Australian wins 2021 Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize
Australian photographer David Prichard has won first prize in the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2021 for Tribute to Indigenous Stock Women, his series of portraits of First Nations women who spent most of their working lives on cattle stations in Far North Queensland. As the 2021 winner, Prichard takes home the £15,000 first prize.
Pierre-Elie de Pibrac was awarded second prize for Hakanai Sonzai, a series of portraits taken in Japan focused on people who exhibited fortitude in the face of adversity. Third prize was awarded to Katya Ilina for David, taken from a series of portraits that celebrate positive body image and question notions of masculinity and femininity by highlighting their fluidity.
The annual portrait prize, awarded by the National Portrait Gallery in London, was established in 2003 with sponsorship by Taylor Wessing for the last 14 years. The prize-winning photographs and those selected for inclusion in the exhibition were chosen from 5,392 submissions entered by 2,215 photographers from 62 countries. A total of 54 portraits from 25 artists have been selected for display in the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2021 exhibition in London. Images were selected for display by a panel of judges including:
- Misan Harriman, photographer and Chair of the Southbank Centre
- Mariama Attah, curator of Open Eye Gallery, Liverpool
- Dr Susan Bright, curator and writer
About the winners
David Prichard – First Prize
Born in 1966, David Prichard studied photography at Sydney Technical College and has worked in film and photography in Australia, Cuba, and Brazil. He was a finalist in the National Portrait Prize, Australia (2018) and his earlier series, Indigenous Rodeo Riders, can be seen in a permanent installation in Normanton, Queensland. This is the first time he has entered a work for the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize.
Prichard’s series, Tribute to Indigenous Stock Women, presents portraits of First Nations women who spent most of their working lives on cattle stations in Far North Queensland. Their physically demanding labour as stock women involved a range of duties, from cooking and other homestead chores, to maintaining the welfare of the livestock, often on horseback. The cultural and social history of stock women has gone almost completely unrecorded. Reflecting on the series, Prichard said: "I have always been respectful of cultural and social sensitivities and subsequently built trust with the community, which led me to be invited to photograph the women. The project is not about me. I am only the vehicle for the women to tell their stories."
Pierre-Elie de Pibrac – Second Prize
Pierre-Elie de Pibrac was born in Paris in 1983 and graduated from business school in 2009 but changed his career path when his first photographic portraits, taken on a trip to Myanmar, received immediate recognition. de Pibrac has since become a widely recognised visual artist, exhibiting extensively in France, the USA, and Japan. He has published several monographs and won the Prix HIP 2020 Book of the Year, in the reportage and history category. This is the first time he has entered a work for the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize.
The title of Pierre-Elie de Pibrac’s series, Hakanai Sonzai, translates as "I, myself, feel like an ephemeral creature". It reflects the photographer’s belief that his sitters’ forbearance in the face of adversity is rooted in the Japanese national culture of fatality and awareness of impermanence. In Fukushima, he photographed residents exiled from their contaminated homes following the nuclear disaster the city witnessed a decade ago. Other portraits were made in the former mining town Yubari, once known as the country’s capital of coal, now devastated by colliery closures and depopulation. Speaking about this series, de Pibrac said: "Each portrait emanates from long discussions I had with my subjects about a painful event in their lives. In all the pictures I forbid any movement, as if they are trapped by their surroundings with no visible escape."
Katya Ilina – Third Prize
Born in the Russian city of Perm in 1990, Katya Ilina bought her first camera as a teenager during a "life-changing" summer exchange in small-town Montana. She has exhibited in Europe and Asia, and is studying for a BFA in Image Arts: Photography Studies at Ryerson University in Toronto, while taking on personal projects and freelance fashion assignments. This is the first time she has been selected for the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize exhibition.
Katya Ilina’s entry, David, is taken from Rosemary & Thyme, a series of portraits that celebrate positive body image and question notions of masculinity and femininity by highlighting their fluidity. The series subverts time-honoured tropes of representation in Western art by depicting male sitters in poses traditionally found in portraits of females. Ilina took inspiration from Grayson Perry’s book The Descent of Man, which looks at how rigid masculine roles can be chronically damaging to men. She was introduced to David Adelaja through a modelling agency, and photographed him at a studio in Toronto, using natural light.
Speaking about her work, Ilina said: "I strive to show beauty in all its forms. I’m interested in things that make us human in the modern world and everything I do comes from my personal experiences, one way or another."
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