Renhui Zhao

Singaporean Renhui Zhao has just received the Association of Photographers’ Student of the Year award and is currently shortlisted for both the Adobe Design Achievement award and the LDC Photography awards. Not bad for someone in the middle of a BA (Hons) in Photography at Camberwell College of Arts

Zhao’s AOP award-winning images, entitled Animals Menagerie, come from a selection of photographs taken when he was travelling around Asia. In each country, he visited zoos, circuses or other establishments where animals were on show (black gibbons in Vietnam, shown). “My motivation is always to try and uncover the relationships that humans have with animals, to reflect on how we treat each other,” says Zhao. “I preferred the countries that treated animals really badly, as I found them much more interesting. But you do soon realise that all zoos treat animals similarly, even if they appear different at first.”

Zhao believes that his recent award will be key in gaining both awareness and sponsorship for his continuing photographic studies of the animal kingdom. Indeed, part of his AOP prize is the chance to accompany an AOP photographer on a shoot – and it’s easy to see why he chose to work with Tim Flach, whose stunning images of horses (CR Oct 06) have gained worldwide attention. For Zhao, there’s also another reason: “Tim’s most recent series of live bats attracted me because my last project was contrary to his; working with dead bats and staging them in a studio to look alive!”

As the recipient of the Chelsea Arts Club Travel award, Zhao will also embark on a further two projects abroad this year. He intends to go to Spain to document zoos and then to visit a series of tiger farms (areas set aside to encourage the survival of endangered species) in China.

Whilst studying, Zhao has also co-founded an initiative called “A Dose Of Light” – a collective of artists in Singapore who aim to promote their visual art internationally. A fellow member, Nicholas Chi, won AOP’s Merit Award for his image of the interior of a Singapore hairdressers.

Zhao has a philosophical view of his work, believing he is only as good as his last project. So we’ll have to see where the tiger farms in China lead him. His immediate intention is to complete the final year of his degree. “Then, I hope to stay in London and do commissioned projects on animals in order to promote social change,” he reveals.


More from CR

Fresh off the Factory Floor

Behold, the FAC51-Y3. No, it’s not a late addition to the musical catalogue of Mancunian record label Factory Records, but a highly limited trainer from Y-3 (the brand created by adidas and Yohji Yamamoto), devised especially to celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of legendary Manchester nightclub The Haçienda

Screen Star

I’m a bit of a sucker for a nice bit of screen-printing, which is why, of all the work on show at last week’s D&AD New Blood student showcase, Nicholas Saunders’ really caught my eye.

A Month In The Life Of A Graphic Designer

Over the next month, Michael C Place of Build and Creative Review will be conducting a unique experiment. We are going to document one month in the life of a graphic designer.

Senior Creative Designer

Monddi Design Agency

Head of Digital Content

Red Sofa London