Sarah Grounds

Craig Walsh 

Sarah Grounds’ excellent BODY project work is our first offering of the ‘illicit’ Open Call feature in the Autumn 22 issue of Pretence.  The images explore the complicated and often contradictory relationship between body and societal perceptions.

This exploration of perception carries over into another of Grounds’ projects, ALONE, this time the perception of herself.  It was one of the photographs from this project that took the BBA One Shot Award, announced during the Berlin Photo Week.

The One Shot Award was started as part of the annual Open Call for the BBA Photography Prize. Founded by the Berlin based BBA Gallery, it is an international Open Call competition.  Fifty shortlisted nominees are chosen to take part in the exhibition with a showreel during the exhibition. An International Jury then chooses the One Shot Award.

Each artist / Photographer enters with one Shot only and this is what counts. Anyone over the age of 18, from any educational or professional background can enter the Competition. 

Renata Kudlacek, BBA Gallery Director and Curator explained the selection process to us, the Jury choosing only on the merit of the one shot whilst considering ‘What makes the one shot outstanding? Originality - uniqueness - concept execution. Is it memorable - out of the 50? How can this One Shot tell us a story and excites the viewer? Is there a message conveyed? Is this a contemporary issue / Story? How is it executed in terms of Composition / Gestaltung - expression - does it evoke imagination?’, ‘It can be from a very simple image, abstract, up to staged photography-   no subject given!’

On this basis Kudlacek explained why ALONE was chosen as the winning entry ‘(Alone) Stood out because of a simple shot that captivate the viewer - a woman in a bed with the bird perspective - we are looking down on her wondering what she is doing and why do we look at her down - it left us in our own thoughts. It excited the jury. There is a story behind it, but we still got carried away wondering … imagining …  It is engaging but at the same time just a very simple shot with a unique perspective (In many perspectives) One could see oneself or patrons / grandparents there - the power of empathy and see onset in it.’. 

This feedback was happily received by Grounds who is keen to engage the viewer and helps confirm her work is going in the direction she is trying to achieve ‘I have a very young practice as an artist but a lot of experience as a performer. The main focus of my work is to try and make that connection, between performer and the audience, that you can get through singing a song or reciting a monologue on stage. Can I achieve that through the still image? Can I get people to not only feel what I am feeling but relate to it in their own lives? Hearing why they chose my image, is a really nice confirmation that I am heading in the right direction for what I want to achieve with my work’.

‘The shot is from a larger project I worked on this year called The Alone Project. The project’s aim was to look at the question, Of all the Me’s I am in my life, am I the real me on my own? So I would take a quick, unplanned self-portrait with my iPhone (in RAW) whenever I was on my own and got that calm feeling.  The project is about the collection of images, that maybe the essence of those images, viewed together, is me.  So a lot of the images are quite normal and boring, but some of them turned out quite striking and can stand alone (no pun intended 😀) This is one of those images. I had set up a cardboard sling above my bed to take images from above for another project and I had left the sling there. So I quickly popped my phone in there when I was chilling on my bed 🙂

For Pretence, we see the photograph as Grounds lying on a bed, looking through the camera with a far-off gaze, a gaze lost in itself.  Such is the angle of the photograph, it’s as if we are seeing a reflection of Grounds’ reality with the compositional lines of the curtains and bed frame drawing us in, or is it out?  This is a single image from a project series, but you can see elements of ‘all the Me’s’ in this alone, the calm of the prostrate figure against the cast objects of a busy life, the book Battle Cry ready next to the alarm clock and perhaps most tellingly the stuffed toy still kept on the bed of the grown owner.

Pretence backed a winner.

You can see more of Grounds’ work in the ‘illicit’ issue of Pretence or at @midlifepsychosis and

For more on the BBA Gallery and upcoming opportunities visit

The next Open Call for the One Shot Award is now open.  The winner will receive 500 Euros and the ten runners up will have their photographs printed and shown at the BBA Gallery in Berlin. Nominees will be shown at a large screen / show reel end of January.  For more information including terms and conditions visit