David Stewart Wins Taylor Wessing Photography Prize 2015

David Stewart has won the Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize for 2015, for a portrait of his daughter sitting at a table with four of her friends. The winning portrait Five Girls 2014 shows the photographer’s daughter with four close friends and mirrors a photograph he took of them seven years ago, which was displayed in the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2008. In the original photograph, the friends were about to start their GCSEs and, in the updated version, they have just graduated from university.

Stewart says: ‘I have always had a fascination with the way people interact – or, in this case, fail to interact, which inspired the photograph of this group of girls. While the girls are physically very close and their style and clothing highlight their membership of the same peer group, there is an element of distance between them.’ This year is the sixteenth time Stewart has had a photograph selected for the annual exhibition.

Born in Lancaster, England, David Stewart began his career photographing punk bands, including The Clash and The Ramones, and the colourful characters seen on Morecambe Promenade. After graduating at Blackpool and The Fylde College, Stewart moved to London in 1981 and now works on a mix of personal projects and commissions.

Second prize has been awarded to Anoush Abrar’s photograph of a young boy, inspired by Caravaggio’s painting Sleeping Cupid; third prize has gone to to Peter Zelewski’s photograph of a woman he spotted on Oxford Street whilst working on his series Beautiful Strangers; and fourth prize was awarded to Ivor Prickett’s photograph of a displaced Iraqi family who had fled their village near Mosul after Isis took control of the area. The John Kobal New Work Award, worth £5,000, was won by Tereza Červeňová for her portrait of her friend Yngvild.

The winning portraits will be on display as part of the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2015exhibition from 12 November 2015 to 21 February 2016. The annual exhibition is one of the most prestigious photography awards in the world and showcases new work that has been submitted by some of the most exciting and cutting-edge contemporary photographers. Since the international competition began in 1993, it has remained a hugely important platform for portrait photographers and offers an unparalleled opportunity for celebrated professionals, emerging artists and amateurs alike.

Judged anonymously, the diversity of styles in the exhibition reflects the international mix of entries as well as photographers’ individual and varied approaches to the genre of portraiture. For the first time, photographers were encouraged to submit works as a series in addition to stand-alone portraits, and there was no minimum size requirement for prints.

The prize-winning photographs and those selected for inclusion in the exhibition were chosen from 4929 submissions entered by 2201 photographers from 70 countries.

Dr Nicholas Cullinan, Director, National Portrait Gallery, says: ‘Congratulations to David Stewart on winning theTaylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2015 with his intriguing photograph of his daughter and her friends. Once again, I would like to thank the thousands of photographers who entered such a variety of impressive prints from across the globe, enabling the judges to form this compelling exhibition which is, essentially, a dynamic photographic portrait of the world today.’

Tim Eyles, Managing Partner, Taylor Wessing LLP, says: ‘After eight years of sponsoring the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize, we continue to be inspired by the range and merit of the thousands of photographs submitted from around the world. The winning portraits shone through with not only their creativity, quality and emotive subjects, but also with their universal appeal. Our heartfelt congratulations go to all the shortlisted photographers.’

This year’s exhibition also features previously unseen prints from a new body of work by the award-winning South African photographer, Pieter Hugo. The large prints offer a preview of Hugo’s current portraiture project in which he photographs children who were born in Rwanda and South Africa after 1994 – a year that saw momentous events in the history of both nations. The prints form the inaugural In Focus display, an annual showcase for new work by an internationally renowned photographer, shown alongside the photographs selected from the competition entries. As the first ever In Focus artist, Hugo was chosen by the Gallery for his uncompromising, insightful and occasionally provocative approach to portraiture.

£3,000 Second Prize: Anoush Abrar for Hector Anoush Abrar was born in Tehran, Iran, and lived in Switzerland from the age of five. He studied at the University of Arts in Lausanne and has taught photography there since 2005. Abrar has had his work exhibited in museums and galleries around the world and now lives and works between London and Lausanne. The idea behind Abrar’s portrait Hector stems from the photographer’s fascination with Caravaggio’s work, particularly his painting Sleeping Cupid from 1608. Abrar explains: ‘Somehow I needed to make my own Sleeping Cupid. I found my portrait of Hector so powerful and iconic that it inspired me to continue this project as a series calledCherubs.’

£2,000 Third Prize: Peter Zelewski for Nyaueth

Peter Zelewski is a London-based portrait and documentary photographer. Born in Detroit, USA, he moved to London in the late 80s and studied Graphic Design at North London Polytechnic. Through his fascination and love of the city, he was drawn to the streets of London to take photographs of its citizens. Zelewski now divides his time between graphic design, commercial photography and his personal street portraiture projects. Zelewski’s portrait Nyaueth was taken near Oxford Street as part of his series Beautiful Strangers. Zelewski explains: ‘The aim of Beautiful Strangers is to challenge the concept of traditional beauty with a series of spontaneous and powerful street portraits of everyday citizens who show character, uniqueness and a special inner quality, which I try to interpret in my photographs.’

£1,000 Fourth Prize: Ivor Prickett for Amira and her Children

Ivor Prickett is a documentary photographer who works on personal projects whilst carrying out assignments for a diverse range of international clients. Having lived and worked in the Middle East and Turkey for nearly 5 years, he is now based in London. Prickett took the photograph Amira and her Children in Northern Iraq in September 2014 when working on an assignment for UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees). Prickett explains: ‘I met Amira and her family in the tent where they were living in at the Baharka camp near Erbil; they had fled their village near Mosul after Isis had taken control of the area. I spent some time speaking with Amira about what her family had gone through. As they became more comfortable with me being there they really started to express their closeness and became very tactile. It was a beautiful moment to witness in the midst of such a difficult situation.’

£5,000 John Kobal New Work Award: Tereza Červeňová for Yngvild

The £5,000 John Kobal New Work Award has been awarded to Tereza Červeňová for her photograph Yngvild, a portrait of the photographer’s friend the day before their friend’s wedding at Veluwe National Park in Holland. Tereza Červeňová is a Slovakian photographer currently living and working in London. She first moved to the city four years ago to study Photography at Middlesex University. Her work now focuses on portraiture and fine art photography.

The John Kobal New Work Award is given to a photographer under thirty whose work has been selected for theTaylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize exhibition. The winner receives a cash prize of £5,000 to include undertaking a commission to photograph a sitter connected with the UK film industry for the National Portrait Gallery Collection.

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