Winner of Museum of Barnstaple photography competition awarded with prize

Karina Whelan won the competition with her image 'Stuck Inside' on this year's theme of 'Home'

Karina Whelan won the competition with her image 'Stuck Inside' on this year's theme of 'Home' - Credit: Karina Whelan

The winner of the Museum of Barnstaple and North Devon's 2021 ‘Documentary Photography Open’ was awarded with £100 prize from councillor Julie Hunt at a presentation on August 19. 

Karina Whelan won the competition with her image 'Stuck Inside' on this year's theme of 'Home'. Entrants were asked to submit images of what home means to them and images of lockdown and the effects of Covid-19 in relation to the theme were particularly encouraged. 

The competition was open to anyone aged 14 and over. Successful applicants featured in an exhibition, held from February to May 2021 in the temporary exhibition gallery, showcasing contemporary photography from across North Devon. A public vote was held and the winner was judged to be the image with the most votes by the end of the exhibition.

Karina Whelan was awarded with the £100 prize by Councillor Julie Hunt

Karina Whelan was awarded with the £100 prize by Councillor Julie Hunt - Credit: NDC

Winner of the competition, Karina Whelan, said: "I am astounded by all of the votes I received and would like to thank all of the people who voted for my photograph “Stuck Inside”. The image depicts a young person shielding at home and who is socially isolated in these difficult times. The model is my brother, Alex, who has Down’s Syndrome. 

“I wanted to highlight in my photograph how isolating it was for him and many other people during the Coronavirus pandemic. He had to shield to keep himself safe, and it was a challenge for him and us as a family, given the length of time and the duration of the lockdown. In normal times he has a love of life and is very social. However, these times were detrimental to him and many people’s health and wellbeing.  I feel that my photograph is symbolic of these difficult times. 


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"Furthermore, you can see in the photograph that he is looking out the window which reflects optimism and a longing for better times to come. This is something that I would like to use to highlight Alex’s isolation from the outside. I believe this is a unique perspective on how the pandemic has affected many people. 

"The prize money I was awarded would go towards a new piece of photography equipment. I would encourage all to enter as this is a wonderful opportunity and platform to demonstrate your creative photography skills. Especially those who have a story to tell." 

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Museum Curator, Alison Mills said: "This annual competition celebrates the tradition of documentary photography in North Devon. We want to give contemporary photographers valuable exposure, enhancing their practice and helping to document this beautiful part of the country. This year's theme of 'Home' was particularly relevant because of the Covid-19 pandemic and how people’s way of life was affected by lockdown." 

Chairman of North Devon Council, councillor Julie Hunt said: "This competition not only brings the talent of local photographers to the attention of museum visitors, but this year it was also a great way of documenting North Devon during lockdown and preserving the images for future generations so they can learn what life was like during the pandemic." 

Admission to the Museum of Barnstaple and North Devon is free and measures are in place to keep visitors safe, including limiting visits to two groups of four people every 15 minutes, a one-way system, hand sanitisers, social distancing and use of the Track and Trace app. 

To ensure visits are evenly spaced throughout the day, visitors can book to visit the museum through Art Tickets, with no booking fees. Visitors can also book tickets by calling 01271 346747. A small number of daily tickets will be kept aside for groups turning up on the day but visitors are strongly advised to pre-book as they may be asked to wait or return at a later time slot. 

Visitors wishing to enjoy Bromley’s tearoom do not have to pre-book and can access the tearoom through the museum’s side door. 

Current museum opening hours are Tuesday – Saturday 10.30am – 4.30pm (last admission at 4pm). Scaffolding is currently in place outside the building, this is just for routine maintenance and does not prevent public access. 

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