Portrait Salon 2013, at Four Corners. Thank you all for coming – it was a great night! Photographs by Joe Plommer: http://www.joeplommer.co.uk/
Well, it’s that time of year again. The rush to printers has subsided as photographers lie in wait for that email from the National Portrait Gallery which will/will not inform them of their success in this year’s Taylor Wessing Prize.
Meanwhile, we’re busy at Portrait Salon making plans for our third year of showing rejected images from the Prize. This year will be bigger than previous years, as we will be situated in a dedicated space for a whole week. From 12 – 16 November we will be based at Four Corners, in East London, where will show a selection of the rejected images, chosen this year by: Harry Hardie from HERE Press, photographer Abbie Trayler-Smith, and Jim Stephenson, co-founder of Miniclick Talks in Brighton.
Every year we get asked why we make a selection, and the reason we do so is to maintain a high standard of work. We realise, however, that fellow photographers are curious beings and would like to get a taste of all the images which are rejected from the prestigious prize. This year, for the first time, there will be that opportunity – look out on this blog for more details on that!
As well as the launch night, which will be 12 November, we will also host a panel discussion on 14 November and a portfolio review day on the 15 November. Details will be on this blog and on our Twitter and Facebook pages.
This year we are indebted to our sponsors:
In previous years, Portrait Salon has existed as a projection at a one off event. This year, we will be stationed at Four Corners Gallery in Bethnal Green for a week. The selected work will be shown as a projection and published in a newspaper, but we will also show all the images we received which were rejected from the Taylor Wessing prize.
This year, we received almost 2,000 images from 740 photographers from around the world. Our three selectors, photographer Abbie Trayler-Smith, Harry Hardie from HERE Press, and Jim Stephenson from Miniclick Talks, had a hard time making their selection. The final 41 images for the final selection are almost half of what previous editions have featured, but Portrait Salon is as much about debating the competition process as it is about showcasing good portraiture:
“We know that everyone wants something tangible to rank their work against when entering competitions, but deep down, the truth is that we are just people who try to remain objective but who also have our own preferences and opinions. We’ve tried here to show an exploration (of sorts) of what a portrait can be, from the studio to the rolling hills of some far foreign land.”
Jim Stephenson, Miniclick Talks, on the Portrait Salon selection process.
This year’s Portrait Salon will take this debate further, with a panel discussion on 14 November. Steve Macleod from Metro Imaging, photographer Harry Borden and Eleanor Macnair from MediaSpace will discuss the nature of competitions; the judging process, their relevance in the industry and their popularity.
The exhibition will launch at Four Corners on Tuesday 12 November with a projection of the selected images. The projection will also be shown in four venues across the UK on the same night, with a live link up at 8pm. The venues are:
LONDON: Four Corners, 121 Roman Rd, London, E2 0QN
LEEDS: White Cloth Gallery, 24 – 26 Aire Street, Leeds, LS1 4HT
EDINBURGH: Document Scotland present Portrait Salon ’13 at Stills Gallery, 23 Cockburn St, Edinburgh, Scotland, EH1 1BP
BRIGHTON: Hotel Pelirocco, 10 Regency Square, Brighton, BN1 2FG, hosted by Miniclick Talks
The accompanying newspaper is designed by Stanley James, and will feature all 41 selected images, introduced by Photomonitor’s Christiane Monarchi and containing text on the selecting process by Jim Stephenson.
Tuesday 12 November: Launch and Simultaneous Projection across four venues in the UK
Thursday 14 November: Panel Discussion at Four Corners Gallery. Steve Macleod, Eleanor Macnair and Harry Borden discuss the nature of photography competitions.
Exhibition of all submitted images including projection continues until 16 November.
“Then the nations that are left round about you shall know that I the LORD rebuild the ruined places, and replant that which was desolate: I the LORD have spoken it, and I will do it”.
Nick Ballon’s portrait (below) was selected for Portrait Salon 2013 and is from his series Ezekiel 36:36*, a documentation of Lloyd Aéreo Boliviano (LAB) which is one of the world’s oldest surviving airlines. ‘Founded in 1925, it took its name from Lloyd’s of London for its image of safety and security. The airline later earned its place in Bolivian history by playing an important role in the Chaco War of 1932, when its aircraft carried the wounded to safety and transported supplies to soldiers on the front line.’
‘In 1994, LAB was privatised and sold off to a failing Brazilian airline. The company has suffered at the hands of successive administrations ever since, becoming gradually dismantled over the years. In 2007, the Bolivian government ordered it to shut down on charges of unpaid taxes and social benefit contributions, leaving over 2000 of its workers out of jobs.’
