UCL IOE Confucius Institute Young Photographers’ Competition 2020

Run by IOE Confucius Institute, The Young Photographers’ Competition is for young people aged 18 years and under. The aim of the competition is to ignore the cultural stereotypes of China through photography, and show China through the lens of a camera, as seen by young people. The Photography Competition encourages exploration in their relationship with China and Chinese culture.

In 2020, the Photography Competition faced challenges due to COVID19 pandemic, in which exploration was limited for many of those who entered the competition. However, we found that the entries were extremely creative because of this and it was clear that students had thought outside of the box to capture their photographs.

This year there were five categories that young people could interpret in different ways. The five categories were:

  • Art Re-Imagined
  • Interconnectivity
  • Chinese Opera Mask
  • Made in China
  • Ready Steady Cook (Portfolio of 5 Photos)

The entries received were of a very high standard and members of the panel were really impressed with the creativity shown in so many of the pieces that were sent through. We would like to thank all those who entered the competition.

After much deliberation, the judging panel shortlisted five 1st place winners (one for each category) and five Highly Commended entries from across all five categories. The winners were announced in line with Chinese New Year and the students’ schools were encouraged to share the good news with colleagues and students.

Sadly, due to the current circumstances across the UK, we will not be able to exhibit the winning entries at UCL North Cloisters and South Cloisters in the springtime as we have done in previous years. However, should circumstances change, we do hope to display these in Autumn 2021.

Please find the winning entries from each of the categories below, along with the winning highly commended entries. There is also an explanation of where the inspiration came from for each photo.


Art Re-Imagined

Name: Aisosa Akenzua, Age: 14

My inspiration for this picture was when I went to China for 2 weeks as part of the Mandarin Excellence Programme, where I received the opportunity to broaden my knowledge about Chinese culture and language. When this picture was taken, I was learning about Chinese theatre and Chinese dancing.

– Aisosa Akenzua

Kingsford Community School

1st Prize – Art Re-imagined



Name: Karen Chen, Age: 17

In my photography, I chose to use a fisheye lens on my camera to get a fuller picture of what I was capturing. I depict my experience of the whole family gathered around the island, each person taking on a different role in the dumpling making process. I like the effect the fisheye lens has on the photo as it gives the whole photo a sense of togetherness and ‘interconnectivity’ meanwhile representing the annual nature of the popular Chinese New Year festival and mid-autumn festival.

– Karen Chen

Belvedere Academy

1st Prize – Interconnectivity



Name: Sara Abdulhadi, Age: 14

All I did was get something was that unique to me, then make something with my own hands. After that, I created my own master piece!

– Sara Abdulhadi

Belvedere Academy

1st Prize – Masks


Made in China

Name: Habiba Hassan Bello, Age: 16

The fact that we are surrounded by so many things that are made in China but fail to realise it.

-Habiba Hassan Bello

Belvedere Academy

1st Prize – Made in China


Ready Steady Cook

Name: Jashan Ball, Age: 16


My inspiration for cooking these Chinese dishes was derived mainly from my trips to China. I have had several visits to China with my family and also one with school.  During my school trip to Beijing, I was lucky enough to attended a much-needed cooking lesson. I learnt how to make Chinese dumplings and aubergine & pork hot pot. I have since been obsessed with Chinese cuisine.

-Jashan Ball

Grey Court School

1st Prize – Ready Steady Cook


Art Re-Imagined

Name: Marija Jablonovska, Age: 15


I find the Chinese culture very fascinating and beautiful. I just wanted to capture a photo to show people my perspective of China, Beijing.

-Marija Jablonovska

Kingsford Community School

Highly commended entry for Art-Re Imagined



Name: Kate Adams, Age: 13

The inspiration for the photo was my parents’ trip to china in 2004 where they visited the great wall, terracotta army, forbidden city, and many other historical sites. I used some of their pictures to get an idea of what I wanted to create.

-Kate Adams

Belvedere Academy

Highly commended entry for Interconnectivity




Name: Eden Cracknell, Age: 11

Me and my family were walking in London around China town, and we were walking beneath these exquisite arches. I thought this would be a perfect entry for the Photo competition, I found the perfect angle, and took the photo. The real reason I submitted this photo was the fact that the lights on the surrounding arch lit the arch up, and made it look ethereal.

-Eden Cracknell

Harris Academy

Highly commended entry for Interconnectivity


Made in China

Name: Lina Gonzales, Age: 11

I was trying to compose a piece of art work that would represent the magnitude of the Chinese market influence in a wide range of different items. I chose the most interesting and weird items of the house to make my collage as attractive and colourful as possible.

-Lina Gonzales

Didcot Girls

Highly commended entry for Made in China


Ready Steady Cook

Name: Ellie Morrison, Age: 12

My inspiration for the photograph is my love of Chinese food. I also have friends in Beijing and Hong Kong and we regularly discuss recipes and swap pictures of food we like to cook and eat. I love to cook Chinese food and my favourite is sweet and sour chicken with fried rice and spring rolls. I also like to draw and take photographs of food.

-Ellie Morrison

Boroughmuir High School

Highly commended entry for Ready Steady Cook