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Sykes Prize 2024

Humanity’s Place in Nature  

We are delighted to announce the winners of the Robinson College Sykes Prize 2024. As was the case in previous years, the entries were of an extremely high standard, all displaying different imaginative and formal qualities. Once again, we warmly congratulate the winners of this year's prize on the originality of their achievements. The winners are listed below, along with links to their entries, and below that list is the original prompt for this year's award. The judges would like to offer thanks again to Keith Sykes for his generous support of the initiative.

First place: Louis Cameron (Alfred Popkin Takes It All the Way to the Top)

Second place: Elsie Hayward (Pink sky in the morning)

Joint third place: Kai Sun (<⁄Recursion>), India Harris (Grounds), Raheal Mensah (Angel's Trumpet)

NATURE:     Did you perhaps imagine that the world was made for your benefit? Let me tell you that in my handiworks, in my arrangements and my operations, except very seldom, I always had and always have a mind to things quite other than the happiness of men or their unhappiness.

                                Leopardi, Nature and an Icelander

The Dialogue of Nature and an Icelander was written on 21, 27 and 30 May 1824 by Giacomo Leopardi. As Patrick Creagh observes, “Leopardi felt it to be the most precise and comprehensive summary of his views so far”, which were expressed in “two passionate protests against the human condition on the part of the Icelander, and two rejoinders by Nature”. A link to extracts from Leopardi’s Italian text, coupled with Creagh’s translation, can be found here.

Nearly two hundred years later, humanity is being forced to reconsider its place in the natural world. The indifference and majesty of Nature, so compellingly captured by Leopardi, has been replaced by an awareness of the reality of human destruction and the devastation of natural environments.