Clare Hewitt

Wai Hang Siu

Ilayda Akarca

Mario Popham

Sofia Yala

FORMAT23 Portfolio Review Award Artists

FORMAT Reviewers Choice Award 2023

Clare Hewitt

Taking part in the FORMAT Portfolio Reviews helped me to broaden my network, build confidence, and gain constructive feedback from multiple perspectives. I went on to develop professional relationships with curators that I met during the reviews, who I’m now working with to develop my first solo exhibition.

Clare Hewitt is a photographer based in Birmingham. In ‘Everything in the forest is the forest’ she has set up her studio amongst a circle of 12 oak trees at The Birmingham Institute of Forest Research, working with and within nature to explore what we can all gain from the unity, communities and relationships found in the trees.

Clare has created year-long pinhole exposures, oak leaf lumen prints, soil chromatographs, visualised root networks, recorded sound, written to the trees, and documented their instinctive seasonal transformations.

During lockdown, she mirrored the social behaviour of the oaks by nurturing a creative network with individuals living around the forest who were experiencing loneliness or isolation.

Clare is currently collaborating with biomaterials specialists to develop a sustainable photobook designed by Stanley James Press.

This project has been kindly supported by Arts Council England, GRAIN, A-n, STEAMhouse, and the University of Birmingham.

FORMAT Patron Award 2023

Wai Hang Siu

“As a photography artist relocated from Hong Kong to the UK, The FORMAT Portfolio Review allowed me to see the local and international photography scene; the panels from different backgrounds gave me solid advice for my art career and various opportunities to expose more in the field.”

Wai Hang Siu primarily engages with photography. His work makes use of different methods and photographic principles to express Siu’s solicitude for the society and his contemplation on the medium. He is interested in depicting landscape and object for they connect people with collective memories. The subject matters are coupled with his take on the nature and strength of photography, highlighting the encounter between traditional photography and contemporary digital work.

Siu was the recipient of the First Price of Hong Kong Photobook Dummy Award 2021, the Hong Kong Human Rights Art Prize (2018) and the WYNG Masters Award (2014 and 2016). He was also named ifva Emerging Talent in 2016. His works were collected by The New York Public Library(US), M+ Museum(HK) and private collectors around the world, and had exhibited in The United Kingdom, New York, Germany, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and mainland China.

Shutter Hub Portfolio Prize 2023

Ilayda Akarca

“The reviews have been a great opportunity to share my work with industry professionals. They helped me to get into the practice of talking about my work succinctly and with confidence. The feedback I received has been constructive in the development of my work and the future of my practice in general.”

I am an artist from Istanbul, currently based in Bristol. In my practice, I explore notions of home, displacement and sense of self. My work questions the influences of family, culture and politics on identity, with an interest on the relationship between place, memory and who we are.

My on-going project ‘Inleyen Nağmeler’ is an exploration of thoughts and questions on displacement and belonging. Started as a reflection of my experiences as an immigrant, over time, the work formed into a visual journey of meditations on what home ‘was’, what it ’has become’ and everything in between, evoked through both the recurring memories of childhood and the body of my lover.

GRAIN Projects Portfolio Award 2023

Mario Popham

“Looking back almost a year to when I was urged by my peers to book in for the portfolio reviews, I can see how transformative an experience it was for my career and confidence – during a challenging time, I left feeling galvanised and hopeful.”

Mario is a photographic artist, curator and educator based in Manchester (b.1980, Kamakura, Japan). He graduated from the Manchester School of Art in 2007 and has since continued to work on personal projects and commission and is based in his adopted home city of Manchester.

On a planet increasingly shaped by human activity, his personal work is driven by a curiosity about our paradoxical relationship to the non-human environment and how this visually manifests in the post-industrial areas of Northern Britain and abroad.

His work has been exhibited and published in Britain and internationally at, Centre for British Photography, HOME MCR, Signal and in external exhibitions with Open Eye Gallery. He is currently developing long-term projects in both the UK and Italy that explore place in the context of industrial legacy, nature and community and is currently an artist in residence in Wigan Borough with Open Eye Gallery.

The Stills FORMAT Award 2023

Sofia Yala

“Participating in the FORMAT Portfolio Review was essential in this stage of my artistic practice. Especially for the opportunity of getting feedback in person from a globally diverse panel was vital for self-improvement but also provided a platform for valuable connections with other creatives, curators, and opportunities.”

Sofia Yala is a visual artist based in Derby, her art practice is a blend of exploration and expression, anchored in a connection to archival material, and image making, aligned with imaginaries and narratives. Embodying the essence of hybridity, Sofia’s artistic practice is a living entity—a work-in-progress that resists finality. Her approach delves into the past, weaving it with the present, while intentionally reserving space for ongoing reflections that embrace the future. This unceasing evolution remains true to the core of her vision, underscoring an unbreakable link between heritage and modernity. Yala crafts her pieces with attention to detail, manipulating textures and juxtapositions. She reconfigures memories and lived encounters through her process, ushering them into new and transformative forms.

With an academic foundation in African Studies and an MA in Anthropology, Sofia ventured further into the realm of creativity, culminating in her 2021 achievement of an Arts Master’s degree in Film and Photography.

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