Press Release  November 4, 2020

Shortlist Announced for Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2020

© Alys Tomlinson

Alys Tomlinson, Samuel, Jack and Jameela from the series Lost Summer

The Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2020 is the leading international competition, open to all, which celebrates and promotes the very best in contemporary portrait photography from around the world.

Showcasing talented young photographers, gifted amateurs and established professionals, the competition, showcases a diverse range of images and tells the often fascinating stories behind the creation of the works, from formal commissioned portraits to more spontaneous and intimate moments capturing friends and family.

This year the exhibition will be displayed online, in a virtual gallery that replicates the rooms of the National Portrait Gallery. This digital exhibition will allow the Gallery to reach a wide international audience and ensure that the competition is able to continue as planned during the current Coronavirus pandemic. Online visitors will be able to view the portraits collectively, as well as exploring each individual work in more detail.

Shortlisted Artists:

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’ shortlisted 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.”

© Yolanda Y. Liou

Yolanda Y. Liou, Enam Ewura Adjoa Asiama

Yolanda Y. Liou is a 30-year-old, Taiwan-born photographer and moving image maker, based in London & Brighton. Her work has been featured in publications including The British Journal of Photography, i-D, and It's Nice That. Her commissioned fashion work includes GQ, Marie Claire and Rouge Fashionbook. This is the first time she has been selected for the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize exhibition.

Yolanda’s shortlisted portrait is from a collaborative on-going project Thank You For Playing With Me with artists Enam Ewura Adjoa Asiama (the sitter) and Vanessa Charnell Marshall Russell. Speaking about the photograph, she highlights how it captures the uncompromising energy and confidence of the sitter: “The expectation of being skinny as standard is relentless in Asian culture. I’ve experienced the stress of this since a very young age. I was taken by Enam’s confidence and charisma. A key component of the photo was to demonstrate self-love and being comfortable with who you are in your own body.”

© Lydia Goldblatt

Lydia Goldblatt, Eden from the series Fugue

Lydia Goldblatt was born in 1978 in London where she continues to live and work. She studied for a Masters Degree in Photography at London College of Communication. Her work has been exhibited and published internationally with group and solo shows in the UK, France, Germany, the Czech Republic, Greece, China and Malaysia. This is the first time she has been selected for the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize exhibition.

Lydia’s shortlisted portrait Eden is part of a larger series made during 2020, titled Fugue. Created with four people within a 50-meter radius of her home, the work draws on mothering and family life as a central theme, and is driven by her need to explore and respond to the fundamental themes of intimacy and distance, brought to the fore through lockdown and Covid-19. As Lydia explains: “In such close, sometimes blissful, sometimes painful proximity to my children, I am aware of all that remains unknown. We are fused and separate, elusive. The child protected but alone in her den, the perfect spring blossom, articulate a psychological suspension in which both joy and fear oscillate.”

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