Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2010Posted: February 9, 2011
Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2010 – National Portrait Gallery.
I included my first thoughts on this in an earlier more general post (Reflections) but recent feedback from my tutor has made me realise realised that I should have given it a more distinct category. Here it is again.
My husband went up to London today with a friend and called in at the exhibition. He brought back the accompanying book, which has the winning and short-listed photographs together with those of other exhibitors. It’s nice to handle and look at.
Writing of the photographers in the foreword to the book, Lucy Davies states, ”The best kindle a charge of emotion – that person isn’t really there, but your brain responds as if he or she is, and floods you with warmth, or repulsion.” (2010, p. 3).
My immediate responses
1st Prize ‘Huntress with Buck’ David Chancellor:
I immediately took in the russet tones in this image but my eyes went straight to the dead buck on the horse and I thought, “What a cruel picture”. I didn’t even notice the girl on the horse to begin with. I think I assumed it was a man. Then I read the description that this is a 14-year-old girl called Josie Slaughter who is an experienced hunter from Birmingham, Alabama. She flew to South Africa with her parents in order to kill her first African animal. I think I got so caught up in my emotional response that I didn’t linger over the image and turned the page fairly quickly. When I went back to it I was more aware of the girl on the horse, her beauty and her straight gaze.
2nd Prize ‘Portrait of my British Wife’ – Panayiotis Lamprou
I found it a challenging image. I recalled reading about it a few weeks ago without really taking in what the controversy was about. A beautiful, pale and Madonna like face (reminded me of a Modigliani painting) juxtaposed with an exposed lower torso, which is explicit in physical detail. My eyes kept travelling up and down, not knowing where to settle. This wasn’t embarrassment just that each aspect was fascinating but I couldn’t concentrate on either because of the pull of the other. The young woman is gazing at the camera but with a slightly sideway’s view, as if she is gazing into space and maybe thinking of other things. I felt slightly disconnected from her. The coolness is accentuated by the blue tones.
All of the other photographs are excellent in their own way but I particularly liked two of them. “Wafa” by Felix Carpio from his series Syria. Again a beautiful young woman wearing dark clothes and a green headscarf. All that is visible are her face and her hands. To me it is a serene, peaceful image. The other portrait is of a Haitian woman by Ramin Talaie. An elderly lady standing by a tree, with her hand on its trunk. She is wearing a red dress, with a purple belt and there is an air of pride about her.
I sent off to the Gallery for postcards which are now in my paper logbook. I don’t think that postcard size does them justice at all and, additionally, they have a matt surface. To me, the ‘Huntress with Buck’ would be better on a gloss surface as this would bring out all the red tones and also the shininess would enhance the idea of blood and killing. I will add to this entry when I have been to look at the exhibition.