Callena’s cafe contrast wins photo award

Queensland College of Art student Callena Brenchley's winning entry in the 2013 Sanpellegrino Cafe Society Photography Competition

The transformation of a modern Brisbane café into an underground, after-hours scene reminiscent of the film noir 1950s has earned Griffith University’s Callena Brenchley a prestigious photographic award.

The 21-year-old Queensland College of Art student’s evocative image, captured at the New Farm Deli in Brunswick Street, was voted the best of the 38 finalists in the 2013 Sanpellegrino Café Society Photography Competition.

Callena received her award at a chic cocktail party on the terrace roof at the Gallery of Modern Art.

The brief for the 2013 competition was: “One of the many reasons Café Society has become an integral part of modern life is because we can count on its constant and reliable accessibility. But what happens when the doors are closed? Capture the essence of your café after hours.”

Callena’s photograph depicts a woman sitting on the café’s interior steps and either oblivious or ambivalent about smoke and steam billowing through an open door behind her. In one hand, she holds a cigarette; in the other, a bottle of the sponsor’s product. Her bowler hat rests on a banister upright.

An excited Callena said she had hoped to take the “after hours” concept into a completely different setting.

“I really wanted to push the idea of contrast and transformation, the feeling that a cafe that operates normally by day could become this almost underground world existing in another time when the doors are closed,” she said.

Callena said she hoped to work as a freelance photographer and operate her own photography business after graduating from Griffith.

While the Sanpellegrino competition has been running for 14 years in Melbourne and Sydney, 2013 was its second year in Brisbane. It connects QCA photography students with the coolest, quirkiest and classic cafes in Brisbane and on the Gold Coast.

Callena Brenchley (second from right) with representatives from New Farm Deli and sponsor company, Sanpellegrino
Callena Brenchley (second from right) with representatives from New Farm Deli and sponsor company, Sanpellegrino

Brand manager for Sanpellegrino, Ms Manuela Capponi, said: “It’s great to see how this year’s brief really captured the imagination of students, which resulted in some wonderfully unique images that tell a story behind the scenes.”

Judges included Julie Ewington (Curator, Queensland Art Gallery), Madeline Healy (Editor, Brisbane News) and Fiona Donnelly (Queensland editor for Australian Gourmet Traveller‘s annual Restaurant Guide).

The 2013 results were:

1st Callena Brenchley, New Farm Deli, New Farm ($1500 and a Sanpellegrinio gift box);

2nd Eloisa Riley, Pompidou Café, Balmoral ($500 and gift box);

3rd Claire Williams, Moose & Gibson, Woolloongabba ($250 and gift box);

The Creativity Award went to Natalie Brockett, Two Cups Espresso, Spring Hill ($250 and gift box).

Sanpellegrino will produce a 2014 diary and calendar which will include all 113 images submitted to its various competitions.