OD Photo Prize 2023 | Judges Pick
Selected by Tom Page
Director & Co-founder, Open Doors Gallery
Tamara Eckhardt [b. 1995] lives and works as a portrait and documentary photographer in Berlin. As a child Eckhardt lived in Ireland for two years, which led to her interest in working with subjects that are related to Ireland. From 2017-2021 she studied at the Ostkreuzschule for Photography in Berlin. Her analog photography strives to shed a kind light on her protagonists whom she follows up on for months at a time for each project.
Artist Statement | “St Mary’s Park on King’s Island in Limerick was built in the 1930’s as the city’s first social housing estate. It was established to accommodate families who lived in overcrowded, poor quality housing. Because of its geographic location, bordered by the River Shannon, the estate is almost isolated from the surrounding city – locals and insiders refer to the area as The Island Field. St Mary’s Park is the most socially deprived area in Ireland, it suffers from high levels of unemployment, addiction and social problems. Nevertheless it has a strong community spirit where everyone knows everyone, is fiercely loyal and defensive, and suspicious of outsiders.
Tamara Eckhardt portrays the lives of the young people of St Mary’s Park, continuing her focus on the theme of childhood and growing up. The living conditions in the area are difficult; yet the young people develop coping skills, adapt and find ways to divert themselves.
Eckhardt has revisited the estate over a two year period becoming more familiar with the community. She has spent so much time with the young people that they have come to suspend suspicion and trust in her and her camera.” — Tamara Eckhardt
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