Rays of Hope

Sunbeams through trees
Image by Shamil Khairov

Universitas 21 is delighted to announce the overall winners in our Images of Hope Competition 2021.  

First Prize was awarded to Dr Shamil Khairov, whose image entitled ‘Rays of Hope’ captured the imagination of the judges. With such tough competition, the judges decided on two images to share second place - Iman Khan from the University of Auckland, and Marte Krijn from the University of Amsterdam.  Iman was also the winner of the People’s Choice award, as voted for by U21 members at the Annual Network Meeting and Conference in May. Third place was awarded to Prateek Bhan, also from the University of Glasgow.  

Shamil, who won the competition, commented; “It has been a hard year. We had to re-define our attitude to other people, and our modus vivendi has also changed: many of us became more attentive to the nature and to the people around us.  I started taking pictures in my childhood in a provincial Russian town many years ago, and photography has since then always been my non-verbal form of expression. I am sure I am not alone with this passion, and the concept of the Images of Hope competition was an excellent opportunity for us to have a close look at our photo diaries and to reflect on how we see the world around us these days. It did not take me long to select a photograph for it, which I entitled Rays of Hope. It was taken in Victoria Park, Glasgow, when, after a stretch of cold and gloomy December days, the sun suddenly broke through the thick fog and gave us a smile of hope.” 

The competition was developed by U21’s outgoing Provost Professor Bairbre Redmond to bring the network together and share positivity across the globe.  Given four headings - ‘resilience’, ‘community’, ‘creativity’ and ‘solidarity’, entrants were asked to collect and share images of the affirmation, kindness and optimism that they have seen or experienced during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

We received over 200 exceptional entries, and an experienced panel of judges considered the originality of composition, the visual impact of the image, the connection of the image to the competition theme and its narrative, and the creative delivery and innovative approach of the entry.  

Professor Bairbre Redmond commented “One couldn’t help but be moved and cheered by both the quality of the images submitted and the uplifting accompanying comments from the photographers/artists.  In some of the darker days of the pandemic they showed so clearly the power of hope and optimism in helping all of us survive very difficult times”. 

Thank you to all our members who submitted their images to the competition. You can find many of the images in a dedicated gallery on the Universitas 21 website.

Images of Hope Competition Winners 

First Prize - Shamil Khairov from the University of Glasgow

Joint Second - Iman Khan from the University of Auckland, and Marte Krijn from the University of Amsterdam.  

Third Prize – Prateek Bhan from the University of Glasgow 

People’s Choice Award (as voted by members at our 2021 Annual Network Meeting and AGM) -  Iman Khan from the University of Auckland