‘While all commercial flight operations have been suspended, the airline miraculously survived to the present day. LAB has become a workers’ cooperative which provides a range of aviation services, as well as operating an aircraft on behalf of another local airline. 196 employees continue to work for the struggling company, yet their salaries have been halved, and have even gone unpaid for two whole years following LAB’s collapse. Most of those who remain have continued to work for the company out of loyalty and faith. Their morale is occasionally boosted by small victories, such as their recent crowning as champions in the airport football tournament.’
‘Once an icon of modernity and progress, there’s something decidedly anachronistic about walking through their headquarters. Stray dogs rest in the security booth at the front entrance. Workers, too, can be found taking midday naps in the engine room. Metallic stairs, which in the past were used for boarding modern aircraft, now lead up to nowhere. A Boeing 767 flight simulator worth $2.5MM has been sitting unopened in a gigantic crate for the past six years.’
‘Successive self-proclaimed saviours have appeared at their doorstep offering multimillion-dollar investments and ingenious rescue packages, yet the workforce has grown disillusioned at their promises, which have invariably failed to materialise. Headed by an unlikely CEO, the current administration believes it has a master plan to bring the Bolivian phoenix back from its ashes, and take off once again in the following weeks.’
* The title refers to the name of the only aircraft LAB currently have in operation, on hire to another domestic airline (crew included). It captures the quasi-religious faith the remaining employees have in the airline, which to most outsiders would appear to be a lost cause.
“Then the nations that are left round about you shall know that I the LORD rebuild the ruined places, and replant that which was desolate: I the LORD have spoken it, and I will do it.” (from King James 2000 Bible).
Words by Amaru Villanueva Rance ([email protected]).
Nick Ballon is a documentary and portrait photographer based in the UK, whose Anglo-Bolivian heritage is an important source of subject matter and inspiration in his work, exploring socio-historical ideas of identity and place, the concept of ‘foreignness’ and belonging.
He graduated with a BA (hons) from Berkshire School of art and design in 2001, and since then has worked editorially for a number of respected international publications, including the Sunday Times Magazine, The Guardian Magazine, the Financial Times, the New York Times, El Pais and Der Spiegel.
His work has been exhibited internationally including at Rencontres d’Arles, Beijing Triennial, Guernsey Photography Festival, KK Outlet, Wellcome Trust, and NCM/Foyle Foundation. He has been shortlisted for the Taylor Wessing Portrait Photography Prize four times, and received an honourable mention for the Photographic Museum of Humanity grant.
In 2013 he self-published his first book Ezekiel 36:36 which looked at the curious and precarious existence of Bolivia’s national airline, which received much critical acclaim and was one of TIME’s best photo-books of 2013. His second book ‘The Bitter Sea’ will look at land-locked Bolivia’s painful longing to reclaim back its sea lost in a war to Chile over 129 years ago, and will be published by Trolley Books.
Nick Ballon’s book Ezekiel 36:36 is available to buy here.
James O Jenkins
Travis Hodges’ portrait of Tim Andrews (image on the right of the diptych below) was selected for Portrait Salon 2013 and is part of Tim’s photographic project ‘Over the Hill: A Photographic Journey’. Tim was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2005 and subsequently left his job as a solicitor and set upon a journey turning himself into a photographic project and has now been photographed by over 300 photographers.
‘This portrait is part of an unusual set, unusual in the sense that the subject is the curator of the series. Some viewers will recognise Tim from other photographer’s portfolios and even from the walls of the Taylor Wessing Prize itself. Some 350 fellow photographers have created a portrait of Tim making a fascinating insight into both his life and the work of so many photographers.
Beginning in 2007, when he answered an advert in Time Out from a photographer looking for a nude model, Tim has journeyed through the photographic landscape offering to model for known and unknown image makers. The project has become a way for Tim to collaborate with artists and be part of the process, it also charts his life with Parkinson’s Disease. This is something that I, like many photographers, have touched on in the image.
My image began from the idea of separating the subject from the viewer with a non physical layer designed to mirror an emotional barrier. The pattern projected over Tim becomes both separating and protecting, reminiscent of watching the rain from behind a pane of glass. We experimented with a few different projections but settled on one that reminded us of both star constellations and medical scans.’
Read Tim’s blog about the shoot here.
Travis Hodges is fascinated by people and uses his camera to explore what makes them interesting, from well-documented celebrities to those who have never stood before a professional photographer in their lives. His work, from time-pressed editorial shoots to longer-term personal projects, is people-driven and examines what makes us who we are. His client list includes Adidas, The New York Times and Virgin Media and his images are seen in magazines such as The Independent New Review, Wired and ES. Personal projects allow him to further explore the human condition and consider how people come together in tribes through common interests or habits. His projects Follow Me and The Quantified Self investigate how technology is impacting on the way we live.
