Joy Mei En Lai has worked in Sydney's leading cultural institutions for more than a decade. Her photographs regularly appear in print, exhibitions and on the facades of prominent public buildings. Grounded in film photography and broad commercial experience, Joy’s visual practice encompasses a love for digital technology combined with a painterly aesthetic.
With a degree in visual arts, Joy’s eye is formally composed but reframes the traditional gaze of landscape photography. Having worked extensively with Aboriginal communities, her immersive works embrace First Nations perspectives of Country and custodianship. She is drawn equally to wild places and the sparse intrigue of urban environments.
When capturing portraits, Joy collaborates with her subjects, forming intense connections that are immediate and genuine. Joy achieves striking results that represent the sitter’s authenticity and she is sensitive to the often-fraught nature of portraiture. She demonstrates an innate understanding of people and their environments. Joy was a finalist in 2023’s Olive Cotton Award, a national biennial award for excellence in portraiture.
Born in Aotearoa New Zealand, Joy has also lived in Asia and Australia. Based on Gadigal land in Sydney, she creates work from her own explorations while welcoming commissioned assignments.