National Photography award success for UWE Bristol's, Angus Fraser

Issue date: 07 January 2015


Angus Fraser, Senior Lecturer – Photography at UWE Bristol has won the Bar Tur Photobook Award 2014 in its inaugural year. The annual award offers an emerging photographer a publishing deal to the value of £20,000 and the opportunity to work with The Photographers' Gallery and Trolley Books over the course of a year to produce their first book in 2015. The winner was recently announced at a special ceremony in The Photographers' Gallery .

His documentary project Santa Muerte, follows members of the Mexican cult of the same name. Meaning Holy Death in Spanish, Santa Muerte is a female folk saint whose origins are thought to be traced back to Aztec rituals mixed with Catholic beliefs and practices. Although denounced by the country's Catholic Church as satanic, the cult has enjoyed an increase in popularity over the last decade especially in crime-ridden communities and among marginalised individuals.

During the past three years Angus Fraser made several visits to Mexico researching, interviewing and documenting Santa Muerte devotees. His images include portraits of believers, spiritual leaders, shrines, private and public altars, paraphernalia, prayers, ceremonies, and street gatherings. His work examines the contrast between Western and Mesoamerican perception and acceptance of death.

Angus Fraser, said, “I am thrilled to have received this award. To be recognised by such an esteemed panel of judges thus resulting in the publication of a book based on the work, is something I have strived for over the last three years it has taken to complete this project on Santa Muerte. I look forward to working with the Photographers Gallery and Trolley Books to create a publication worthy of winning the title.”

Angus was selected from an open submission of hundreds of applicants, all currently studying, or graduated within the last five years from a UK-based BA or MA visual arts courses. He was chosen by a panel of experts: Brett Rogers, Director, The Photographers' Gallery; Amnon Bar-Tur, entrepreneur and philanthropist; David Chandler, writer and curator; Nadav Kander, photographer; Caroline Metcalfe, Photographic Director, Condé Nast Traveller Magazine; Professor Chris Wainwright, Head of Camberwell, Chelsea and Wimbledon Colleges and Hannah Watson, Director, Trolley Books.

Brett Rogers, OBE, Director, The Photographers' Gallery said, “This new award reflects the importance of the photobook as a creative platform for photographers over the past decade. As well as being democratic and accessible, the photobook has also become highly collectable and valuable. Through its various programmes, the Gallery remains committed to exploring the photobook phenomenon. We are delighted that our winner will benefit from working with the well-respected, young publisher, Trolley Books to create their first publication.”

Amnon Bar-Tur said, “I would like to congratulate the winner and four runners-up. I was very impressed with the quality of submissions which presented the judges with a challenging task. I hope the award will provide these artists with the support they need to realise their work and especially look forward to seeing the winning publication.”

Hannah Watson, Director, Trolley Books said, “Santa Muerte features unusual and striking images alongside a strong narrative which the judges agreed would work well in a photobook format. As a publisher I am looking forward to collaborating with the photographer to form what we feel would be a unique and interesting book.”

For further information on the award winners see: Bar Tur Photobook Award 2014

For more information on studying BA(Hons) Photography, please visit the course website.

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