N.L. photographer wins international award, but cannot accept due to visa red tape


The winner of a prestigious international pictures award who lives in St. John’s was unable to accept the prize in particular person on Friday in Spain due to visa red tape. 

Ting Ting Chen is a pupil at Memorial University. In her spare time, she has found a ardour for effective artwork pictures, impressed primarily by her adopted province.

“I’d say I’ve not solely discovered my residence in Newfoundland, but additionally my muse,” Chen stated.

This yr, Chen’s photograph — The Duke — was chosen as the general winner within the non-professional class (single picture) of the Julia Margaret Cameron Awards. The international competitors entitles the winner to potential gallery illustration, {a magazine} characteristic and a completely funded gala exhibition in Barcelona’s FotoNostrum gallery.

She is the one particular person in Canada to win this yr.

Chen stated her solo exhibition would fully be made up of pictures of Newfoundland and the individuals she has met right here, a showcase for her to have fun her new residence. 

But as an alternative of exhibiting off her province in Spain, she has spent three months preventing to be allowed to come again to Canada after the present.

The profitable {photograph} by Chen, known as The Duke, is of her good friend Robert Tilley. It was the general winner within the non-professional class (single picture) on the Julia Margaret Cameron Awards. (Submitted by Ting Ting Chen)

Chen is initially from China. She got here to St. John’s in 2018 to work towards her PhD in folklore and shortly fell in love with Newfoundland and Labrador.

“When I first got here to Newfoundland I used to be tremendously impressed by its stunning panorama,” stated Chen.

“So, I shortly devoted myself to photographing its panorama as quickly as I got here right here, and I purchased a greater digicam. I up to date my gear and I’ve ambitions to be a greater photographer.”

Along along with her good friend, Robert Tilley, who’s featured in a lot of her pictures together with this yr’s winner, Chen has travelled across the island taking pictures of the locations and other people she’s seen, already incomes a number of awards for her work.

“If I did not come to Newfoundland, I would not turn out to be a photographer,” she stated.

Chen’s {photograph} of the Elliston panorama gained the grand prize as a part of the 2020 Reflections of Nature contest hosted by Canadian Wildlife Magazine. (Ting Ting Chen)

Chen isn’t a Canadian citizen and is just in a position to dwell in Newfoundland and Labrador thanks to a research allow.

As quickly as she discovered she had gained the award, she submitted her software for a short lived resident visa to re-enter Canada after the exhibition.

“According to the newest data on their web site, the conventional processing time is from 15 to 39 days,” stated Chen. “Now, greater than three months have handed.”

It is not the primary time she has travelled since coming to Canada, but it is the primary time she’s had this sort of delay.

Chen has appealed to the Department of Immigration and to Minister Seamus O’Regan’s workplace and each have been useful and communicative, she stated. But she has nonetheless heard nothing remaining about her visa.

CBC News has reached out to each, but had not heard again on the time of publishing.

The lighthouse at Cape Spear at sunrise, a small pond in the foreground with splashes of water in the air.
Chen’s photograph of Cape Spear lighthouse. (Submitted by Ting Ting Chen)

It’s not only a potential loss for Chen, but for the province itself, which she stated would have been seen by the European artwork world in a wholly new mild.

“Each and each photograph of my solo exhibit in Barcelona is about Newfoundland,” stated Chen. “It’s about Newfoundland portraits, it is about Newfoundland landscapes.

“I imagine that is the primary time {that a} Newfoundland-themed effective artwork photograph exhibit has ever occurred in Barcelona.… I used to be so enthusiastic about this.”

This week, she has stored up with the occasions on social media. Julio Hirsch-Hardy, the gallery’s CEO, has provided to delay her solo exhibition till November to see if the visa comes by means of.

The Colonial Building at night time in St. John’s as photographed by Chen. (Submitted by Ting Ting Chen)

Even if it does, Chen should then begin a second course of to acquire an entry visa for Spain. She may have to fly to Montreal and apply in particular person on the Spanish Consulate General to do this.

“I’m very grateful to come right here,” stated Chen, “and that is why I really feel heartbroken that I’d not have the ability to go to Barcelona. I’d not have the ability to showcase the fantastic thing about Newfoundland on a world stage as a result of I actually love this place.

“I actually worth this nice alternative … and now I’ve virtually misplaced it, and maybe I’ll lose it once more in November. So that is what tremendously shatters my coronary heart.”



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