Born in 1975 in Brighton, Alys Tomlinson lives and works in London. She studied photography at Central Saint Martin’s College of Art and Design. Alys was selected for the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize exhibition in 2017 and won the Sony World Photographer of the Year Award in 2018. Her book Ex-Voto, the culmination of a five-year photographic journey to Catholic pilgrimage sites in Ireland, Poland, and France, was published in 2019.
Alys’ series Lost Summer was born out of her frustration at not being able to travel for work. She decided to photograph local teenagers whose proms were canceled, dressed up in what they would have worn, but captured in their gardens, backyards, or local parks. Reflecting on the works Alys says: I feel that there is a vulnerability and sadness to the portraits, but also a resilience. The school year ended abruptly, with no opportunity to say goodbye to friends and nothing to mark the occasion of leaving school. I wanted to photograph each teenager framed by nature, merging their inner and outer worlds. There is a quietness to the images and they represent a loss and longing, but also celebrate each teenager as an individual, navigating this extraordinary time.”
The judges felt that Alys Tomlinson’s portraits were very simple, but powerful images with a beautiful clarity. Without being heavy-handed, they spoke to the events of 2020, including lockdown, and the generation most affected by them.