Winner announced for the RSA Morton Award

The RSA Morton Award (£5,000) is for artists working in a lens-based media in Scotland

We’re delighted to announce Flannery O’Kafka as the 2022 recipient of the RSA Morton Award, which grants £5,000 to artists working in a lens-based media.


Flannery graduated from the Glasgow School of Art in 2018 and has since had work exhibited across the country. Working primarily within the medium of 35mm snapshot photography, Flannery is loosely constructing a fractured family album that hangs somewhere between an emotional document and a fiction. The Morton Award will fund her most recent project ‘Wake Wake Island’, a photo series exploring her journey to finding her birth parents. Read what the artist has to say about the project below.


 “In December 2014, my adoption records were still sealed, so I decided to try and find my birth parents through social media. Within a few days a record of my birth was found in the Ohio birth index, listing my birthplace as Wake Wake Island, 99999. It's a fictional place; a code phrase meaning ‘adopted out of state.’ I decided then that I would start a project about finding my parents, and call it WAKE WAKE ISLAND. A few hours later, I saw a photo of my birth mother and we were speaking for the first time since I was three days old. I never had time to begin the project. A year later I was gifted a bag of old unprocessed slide film from the 60s & 70s . I began processing the rolls and the first image I saw was of palm trees in a storm. I was accidentally finding the landscape of Wake Wake Island. Occasional black holes and flocks of birds/insects appeared through the deterioration of the film. There is a white car that I had previously seen in a child’s drawing—and it looks like the car my parents are leaning against in the only photo I have seen of them together. Many of the photographs feature Hilda, who never had children, but who seems to appear with her Icon-like poses, like a mother figure for the island and for the unwanted children who live in this liminal space.


Though extremely personal, my work also engages photography's problematic history of the picturing of illness, disability, and the suffering underpinning it all. My practice is not predictive or prescriptive- it involves present experience and is driven by intuition. In the tradition of liturgical call and response, I research under a title or banner and the photographs I make are the reply.”


The RSA Morton Award (£5,000) is for artists working in a lens-based media in Scotland. The award is funded by The Morton Charitable Trust and administered by the Royal Scottish Academy and consists of:


  • A monetary award to research, develop and produce a new body of work in a lens-based medium
  • An exhibition of selected completed work at the Royal Scottish Academy at a future date
  • Acquisition of work into the RSA Permanent Collection; ‘A Recognised Collection of National Significance to Scotland’


1 November 2022
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