A great joy of the National Portrait Gallery re-opening in 2023 after its monumental renovations is not just to view the permanent collection in its splendidly revamped home, but the opportunity to see new works. Portrait photographers aspire above all to the Taylor Wessing prize. In the interim the prize winners’ exhibition was relocated to Cromwell Place Galleries in South Kensington. So a big welcome back to the Taylor Wessing Prize at NPG in St Martin’s Place, just north of Trafalgar Square. It showcases talented young and established photographers and celebrates a diverse range of images.
Taylor Wessing Prize Photography Prize at National Portrait Gallery
15th November 2023
The acclaimed portrait photography competition, Taylor Wessing Photo Portrait Prize, has returned to its home in 2023 at the National Portrait Gallery after three years. SPHERE’s Lisa Barnard attended the preview, met several of the portrait photographers and is moved by the portraits and the stories behind them. She even met a portrait subject and had orange boots to match. Here is the SPHERE selection.
You are never quite sure what you will see when you view prize winners of a photographic competition and other selected. Photographers are invited to submit a body of work and in the final exhibition, it may be one work only or a few on display. In this exhibition there are 54 works by 25 artists, so you can do the maths on the average.
It also makes a very neat size for an exhibition in two interconnecting rooms you can circle through at NPG. I admired the prize winners: First Prize, Alexandre Silberman, Diena; Second Prize: Gilleam Trapenberg, Kisha and LaDaarayon; Third Prize Jake Green, Shaun Ryder and Carl Francois van der Linder, Chofu Lal Upside Down.
In addition to the prize-winners, I loved seeing the works of the photographers who captured so many topical subjects, from motherhood, to mental health, to displacement, to revealing self-portraits. It is an emotive journey through humanity, captured by artists. It was special so many were present when I visited and I had a chance to meet them.
It is rare that one orange-booted person meets another orange-booted person. I am the former and the latter was the subject of a portrait displayed. Our photo was taken by the photographer Roo Lewis of the image. So that’s me with the inimitable orange-clad Captain Beany, who is the curator of the world’s first baked bean museum in Port Talbot in Wales. He has many tales to tell. The photographer Roo Lewis.
Other highlights for me: the self-portrait by Jenny Lewis, so honest, raw and stripped back. I loved meeting this woman, who was genuine in her warmth and And Abraham aboard the MV Ilala, Lake Malawi by Theodore Clark. Theodore, present at the exhibition and photographed here, told me the moving story of how this series happened. It’s not complete. Stay tuned.