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NSW State Library brings World Press Photo to Sydney for 20th year

Monday 10 August 2020

The State Library of NSW will reopen its eastern galleries this Saturday 15 August in time to host the highly anticipated World Press Photo Exhibition 2020, making it the only Australian venue to showcase the world’s best photojournalism from 2019.  

According to State Librarian John Vallance: “Despite the challenges of Covid-19, we were determined to bring one of our most popular exhibitions to Sydney for the 20th year, with the generous support of Canon Australia and, for the first time, in partnership with the Judith Neilson Institute for Journalism and Ideas.”  

“We have protective measures in place in all of our galleries, including sanitising stations and a one-way traffic system, to ensure the health and safety of everyone who comes through our doors,” says Dr Vallance.   

Conflict, the ongoing effects of climate change and Australia’s recent catastrophic bushfires can be seen among more than 150 powerful and evocative images and photo series captured by 44 professional photographers from 24 countries.  

The coveted Photo of the Year shows a young man, illuminated by mobile phones, reciting protest poetry while demonstrators chant slogans calling for civilian rule, during a blackout in Khartoum, Sudan. This photo, ‘Straight Voice’, was captured by Yasuyoshi Chiba on 19 June 2019 just days after authorities sought to defuse protests by imposing blackouts and shutting down the internet.  

This year’s contest honours three Australian photographers, and unsurprisingly the summer bushfires were the subject for two of them. Matthew Abbott was awarded second prize in the Spot News (Stories) category for his portfolio which included his iconic image of a kangaroo attempting to escape the flames, silhouetted against the ruins of a burning house near Lake Conjola in NSW.   

Sean Davey’s picture of children playing under eerie orange skies at a bushfire evacuation centre in Bega was awarded second prize in the Contemporary Issues (Singles) category.  Adam Ferguson won first prize (Portraits) for his portrayal of displaced people from camps in northern Iraq.  

The World Press Photo Exhibition 2020 is free at the State Library of NSW, Macquarie St Sydney, from 15 August to 18 October 2020. Please read the special conditions of entry before visiting the State Library.

See full media release (PDF 270 KB)