SUZANNE Mooney is going places. Japan, York. Chicago. All in the airspace of a few days.

The Irish artist and photographer stopped over in North Yorkshire for the climax of the 2014 Aesthetica Art Prize last Wednesday, en route from her Tokyo home to address a conference in the United States.

It was to prove a rewarding trip to York St Mary’s because Suzanne was awarded the Student Prize for Come Away O… (2013) and Tokyo Summit A (2012).

The first work is the conversation piece of the two; the second emphasising the point made by the first, which is hanging at the epicentre of the deconsecrated church in Castlegate, as if forming an extra stained glass window suspended from the rafters, responding to the rise and fall of the sun through the day.

Comprised of two photographic images of near-identical window frames, Come Away O… invites onlookers to partake – if only for a transient moment – in a figure’s contemplation of the Tokyo landscape below.

From the photograph you will see Suzanne taking up her own invitation, and it is a posture she adopts regularly in her academic artistic explorations. “Come Away O…is part of a larger body of ten photographic works, Outside In, which explores city-view observatories in Tokyo and considers the importance of the act of viewing a city from above to the urbanite,” says Suzanne, who observes and experiments with landscape as a theme in her work.

Born in Dublin, Suzanne moved to Wicklow, then travelled, gaining outstanding results in her artistic studies before the wanderlust struck again. “I knew that I didn’t want to live in Ireland any more. It felt too constricted,” she says. “I love cities and I love anonymity, whether in the countryside or the big city.”

Suzanne duly headed to one such city, acquiring a residency in the National Art Studio at Changdong, Seoul, in South Korea in 2007.

“That four-month stay was when I became interested in city landscapes and their sprawling centres, where the landscape can change so much within one city centre, whereas here in Europe, we know where our city centres are, where they begin and end,” says Suzanne. “That’s the European mentality of needing a precise city centre.”

Suzanne moved to Tokyo six years ago to continue her artistic studies on a scholarship. “Technically, Tokyo is not a city, but a metropolis with 23 self-governing districts called ‘Ku’, so you pay your income tax but a portion of that goes to your district, including for health insurance,” she says, after settling in Toshima Ku.

“These images in my work are of Toshima Ku. Initially I went to Nihon University 20 minutes away and after two years, I moved to a different university, TAMA, out in the mountains on the fringes of Tokyo, where I studied for a practice-based PhD in art.”

The second exhibition work, Tokyo Summit A emerged from taking a photograph almost every day, or at least a couple of days a week, for a year, to present a panoramic view from an observatory, utilising 100 images.

“What I wanted to emphasise was to show how futile it was to try to see the full view because the cityscape is so large,” she says.

• Suzanne Mooney is among eight artists on the prize shortlist whose works will be on show at York St Mary’s until May 31, in an exhibition co-ordinated by Aesthetica Magazine with the York Museums Trust, open Thursday to Monday, 10am to 4pm; free admission.

• Exhibition visitors can vote for their favourite work in the People’s Choice Award.