The Hilda Canter-Lund Prize


The Hidden World of Algae, showing winners and shortlisted entries for the Hilda Canter-Lund prize, 2009-2011, at the Great North Museum, Newcastle, January 2012.

The 2015 Hilda Canter-Lund competiton is well under way (deadline: 24 June, full details at and the winner this year has the honour of seeing their image displayed in the Angela Marmot Centre, at the Natural History Museum in London.   This will not be the first time that prize winners have had their images on public display: in 2012 the Great North Museum in Newcastle hosted the “Hidden World of Algae” exhibition, with 18 images from the shortlists on display along with four of Hilda Canter-Lund’s own images.

The staff at the Great North Museum did a great job, tactfully editing the captions to remove all the jargon that they knew their audiences would not understand, and using their expertise to put on a really professional display.   One of their suggestions was to place QR codes alongside some of the images so that visitors could listen to the photographers conveying their enthusiasm about their subject matter.   Great idea, I thought (once I had looked up “QR code” on my computer – this was 2012, remember, eons ago in the fast-moving world of the internet).   I asked some of the photographers to record a couple of minutes of audio and send it to me to pass on to the museum. They, then, uploaded the audio file to YouTube and set up QR codes to point to their locations.

The only problem was that the gallery where our images were displayed had very poor mobile ‘phone reception, which meant that few of our visitors got any further than pointing their ‘phones at the QR codes and waiting … and waiting … for something to happen.   Consequently, these audio files have sat on the Great North Museum’s YouTube channel ever since, without the audiences that they deserve.

So here they are, in all their multimedia glory:


Gordon Beakes talks about his personal memories of Hilda Canter-Lund and also about his image of algae from Langdale Tarn in the Lake District, shortlisted in 2010.


Chris Carter talks about the origins of his fascination with algae, and about his image of the red algae Balbiania, shortlisted in 2012. Chris won the competition in 2013.


Eileen Bresnan talks about her image Chaetoceros Chaos, shortlisted in 2010.


John Huisman talks about his image of the red alga Dictyomenia sonderi, which was shortlisted in 2011 (John was also the winner in 2014).


Mariano Sirioni talks about his image of a southern Right Whale swimming through an algal bloom off the coast of Argentina, the winning image in 2009.

Remember: the closing date for the competition is 24 June, so there is still plenty of time to find a favourite image to submit.   The BPS website has all the details.


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