The Loose Joints and Mahler & LeWitt Studios Publishing Award is a yearly opportunity to develop an artist’s practice through an artist residency and book award, focused on a curated theme. With a new theme chosen yearly, this award arises from the initiatives of publisher Loose Joints and residency program Mahler & LeWitt Studios in Spoleto, Italy toward supporting and championing visual narratives relevant to our contemporary moment. In 2023 we partnered with innovative magazine Atmos for Publishing Ecology: an award inviting artists engaging with the anthropocene, climate change and the environment.

The winner of Publishing Ecology 2023 is Ngadi Smart (SL/UK), for her project Wata Na Life.

Wata Na Life is an expressive series of photo-collages from her native Sierra Leone. Initially commissioned by charity WaterAid and the British Journal of Photography, Smart’s commission blossomed into a series that takes the context of a water crisis, deepened by corruption and government complacency, and builds a vibrant and lucid foundation for empowerment and change through photo-collage works. Smart looks beyond the tropes of how Western media have portrayed African nations to create a visual language of her own that is brimming with vitality, alongside tension and questions of power. Wata Na Life seeks a path to climate justice through visually uplifting and celebrating those most vulnerable to the effects of its degradation.

Smart will develop her interdisciplinary photographic works this summer for a month as artist-in-residence at the Mahler & LeWitt Studios in Spoleto, Italy, with her book published by Loose Joints in Summer 2024. 

The residency application for 2023 was supported by Picter, the industry standard for visual applications. The selection committee comprised of artist Richard Mosse, publishers Loose Joints (Lewis Chaplin and Sarah Chaplin Espenon), Mahler & LeWitt Studios curator Guy Robertson, curator Lucia Pietroiusti, and Atmos Culture Editor Daphne Chouliaraki Milner.