Raphaela Rosella

Cynthia MaiWa Sitei

Raphaela Rosella is an Australian artist with Italian immigrant and Anglo Celtic convict/coloniser descent who resides in Meanjin QLD. Working at the intersections of socially engaged art and long-form documentary photography, Raphaela’s practice has emerged from her lived experience of being raised within a heavily policed, low socio-economic community where she has seen her sisters, friends, partners, and extended family move through the prison system. Navigating carceral bureaucracies and surveillance, Raphaela has spent over a decade co-creating photo-based projects alongside several friends and family members from her childhood and adolescence (who she identifies in her practice as co-creators). Her artistic practice draws heavily on relational exchanges and a collaborative ethos to resist bureaucratic representations (e.g., case files and criminal records) by presenting everyday stories of women’s connectedness, agency, belonging and kinship. This has resulted in a collective archive of photographic works, moving image works, soundscapes, redacted state-issued documents, criminal indexes, love letters from jail and ephemera. Raphaela now seeks to examine, more closely, the power and authority of state archives that maintain the Prison Industrial Complex and the value of their co-created ‘counter archive’ as a site of resistance.


Cynthia MaiWa Sitei is an artist originally from Kenya, who moved to England in 2010 where she has been living and working for 10 years. After graduating with a BA in Psychology with Criminology in 2017,
she pursued an MA in Documentary Photography at the University of South Wales. Stories played a big impact in her upbringing; they were a form of entertainment during and after dinner and a reliable method of communication in bringing people together and creating spaces where everyone was equal regardless of their age, wealth, and health. Her work integrates photography and text, and explore themes of stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination. Her first project “Wundanyi” was about stigma and stereotypes around rape which explored the need for and importance of rape being a household conversation. In her second year of her MA 2018-2019, she travelled around different rural parts in Kenya researching and gathering photographic evidence for her project. Upon finishing her Masters, she moved to South Korea for a year where she lived and worked through the beginning of the pandemic until October 2020 when she returned to the UK. While in South Korea, she was researching her longitudinal personal project on Albinism.


Firecracker’s judging panel also highly commended the work of the following international artists:

Akosua Viktoria Adu-Sanyah (Germany)
Sumi Anjuman (Bangladesh)
Odette England (British/Australian)
Marisol Mendez (Bolivia)
Marie Smith (UK)