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Chris Wainwright

Professor Chris Wainwright was a founding member of the BarTur Photo Award in 2011, when he was Pro-Vice Chancellor at University of the Arts London. This year there will be a $750 award named in his memory. The Chris Wainwright Prize for Climate Change will be awarded to one of this years climate change winners, and they will receive this cash prize to invest in developing the project or beginning a new project around fostering awareness of climate change.

Chris, who died in 2017, was Pro Vice-Chancellor, and Head of Camberwell, Chelsea and Wimbledon Colleges of Arts at University of the Arts London. Alongside his academic role for UAL, Chris was a member of Tate Britain Council; Chair of Space Studios, London, UK; Board of Directors of the Today Art Museum, Beijing, UK; President of the European League of Institutes of the Arts (ELIA); Chair of the Board of Trustees of Cape Farewell and latterly Dis/Placement – Uncertain Journeys (The Nansen Initiative). Throughout Chris’ illustrious academic career he determinedly continued with his practice as an artist.


The Chris Wainwright Prize for Climate Change is dedicated to Chris’ artistic practice that encompassed photography, performance and installation to address pressing issues of climate change. His work took him to distant lands and extreme Arctic destinations where he photographed urban and depopulated spaces and specifically the way light is deployed as a form of illumination, communication, invasion and pollution, often from on board ships. 


In 2008 Chris made his first expedition to the High Arctic with Cape Farewell producing his iconic Red Ice series. In 2010 together with David Buckland, Director of Cape Farewell. Chris co-curated the major international touring exhibition U-n-f-o-l-d – A cultural response to climate change that profiled the work of 25 internationally renowned artists. The exhibition toured to Beijing; Liverpool, UK; New York, Chicago; Falmouth, UK; Newcastle, UK and Vienna, Austria.

He travelled and exhibited internationally to countries such as China, Taiwan and Japan where he often worked with various institutions on research and artistic practice that explored how these environmental issues could be addressed worldwide.


Chris was passionate about Japan and visited many times in particular to the region of Kamaishi, Northern Japan after the tsunami (2011).  In his artwork ‘We Are All Stars’, when he collaborated with the composer Cathy Milliken, he photographed performances with survivors of the tsunami. Chris noted: 

One of the deeply ingrained memories from a recent visit to Kamaishi, is the recollection of survivors telling me just how clear the sky was the night of the tsunami on the 11 March 2011, with no electricity to pollute the night sky, and how bright the stars were. As they looked up to the sky, they pondered on the fate of those who had been swept away and lost to the sea and wondered had their souls been transformed into the stars above. Many people were ‘taken’ by the tsunami and never found. They remain to this day, in the transitional and restless space between worlds.


Chris Wainwright, First and Last. 

In January 2017 he curated and exhibited in the group show What Has To Be Done at the Today Art Museum, Beijing, China. This art, environment and cross disciplinary project based on an annual voyage on board the sailing ship Lady of Avenel around the Scottish Western Isles with groups of artists, writers, collectors and filmmakers from Europe and China was one of many projects in Chris’ career that combined his passion for art, the environment and sailing.


The BarTur Photo Award welcomes submissions from both students and professionals of single images and/or a series of images (up to five) from those concerned through their photographic practice with issues around our changing climate.

Chris Wainwright's Work

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