A poignant exhibition of photographs by the inaugural winner of the Wales International Young Artist Award has just gone on display at Chapter Arts Centre in Cardiff.

Andrew Morris from Swansea scooped the accolade from the British Council Wales for a body of work created during his time as a student at University of Wales Trinity Saint David, Swansea, where he studied Photography in the Arts.

The pictures feature deserted domestic scenes where nothing at first seems amiss, and it is as if the owner has been called away or has just popped out.

However, when the viewer inspects a little more closely, something jars - wallpaper is peeling or one photo frame remains inexplicably abandoned on an otherwise empty bookshelf.

These homes are, in fact, properties of the deceased which are in the process of being cleared out by relatives - an intimate glimpse into a world that has just been turned upside down by death.

Andrew told me that he was drawn to capture these scenes after working on a project throughout his university years that dealt with presence and absence and what gives objects sentimental value.

An image from the What Is Left Behind exhibition by Andrew Morris in 6x7 medium format.

“I started photographing homes that were in the process of being repossessed and was struck by the items that were left behind, as if somebody had just popped out, and I wanted to develop that idea.

“The project progressed until I was photographing homes that were due to be put up for sale after the owner had passed away and I always had this really strange feeling when I stepped inside.

“I never knew what was behind each door and what it would reveal to me about the person who lived there.

"Some of the rooms seemed as if the owner was just about to appear, with reading glasses left on a window sill, indentations in a chair or beds that appeared freshly made whereas others were completely bare.

“It really made me think about ownership and family and what I would want to hold on to if I was in that situation.”

The sense the viewer gets from the photos is that the rooms are in a state of transition - somewhere between occupied and vacant.

An image from the What Is Left Behind exhibition by Andrew Morris.

The Wales International Young Artist Award was launched in 2013 by the British Council Wales with the aim of both identifying a new pool of young talent across the creative sectors and also nurturing it by offering young artists from Wales, national and international exposure.

As its first winner, Andrew received a £500 prize and the opportunity to exhibit in six continents and over 100 countries. He already has plans to take his work to Cairo through the British Council.

He said: “I’m trying to come to terms with being given the award because it doesn’t seem quite real.

“This is my first solo show and it is fantastic because it opens up my work to a whole new audience and I’ve already had a really interesting dialogue with some of the people who have come to see the exhibition.

Andrew's photographs will be on show in the bar at Chapter until Sunday 18 May 2014.


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