LONDON.- The 2008 Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize has been won by Lottie Davies, 37, for her portrait which was inspired by her friend Caroline's nightmare that she gave birth to quintuplets. Drawing on classical imagery of the Madonna and Child, Davies also took inspiration from several visits to the National Gallery, replicating the darkness and colours found in Caravaggio and Titian to portray the 'calm and serenity of motherhood, as well as the feeling of imprisonment.' Rather than asking Caroline to pose, she used a model, Alicia Clarke, to allow 'more freedom to interpret the story, unclouded by the representational aspects of portraiture.'
The £12,000 award was presented to the British-born photographer at the National Portrait Gallery, London, last night (Tuesday 4 November).
Davies' first-prize winning photograph is part of an ongoing series Memories and Nightmares, a personal project for which Davies asked several friends to send her written accounts of either an early childhood memory or a nightmare. 'We all have our own tales and myths which we use to tell our lives. In some ways, a person can be described as the total of all their stories and experiences,' she says. 'Nightmares are similar to early memories in that they can be so intense that the recollection sometimes lasts all one's life. When this happens, they become a marker, an event in a person's life, and as such, become part of them and their personal history.'
The portrait was shot using a Horseman 5 x 4 in a near derelict building in East London. Marla, Alicia's 10 week old niece, modelled as the Quints and was photographed in multiple frames later combined in post-production to achieve the final image. 'I still enjoy traditional portraiture but I do think there is space to play with and expand on the idea of representation of people and of things. That, to me, is the purpose of image-making' she says.
Born in 1971, Davies has worked as a photographer for the past eight years. In a diverse career she has worked on assignments ranging from reportage features on the Kalahari Bushmen for the Telegraph Magazine to illustrating recipes for chef Gary Rhodes cookery books. A desire to resist being pigeonholed led Davies to create this series of work.
The following artists have also been commended in the Photographic Portrait Prize and receive the following prizes:
£3,000 Second Prize: Hendrik Kerstens for Bag. Hendrik Kerstens was born in the Hague, Netherlands in 1956. Winner of the 2001 Dutch Panl Award Kerstens is a self-taught photographer who initially turned to a model close at hand, his daughter, Paula. Since 1995 Kersten's work has been exhibited in over 40 exhibitions across Europe and the United States, recently opening his first solo New York exhibition at the Witzenhausen Gallery. In his portraits Paula is always depicted as being austere, serene and illuminated with a characteristic Dutch light. Kersten's short-listed portrait was conceived in New York when he noticed the excessive amount of plastic bags given away in shops. As a humorous reaction to this environmental problem he photographed the plastic bag in the style of a seventeenth century cap.
£2,000 Third Prize: Catherine Balet for Ines connected with Amina (from the series Connected). Born on the outskirts of Paris in 1959, Balet graduated from the Ecole des Beaux Arts, Paris and began her career as a painter. Since 1998 she has progressively turned towards photography and works as a freelance photographer for French and International publications. Specialising in portraiture, her first book, IDENTITY, was published by Steidl in Sept 2006 and examines the social and aesthetic significance of signs, labels and dress codes of European teenagers. Ines connected with Amina is the first image from a new series called Connected which explores the themes of intimacy, technology, and globalisation.
£1,000 Fourth Prize: Tom Stoddart for Murdoch Reflects (commissioned by Time Magazine)
Born in 1953 Tom Stoddart began his photographic career on a local newspaper in his native north-east England. During his time as a photojournalist he has witnessed the war in Lebanon, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the election of President Nelson Mandela, the bloody siege of Sarajevo and the wars against Saddam Hussein in Iraq. Established as one of the world's most respected photojournalists, Stoddart works closely with Getty Images, to produce powerful photo essays on the serious world issues of our time. His shortlisted portrait is of Rupert Murdoch in his office at News International in Wapping to illustrate a story in Time magazine about his $5 billion acquisition of the Dow Jones & Company.
THE GODFREY ARGENT AWARD
Vanessa Winship is the winner of the 2008 Godfrey Argent Award, also announced last night, which this year acknowledges the best black and white portrait. Winship receives £2,500 for her portrait Sweet Nothings which was taken in the East Anatolia region of Turkey where she lived for several years.
This winning portrait is from a series of portraits inspired by a government campaign to educate rural girls. Winship visited a dozen schools to produce forty-five images of girls posing with their sisters or closest friends.
Born in 1960, Winship's own childhood was spent in Lincolnshire where she developed an interest in black and white photographs of her family. This youthful fascination has continued into her own projects which are exclusively black and white. 'For me, it feels strange that people associate black and white photography with reality and truth' she says. 'Yes, I am trying to be honest in my work, but I am not presenting it as reality. It is very much a two-dimensional representation of my perception of something.'
Currently represented by Agence VU, Winship gained a BA in Film, Video and Photographic Arts from the former Polytechnic of Central London and studied for a postgraduate Diploma in Photojournalism at the former London College of Printing. In 2003 she moved to Istanbul from where she documented life in Turkey and neighbouring countries for her first book of reportage, Black Sea, published in 2007.
This is the first year that the European Law Firm, Taylor Wessing LLP, have sponsored the Prize. The judges selected 60 portraits for the exhibition from 6,758 submissions entered by 2,705 photographers from around the world. This is the largest number of submissions ever entered for the prize, with 167 more entries than last year.
Sandy Nairne, Director of the National Portrait Gallery and Chair of the judges, says: 'Lottie Davies has produced a brilliantly imaginative portrait image. A worthy winner of the first Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize. My congratulations go out to all the prize-winning and selected photographers.'
Michael Frawley, Managing Partner of Taylor Wessing LLP says: 'Taylor Wessing has been proud to sponsor this prestigious exhibition. The quality of submissions was outstanding and our congratulations go to Lottie Davies and all of the prize-winners. It is awards such as this that encourage the development of photographic talent and the pursuit of excellence, which are two goals close to Taylor Wessing's heart.'