THE winning pictures of the My Melbourne photo competition were unveiled at an awards ceremony held on Tuesday night May 10 at the Multicultural Hub.
Nita Wiroonsup, Antoninho Bernardino and Nicole Hew beat some 200 entrants to clinch first prize in the categories Change, Culture and Community respectively.
The competition was organised by the Australian Federation of International Students (AFIS) in partnership with the City of Melbourne and the Multicultural Hub.
The competition’s project coordinator Tarun Kalra said the competition was held especially for the international student community here in Melbourne as an opportunity for them to share their perceptions and experiences of Melbourne through photography.
Students were invited to submit an original photograph in any of the three categories – Change, Culture, or Community – together with a short story about their pictures.
The competition attracted some 200 entrants, which began last December and ended April 27.
Prizes in the form of cash and gift vouchers were sponsored by Centre for Adult Education (CAE), Michaels Cameras (Elizabeth and Lonsdale Streets), and Allawah Travels. The judges were Wesa Chau, honorary president of AFIS, Alwyn Hanson from Michaels Camera, and Councillor Ken Ong from the City of Melbourne.
Nita Wiroonsup, 19, is from Thailand and studies aerospace engineering at RMIT. She has been living in Melbourne for about two and a half years. Her picture, taken at Flinders Street Station, showed a creative juxtaposition between old and new Melbourne.
“Federation Square has always been my favourite place in Melbourne,” she said.
“So I thought if I’m going to submit something, it had to be the place I like.”
She was on her way to Federation Square and Flinders Street Station, when she saw old photographs and postcards being sold, and thought about comparing the old with the modern.
“One of the things I love about Melbourne nowadays is the balance between old architecture, fashion and display of the modern one. Even though everything grows quickly, Melbourne manages to keep the balance of its culture,” she said.
An introspective picture capturing a Bangladeshi tourist on the Puffing Billy snapping a picture of other tourists helped Antoninho Bernardino, clinch first prize in the Culture category. From East Timor, the 25-year-old is a first-year media and communications student at RMIT.
“I was with some friends, doing a tour, and I saw a guy and it was pretty unique, and so it came to this moment,” he said.
When Antoninho thought about culture and the theme of “My Melbourne”, multiculturalism came to mind.
“When you see this photo, some of you may assume this photo was taken somewhere else in the Middle East… This is the uniqueness of Australia, Melbourne… and this photo represents one out of hundreds of samples of multiculturalism in Melbourne,” he said.
“People freely practice their culture without any pressure. And with my Timorese background where conflict and lack of resources limit my way to explore profoundly other people’s history and culture, sometimes I tell myself, buddy you’re lucky to be here, because you’ll learn various things beyond your course.”
Science student from Malaysia, Nicole Hew’s winning entry was a picture of the close-knitted dance community.
Taken at the Botanical Gardens, the picture was an expression of how she has experienced community here in Melbourne, she said.
“I thought, why don’t I give something from my experience and lifestyle, which is dance and photography. So I submitted this photo,” she said.
“As an international student being in a foreign land with unfamiliar faces, I decided to join Flare Dance Ensemble. From then on, I have gained so many friends and have grown so much as a dancer and a photographer. Ultimately they’re my family and this has become my home of self-expression,” she said.
“This picture was themed ‘Alice in Wonderland’ in conjunction with the contemporary dance piece that was taken last year for Flare’s tenth production in the University of Melbourne… A community generically means a group of people living together in a local area, but as a dancer I believe and have learnt that the real definition of a community is people who share a common passion and willing to work together to grow together.”
The event’s guest of honour, Parliamentary Secretary for Education Inga Peulich, said the entries submitted were “unique, touching, depicting ordinary and amazing pictures of Melbourne”.
“They have captured some public icons very well, and moments, as well as private reflections,” she said.
The winning photos are on display at the Multicultural Hub, 506 Elizabeth St, Melbourne.