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Portsmouth photography students are the best

Alecsandra Dragoi’s boy in a bearskin was described as ‘the best single shot in this year’s selection’

Three Portsmouth photography students have had their work selected as the best in the country by a leading gallery director.

Lorenzo Fusi, Director of Open Eye Gallery, Liverpool, selected eight of his favourite graduate photographers from nearly 50 universities and colleges across the country, and three out of the eight were students from the University of Portsmouth.

The students, Alecsandra Dragoi, Tyran Hawthorn and George Newing, all graduate today with a degree in photography.

Alecsandra Dragoi’s work was also chosen by the picture editor of the Daily Telegraph to feature in an online gallery showcasing the best work from graduate shows.

An image from Alecsandra Dragoi’s project ‘Ritual’

Her project Ritual documents various aspects of Romanian culture. Her photographs show Romanians ushering in the New Year by wearing brightly coloured costumes or animal furs to ward off evil. They were taken in the city of Botosani in the Moldavia region of Romania.

She said: “Many of the nation’s old traditions can be discovered in the countryside, which is considered to be the heart and soul of Romania where peasant culture remains a strong force and medieval life prevails.”

This isn’t the first time Alecsandra’s work has been recognised; she won first prize in the culture category of the 2013 Sony World Photography Awards Youth Award and first prize in ‘The Big Picture’ competition organised by The Telegraph in 2013.

Lorenzo said: “Alecsandra documents ancient rituals, the existence of which clashes against our vision and understanding of Europe as a technologically advanced society that had lost contact with nature and wildlife.

“In my opinion she is the author of the best single shot in this year’s selection: the boy looking right into the camera wearing a bearskin.”

Tyran Hawthorn’s work: Hesperides

Tyran Hawthorn’s work was also recognised by Lorenzo. Tyran suffers with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy and uses still life art and photography to illustrate his innermost feelings about his condition.

Lorenzo said: “Tyran’s work is claustrophobic and slightly disturbing but has unquestionably a seductive quality to it. It was only after I selected his images that I realised he was operating within the constrictions of ‘limited mobility’.

“He masters light, subject matter and composition in a way that is reminiscent of the vanitas tradition in painting. And yet, he is able to stage in each image a surreal atmosphere that is exquisitely photographic.”

‘Washer’ by George Newing

George Newing was the third student whose work was selected. The 22 year old, who graduates today with a first class honours degree, said: “Studying at Portsmouth has been such a life changing experience. The course has been a great stepping-stone and covers a wide range of photographic practices, which has allowed me to really push myself in finding my own niche and be as creative as possible.”

Lorenzo said: “George’s series ‘Gone’ encompasses a number of ‘activated sculptures’ that seem to live only within the time-lapse of one frame. He captures the idea of the ephemeral in art, of its instability. He also interrogates the role of photography as a means of documentation for the visual arts.”

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