Fine Art Photography Daily

The CENTER Awards: Excellence in Multimedia Award 2nd Place Winner: Catherine Hyland


©Catherine Hyland, The Traces Left Behind I

Congratulations to Catherine Hyland, for her Second Place win in CENTER’S Excellence in Multimedia Award for her project, The Traces Left Behind. The Excellence in Multimedia Award recognizes outstanding photo-media artists and storytellers working in a variety of media processes and subject matter. The award supports a project that utilizes photography, video, installation, or other elements that expand on traditional methods of displaying and experiencing photography. Winners receive an opportunity to be part of the Winners Exhibition at El Museo Cultural de Santa Fe, complimentary participation in Review Santa Fe, and an Online exhibition at

Juror Carrie Levy – Creative Director, The New York Times shares her insights:

As technology evolves so does the definition of multimedia art. However, it’s not the tools that make lasting art, it is how the artist uses these tools to express experiences and ideas. Reviewing the work for the CENTER Multimedia Award has been both creatively challenging and enlightening. Today people are not only being creative with media processes, they are reinventing new ways to share and tell facts and stories. The work that caught my attention are artists who are pushing multimedia forward in unexpected and imaginative ways, and at the same time touching pressing issues that both define and divide us.

Catherine Hyland’s series Traces Left Behind also speaks about heritage and migration. In her series, Hyland documents how traditions and rituals protect a community of approximately 600 defectors from North Korea now living in South London. Through photograph and video documentation, her work concentrates on how ceremonies have the power to unite people as they transition to a new life. Hyland built a set for traditional performances and interviewed a group of women documenting their new life New Malden, London. Her work is simple, elegant, and emotional. It forces the viewer to see the beauty and power of formal rituals and find emotional protection that comes from community and a song.


©Catherine Hyland, The Traces Left Behind II

Carrie Levy started her career as a photographer and photo editor. Today she is a Creative Director who concentrates on experiences and storytelling with emerging technology tools. Carrie has worked as a creative lead at Airbnb, Instagram, and Apple. She has worked at various prestigious publications including Wired, GQ, Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal and more.


©Catherine Hyland, The Traces Left Behind III

The Traces Left Behind

Rituals and gestures bond us as humans. These small traces of our identity connect us to tradition, family and heritage. They enrich our lives and provide comfort. From these small moments comes profound understanding.

New Malden, a suburb of South London has the biggest community of North Koreans outside of the Korean Peninsula. Around 600 defectors have settled here to build a new life, free from the regime. Defectors live complicated lives, traversing the gulf between then and now. People defect for political, ideological, religious and economic reasons. The brutality of the regime is impossible to imagine, starvation, propaganda and political pressure and punishments are just some of the extreme problems they face daily. Even after you defect, the psychological and cultural adjustment can be hard; due to the extreme conditions people are used to.

The West’s perception often holds North Korea as a hermetic state with which any contact is untenable. This is not entirely accurate. It is clear there is more mobility and autonomy in North Korea than the general public is aware of. We are used to seeing images of North Korea’s Mass Games. Building up this idea of obedience and conforming. But there are many glitches in this synchronized operation and this is what we are looking at in New Malden. Each of our subjects is one of these glitches.

The project explores how rituals connect us in times of change and displacement. The disparity between the media and reality is vast and we hoped this work could be a platform for these women to share their stories on their own terms. We wanted to enable them to share their experiences not only as defectors, but also as women, as elders, as musicians and most importantly as a community.

They are living proof that strength of mind and spirit can overcome life’s biggest challenges and go on to create new democratic communities with positivity and kindness at the core. While they are known for their music and dance performance, it is the true coming together of people to create, organise, feed and support each other that makes this inspirational community one that the world needs to see.


©Catherine Hyland. The Traces Left Behind IV

Catherine Hyland is an artist based in London. She graduated from Chelsea College of Art and Design with a First class BA (Hons) Degree in Fine Art and completed her Masters at the Royal College of Art. Her photography centres around people and their connection to the land they inhabit. Primarily landscape based, her work is rooted in notions of fabricated memory, grids, enclosures and national identity.

Her large format images depict humanity’s attempts – some more effective than others – to tame its environment. An observation that has led to both artistic and commercial outreach, with residences at venues such as Focal Point gallery in Southend for the RADICAL ESSEX programme and has exhibited work at Month of Photography Los Angeles, LES MAGASINS GÉNÉRAUX, Somerset House, Design Museum in London, ICA & MAC in Birmingham. Hyland’s ongoing projects highlight humanity’s attempts to tame and transform nature, both past and present.


©Catherine Hyland, The Traces Left Behind V

The Traces Left Behind Film from Catherine Hyland on Vimeo.


©Catherine Hyland, From ‘The Traces Left Behind’ film


©Catherine Hyland, From ‘The Traces Left Behind’ film


©Catherine Hyland, From ‘The Traces Left Behind’ film


©Catherine Hyland, From ‘The Traces Left Behind’ film


©Catherine Hyland, From ‘The Traces Left Behind’ film


©Catherine Hyland, From ‘The Traces Left Behind’ film


©Catherine Hyland, From ‘The Traces Left Behind’ film


©Catherine Hyland, From ‘The Traces Left Behind’ film


©Catherine Hyland, From ‘The Traces Left Behind’ film

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