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University of Hull to host major photography exhibition


Following a successful run at the National Portrait Gallery, the University of Hull is delighted to be the first gallery to show the annual Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize exhibition, one of the most prestigious photography awards in the world.

The exhibition showcases new work that has been submitted by some of the most exciting contemporary photographers and will be on display at the Brynmor Jones Library from Friday 8 February until Saturday 2 June and is open daily 10am to 5pm (and until 7pm on Tuesdays). 

The exhibition features the four photographs that won the competition taken by Alice Mann.Her portrait series on the all-female teams of drum majorettes in South Africa’s Western Province were chosen by the judges at an awards ceremony at the National Portrait Gallery, London on Tuesday 16 October 2018. 

This marks the first time in the competition’s history that the prize was awarded to a series of pictures rather than an individual photograph. Mann spent three months photographing different teams of girls across South Africa’s Western Province, beginning at the Dr Van der Ross Primary school in one of the poorer parts of Cape Town. Many of the drum majorettes, or ‘drummies’, come from South Africa’s most disadvantaged communities. Mann is a South African photographic artist based in London whose intimate portraiture essays explore notions of picture making as an act of collaboration. 

‘The images are part of a much larger body of work, which is a combination of a more documentary approach and portraits,’ says Mann. ‘These four portraits are some of my favourite images, especially the one of Riley and Wakiesha because they are so charismatic. For these girls, involvement in ‘drummies’ becomes a vehicle for them to excel, and the distinctive uniforms serve as a visual marker of perceived success and represents emancipation from their surroundings. Continuing my consideration into notions of femininity and empowerment in modern society, it was my intent to create images that reflect the pride and confidence the girls achieve through identifying as ‘drummies’.’ 

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The judges’ commented: ‘Mann’s series is consistent in its evocation of a sustained and intriguing narrative. Each sitter is precisely framed within a carefully considered composition, and the girls confidently meet the camera’s gaze. Their pristine and vibrant outfits jar with the rundown surroundings, lending a surreal and enigmatic atmosphere to the portraits.’

This year’s judging panel was Dr Nicholas Cullinan, Chair (Director, National Portrait Gallery, London); Miles Aldridge (Photographer); Shane Gleghorn, Managing Partner, Taylor Wessing LLP; Sabina Jaskot-Gill (Curator of Photographs, National Portrait Gallery, London); Renée Mussai (Senior Curator, Autograph ABP) and Sophie Wright (Global Cultural Director, Magnum Photos).

The exhibition will also feature previously unseen prints from a new body of work by Japanese photographer Rinko Kawauchi. The prints will form the fourth In Focus display, an annual showcase for new work by an internationally renowned photographer, which will be exhibited alongside the photographs selected from the competition entries. Kawauchi is a Japanese photographer whose work came to prominence with the simultaneous publication of three books:Hanako (a documentary of a young girl of the same name), Hanabi (which translates as ‘fireworks’) and Utatane (a Japanese word that describes the state between wakefulness and sleepIn 2002 Kawauchi was awarded the Kimura-Ihei-Prize, Japan’s most important emerging talent photography prize, following the publication of her first photobooks. As well as being the recipient of the International Center of Photography’s eminent Infinity Award in the Art category in 2009, Kawauchi’s photography was shortlisted for the 2012 Deutsche Börse photography prize and the Prix Pictet in 2016. 



‘What was particularly striking about this year’s entries to the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize, was the variety of approaches, techniques and styles of the photographs submitted from around the world. I hope that the works selected for the exhibition continue to inspire and engage visitors with photographic portraiture today.’  Dr Nicholas Cullinan, Director, National Portrait Gallery, London

Shane Gleghorn, Managing Partner at Taylor Wessing LLP, says: ‘The diversity of perspectives that come from the portraits each year is fascinating to see. There are images that take your breath away. The variety of portraits entered is amazing, encompassing photographs from around the world that display a vast range of approaches and techniques, and shots that range from the spontaneous to the artfully constructed. This made selecting the prize winners this year even more difficult, but also a great pleasure."

John Bernasconi, Director of Fine Art at the University of Hull, said: ‘We’re delighted to be hosting the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize and are thrilled that the University will be the first place outside of London where the exhibition is shown. Bringing exhibitions like this to the region is a clear reflection of the University’s commitment to continuing the legacy of Hull’s year as UK City of Culture in 2017.’

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