden, against a backdrop of bleached and frozen landscapes.

The judges praised the 25-year-old for avoiding the visual clichés which represented migrants as urbanised ethnic groups living segregated lives.

Meanwhile, Oliver Parker, 25, chose to portray foxhounds in a studio, removed from the political debate that surrounds them.

Examining another often controversial world, 32-year-old Sarah Pickering's colour series, Public Order, documents the ambiguous landscape of the Metropolitan Police Public Order Training Centre.

"Pickering's conceptual photo-reportage records neither the reality nor the fantasy but hovers somewhere in between," said the judges.

By contrast, Daniel Gustav Cramer, 30, has documented woodlands over several continents. He has journeyed into forestland at Big Sur in California, the Forest of Dean in the UK, Busaco and Sintra, in Portugal, and the Black Forest in Germany.

The youngest winner, Luke Stephenson, 22, opted for a lighter note in his colour series Spectacle Wearing Folk. Redolent of old-fashioned portraits, he created comedic retro fantasies through Sixties and Seventies styling.

The judges said: "Assuming personae dictated by the spectacles, this beguiling cast of characters, posing with mock gravity, challenge the viewer to explore the notion of persona, identity and disguise."

The images go on display at the Jerwood Space, Bankside, London, from tomorrow until 11 December before touring the UK from 10 February. They will also be showcased in Portfolio Magazine - which organises the awards with sponsorship help from the Jerwood Charity. The winners receive an award of £2,000.

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