Morris Lum, Mow Lee Co, San Francisco, 2017, from the photobook Tong Yan Gaai (2012-2022). Courtesy of the artist.

Morris Lum awarded the 2023 Burtynsky Grant

CONTACT is pleased to announce Toronto-based artist Morris Lum as the 2023 Burtynsky Grant winner for the book project Tong Yan Gaai (2012-2022).

The jury, comprising Edward Burtynsky, Nour Bishouty, Anne-Marie Proulx, and Ryan Walker had the pleasure of reviewing a wide range of compelling, competitive photobook proposals from across Canada.

“For over a decade Morris Lum has been using his large-format camera to document Chinatowns across North America, creating his series Tong Yan Gaai (2012-2022). Often photographing at dawn, Lum uses the light of early day and vacant streets to capture the nuances of every façade, storefront, house, church, and wall mural. These urban portraits hint at a human presence, direct attention to the functionality of such cultural enclaves, and explore the myriad ways that Chinese identity has been expressed through these geographic spaces over the years.

As a photobook, viewers are rewarded with the ability to intimately engage with the subtle details that Lum’s work foregrounds; in revisiting and rephotographing these sites, his photographs reveal the rapid architectural and economic changes that these diasporic communities have faced over time. The book includes an essay and interview that speak to Lum’s process, and to the history of Chinatowns and visual culture more broadly. The jury is excited that this grant will enable Lum to refine his book design for future publication.

The jury would like to acknowledge the following Honourable Mentions:

Cindy BlazevicThe Stink of Motherhood
Sandra BrewsterBlur
Chris M ForsythMontana Road Wreck

Photographer Edward Burtynsky and CONTACT established the Burtynsky Grant in 2016–a $5,000 annual grant to support a Canadian artist in the creation of a photobook. The grant supports photo-based artists who are at the advanced stages of developing a cohesive, rigorous body of work presented in book form. 

Submissions for the 2024 Grant will open Summer 2024.


Since its inception, The Burtynsky Grant has supported a range of exceptional photobooks, many created by Canadian and international independent publishers.

Fatine-Violette Sabiri, Kiss Landing. Forthcoming.

Honourable Mentions:

Oumayma Ben Tanfous, Intertwined
Bertrand Carrière, Une poignée d’étoiles (A Handful of Stars)
Tommy Keith, Don’t Forget to Wave
Julie Pasila, As Above

Cristian Ordóñez, Frequency. Self-published in 2023.

Honourable Mentions

Sara Knelman, Lady Readers
Jon Laytner, Normal and Boring
Rehab Nazzal, Driving in Palestine
Kyler Zeleny, Bury Me in the Back Forty


Pamila Matharu, Index: Some of All Parts. Forthcoming.

Honourable Mentions

Leyla Godfrey, Four Walls With No Entrance
Esmond Lee, Below the City
Laurence Philomene, Puberty

Teresa Eng, China Dream. Published 2019 by Skinnerboox.

Honourable Mentions

Valerian Mazataud, Liwa Mairin. Self-published in 2021.
Luis Mora, Say it with Flowers. Self-published in 2019.
Heather Rattray, 98 Ways to Say Very Good

Birthe Piontek, Abendlied. Published 2019 by Gnomic Book.

Honourable Mentions

Eve Tagny, Lost Love
Ian Willms, We Shall See

The Broadbent Sisters, A Telepathic Book. Self-published in 2018.

Aaron Friend Lettner, Doorways. Published 2017 by Anchorless Press.

Submissions for the 2024 Grant will open Summer 2024. Submission guidelines are below:

Please provide the following via filesharing service such as WeTransfer or Dropbox to [email protected]:

– Minimum 10 spreads (two pages side-by-side, like an open book) of your book dummy that best communicate your project and vision for publication. Full book submissions are also welcome if preferred
– Project statement about your photobook
– Rough outline of how you would use the grant funding (ie. budget details regarding printing, distribution, design, etc)
– CV and/or artist statement
– Expressions of interest from publishers, if available (this is not mandatory, as you may be self-publishing)

Please note that the jury is not interested in reviewing submissions related to: street photography, travelogues or vacations, architecture, or fashion.

Email [email protected] with your questions.