Firecracker is proud to announce that the receipient of the inaugural Firecracker Photographic Grant is British photographer, Jo Metson Scott.
Metson Scott has been awarded the grant for her work-in-progress, The Grey Line, a reflection on war told from the perspectives of US and UK soldiers who have spoken out against the Iraq War.
Metson Scott met Robert, a 19 year old man who went AWOL from his regiment rather than return to Iraq in 2007, whilst on assignment in Indiana, USA. Six months earlier Robert had applied for, and been denied, Conscientious Objective Status, defined as "a firm, fixed, and sincere objection to participation in war in any form or the bearing of arms".
Robert went into hiding with the assistance of an elderly couple. To them, Robert was a hero - having the courage to act on his beliefs at the expense of personal safety. To his family though, he was a disgrace – Robert’s sister eventually informed the FBI of his whereabouts and he was subsequently imprisoned for 7 months. Metson Scott's chance meeting with Robert had a lasting effect on her, and as she researched into the subject she discovered a growing movement of young men and women who opposed the morals of war.
Their voices have been met with varying reactions, from being outcast to imprisoned, shunned to celebrated. The story that began with Robert led to further meetings with other ex military personel across the US including Matthis, an ex- army journalist, Chris, an ex-Guantanamo guard and Stephen, one of the first soldiers that refused to fight.
"I felt that this was an unknown reality that I was keen to shed light on through my photography. The Iraq War has created complex debates on morality, and these soldiers have been trying to make decisions on what is right and wrong without any black and white markers to follow. The Grey Line examines details of these soldiers’ lives through photography and interviews in an attempt to capture the essence of what made different men and women take position.
The images are extracts from my sketchbook, which traces my travels through America and Britain in search of these individuals, through the photographs, interviews, notes and images that I collected; it is a work in progress that is intended for publication in 2013 – the tenth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq."
Jo Metson Scott is a London-based portrait and documentary photographer whose work highlights the relationship between people and their communities. Jo grew up in Nottingham and received a first class honours degree from Birmingham Institute of Art and Design. She later worked with Spring and assisted Kayt Jones. Her subjects have taken her around the world, from the Sahrawi refugee camps of Algeria to remotest Scotland via Tanzania, Palestine, Egypt and China.
Metson Scott has been commissioned by The New York Times, The Telegraph, Dazed & Confused and The Independent. She has worked with a number of charities including War on Want and Breast Cancer Aware. She has exhibited in the UK and Europe, including the London College of Fashion, Arles Photography Festival and 54th Venice Biennale. Later this year, her work will be included in the Photographers’ Gallery exhibition, ‘Olympic Games’.
Due the high quality of submissions received, the Firecracker Photographic Grant also wishes to acknowledge the work of two additional photographers, who have been Highly Commended and will receive mentoring sessions with our judges.
Abbie Trayler-Smith (British) - The Big O
An intimate and personally motivated visual essay, The Big O is Trayler-Smith's sensitive portrayal of teenage obesity. As a battler of weight herself, Trayler-Smith only now feels able to examine the details of this rising epidemic. Through the stories of two teens, Chelsea and Shannon, Trayler-Smith personifies the people behind the dramatic obesity statistics and challenges the common, often negative, perceptions.
Agata Pietron (Polish) - War Songs
War has shaped their life. They were less than few years old when genocide in Rwanda happened and refugees fled into their homeland: North and South Kivu in Democratic Republic of Congo. What happened in 1994 caused instability in the region, humanitarian crisis and as a result domestic war, which lasted for decade. Now they are teenagers and they recall it as worst memories ever: their relatives killed, tortured, kidnapped and raped; sometimes in front of their eyes. Three years ago they walked barefoot and lived in IDP camps; now they want to be popstars.
War Songs is the tale of these adolescents as they struggle towards adulthood following the Congo wars.
The Firecracker Photographic Award received over 100 international applications and was judged by David Birkitt – Director of DMB Media, Jessica Crombie – Head of film & photography at Save the Children, Shannon Ghannam – Global Pictures Project Manager at Reuters, British Photographer Simon Roberts, Francesca Sears – Director of Panos Profile and Diane Smyth – Deputy Editor of The British Journal of Photography. Jo Metson Scott receives £1000 in funding and £1000 of printing, mounting and framing services from Firecracker's supporter, Genesis Imaging.
Judge Diane Smyth, Deputy Editor of the British Journal of Photography says:
"The standard of entries for Firecracker's inaugural grant was extremely high, which made choosing the winner and the two highly commended photographers very difficult. Agata's work impressed with its fresh subject matter, taking a very different look at Eastern Congo, Rwanda and war, and we were also impressed with its sheer beauty. Shot in classic, superbly composed black-and-white, her images show a confident independence of vision. Abbie's project impressed with its sureness of touch and gentle empathy – taking a subject close to her own heart she has clearly got close to her subjects, allowing her to shoot a sensitive area with honesty and integrity. But Jo was awarded the prize because of the sheer ambition of her work – taking a weighty, controversial subject, she has been brave enough to photograph and present her series in an unusual, individual way, and the gamble has completely paid off. It's a project any photographer could be proud of and as such absolutely embodies Firecracker's central tenet – that while still underrepresented in the industry, women photographers have a valuable contribution to make."
The featured photographer for September 2012 was Jo Metson Scott