Painting with light a winner for photography student

A La Trobe University Master of Visual Arts student has been awarded an Honourable Mention in one of the largest art competitions in the world.

Dida Sundet's 'A Tail of Tranformation' (2011)Dida Sundet’s work A Tail of Transformation was one of 8000 pieces from 90 countries to be considered for the International Photography Awards.

‘The piece is based on a Norwegian myth about a figure called Hulder,’ says Ms Sundet. ‘She is like a mythical siren or cursed lady. The piece reflects on how the Hulder would lure men into the forest for sexual encounters, rewarding those who satisfied her, and often killing those who failed.

‘I’m drawn to themes of horror and humour in my work. A lot of people are interested in horror, and they take it very seriously. I don’t. I’m more interested in the contradictions and paradoxes that blending horror and humour create.’

Ms Sundet used a process known as light painting to create her entry.

‘Light painting is often misunderstood because of its name because it doesn’t have anything to do with traditional painting. My brush is actually light, and the canvas is the landscape. I use a camera with long exposure and I always work at night,’ she says.

Ms Sundet shot the piece at the popular tourist attraction Hanging Rock, in the Macedon Ranges because of its ethereal feel.

But more than that, Ms Sundet, who is a Norwegian expat, wanted to look at ideas about cultural displacement and notions of identity.

‘My work creates worlds perched between a personal Norwegian interior and a broader Australian exterior as it actively displaces mainly Norwegian myths and fairytales in an Australian landscape.

‘When I display the work, I hope to displace the audience. Scandinavians will instantly recognise the myth, but not the landscape. And Australians will recognise the landscape but not the story that is taking place.

‘This process seeks to explore what remains, what survives, what is lost, what is created and what translates, if anything, when the cultural background, fantasies and realities of one individual caught between two cultures attempt to merge and reform an idea of home.’

Head of Photography at La Trobe, Julie Millowick, Ms Sundet’s principle masters supervisor, says ‘Dida is a lovely young woman with a lot of talent.’

‘Many don’t enter the International Photography Awards because of its reputation for fierce competition and huge number of entries. They are intimidated by it. But Dida’s work is very strong. We are very fortunate to have her as a postgraduate student.’

Ms Sundet is currently working on a series of images of which A Tail of Transformation will feature. She will be exhibiting A Tail of Transformation at this year’s ScanArt exhibition in Melbourne in September-October. ScanArt is a juried exhibition that showcases Scandinavian art and design. The official exhibition opening is Friday 30 September at the 1000 Pound Bend gallery in the CBD.




About IPA 

The International Photography Awards is a sister-effort of the Lucie Foundation, where the top three winners are announced at the annual Lucie Awards ceremony. The awards event will be held at the Lincoln Centre in New York on October 24 2011, before returning to Los Angeles in 2012 in celebration of the 10-year anniversary. Over 8,000 submissions from 90 countries were recieved for the 2011 International Photography Awards with over 70 jurors, the largest to date. The Foundation’s mission is to honour master photographers, discover new and emerging talent, and promote the appreciation of photography. IPA is dedicated to recognising contemporary photographers’ accomplishments in this specialised and highly visible competition. Visit for more details


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