Benenden pupil Saiesha Gupta has won a prestigious national photography prize.
16-year-old Saiesha won the ‘Better Environment’ category of the competition for her photograph ‘Pashmina’, and took home a prize of £150 in vouchers and a trophy at an awards ceremony held at Espacio gallery in London on 26 March. Her image was also displayed in a special exhibition at the gallery between 27 and 30 March.
The photographic competition, the fifth to be organised by the ESRC, gives young people aged between 14 and18 the opportunity to get creative with their cameras and smartphones, and explore the real issues that impact society.
This year the competition asked students to take a photograph exploring what the phrase ‘better lives’ means to them. They were encouraged to think about how health, relationships, education, the economy and the environment all contribute to society and people’s lives.
The judges were overwhelmed by the quality of the entrants, and there were more than 506 images submitted by students from 160 schools in the UK.
Describing her photo, which shows a herds-woman called Jinpa tending to her livestock of pashmina goats in the Himalayas in Ladakh, India, Saeisha says: “With no food or shelter in close proximity the woman leads a tough lifestyle – however, she is happy. She believes that a simple lifestyle away from materialistic ideals within nature is the most suitable environment for her. She spends her days taking care of her livestock, discovering the beautiful valleys of the Himalayas as she finds new land for her goats to graze on. Jinpa believes that she can appreciate the serenity of her environment much better through living a nomadic life.”
Benenden Headmistress Samantha Price said: “We are incredibly proud of Saiesha’s success in this competition. She is a very talented photographer who has worked extremely hard and we are lucky to have a wonderful Art Department here at Benenden who have supported Saiesha’s passion for photography. Competitions such as the ESRC’s are invaluable for encouraging young people to push themselves to ever greater achievements and we hope that Saiesha’s success this year will inspire other young people in future.”
Winners were divided across the five categories of the competition that explored important issues in the social sciences: Better Economy, Better Education, Better Environment, Better Health and Better Relationships. The entrants came from a range of schools and colleges, which will also receive the same prize amount as each winner.
Professor Jennifer Rubin, Executive Chair of ESRC said: “There were some brilliant entries to this year’s ESRC Photo Competition. My congratulations to all of our prize winners, who displayed a breadth of social science research and have helped to show how social science can contribute across a number of areas from the economy to the environment.”