His awards include the Royal Photographic Society 155th print exhibition; the Observer Hodge Award and the Jerwood Photography Award. When he’s not behind the camera, Travis organises the monthly Photo-Forum talks in central London, where working photographers can discuss and debate their images, ideas, and approaches.
James O Jenkins
Carly Clarke’s self portrait (below) was selected for Portrait Salon 2013 and is from her work ‘Reality Trauma’, a self-portrait photographic series she produced in March 2012 when diagnosed with stage 4b Hodgkin Lymphoma, a rare cancer and with a large tumour inside her right lung during her final year of a BA photography degree at Middlesex University. The portrait below is Carly on her last day of chemotherapy.
‘While I was overwhelmed with chemotherapy treatment for 6 months and the idea of possibly dying, I felt a necessity to record my journey and document my life as it changed so drastically. This led to examining not just myself, but the whole of life’s meaning on many levels. My body became a shell, limited in movement, filled with pain, while I could do nothing but hope and wait for every treatment to end. The image of who I thought I was became unfamiliar, almost alien, losing my hair and so much weight, unable to recognise the reflection in the mirror, which I avoided at all costs. The hospital staff and doctors became like a family to me. I put my trust in their hands through every biopsy and every significant event that required me to surrender to all that was beyond my control. My identity felt crushed, yet I didn’t mind because I knew this perception of a helpless human being was not really me, for inside I was strong, determined and hopeful, and utterly terrified.’
‘My life slowed down to concentrating on getting through each moment, drug to drug, endless exams, giant needles, biopsies drilling deep into bone, tubes down my throat, and hoping for some day, the pain to end. A plastic line inserted to my heart fed sickening but healing medicine through my arm, trying to kill the cancer but taking my strength with it. The cure is as dangerous as the disease, and chemotherapy takes one to the very edge of life. Rapid downhill weight loss was, the most visible threat, and my skeleton became more visible by the day, a reminder of each precious pound lost. The powerful pain killers pushed my fragile life boat even further from the shore of what was once life, nauseating and bending every sense, but I held on. Will I live through this? I did not know.’
‘A meditative focus on the small things that mattered really helped. I found much comfort talking to those in hospital of similar experiences, and spending time with family and friends. Those moments can best be recalled through the use of a single memorable photographic image. Nothing but a photograph can take me back to my time with cancer, that moment in its entirety, as if I were there again, re-living the sensations, the feelings I felt and the fears I held in my mind.’
‘These photographs evoke some painful memories for me; however they also remind me of the huge capacity of my own human body to endure through such hellish times. My body, mind and soul were tested to the ultimate ends unimaginable and I experienced life on an unbound level. This self-reflective collection of images gives only glimpses into that time but my hope is that the audience can see not just the horrifying aspects, but also the promise that being a survivor of cancer gives and the tremendous hope for others facing a similar condition.’
‘Traumatic times can be reflected upon as lessons in survival that awaken us to cherish the subtleties of everyday life and our reality that can so easily be taken for granted. The immense persistence, willpower and courage we as human beings possess when required to is sometimes overlooked. We do not give ourselves the credit for fighting some of life’s toughest battles. This period in my life, is evidence that no matter what life throws at us, we can get through it, even when words cannot explain who ‘we’ are anymore, why we are here or even what has happened to us. We are more than survivors; we are more than we think we are and capable of anything if we believe in ourselves and push those boundaries beyond limits visible. What makes us important as human beings is being able to evolve and become and to create anything in this lifetime. We must allow ourselves the credit we deserve, and see beyond the ‘now’, because anything that we believe we are now, in this very moment in time is temporary, for we are always changing and becoming something else.’
‘Change is the biggest part of our identity, of who we think we are, and my ‘self-portrait’ is a portrait of a person I perceive that I am, but only in one moment in time, and not necessarily the next. This work is a collection of moments and identities, as is the practice of photography.’
Carly Clarke is a British documentary and portrait photographer who works in medium-format photography. Documenting in a creative, cinematic style, her work looks at social issues that might otherwise go unnoticed. Storytelling through the voices of subjects she photographs is key to her work.
She has recently completed her MA in Photography and previously BA (Hons) in Photography at Middlesex University, London.
James O Jenkins
Giuseppe Lo Schiavo’s portrait (below) was selected for Portrait Salon 2013 (and used on the back cover of our publication) and is from his work ‘Ad Vivum’, a photographic series that translates from Latin as ‘to that which is alive’.
‘I have imagined this photographic series as a journey with no space-time boundaries , a bridge that links the Flemish painters such as Vermeer, Jan van Eyck, Robert Campin and even Tiziano, Antonello da Messina with digital photography; an amalgamation of the classical aesthetic with a modern medium.’
‘I wanted to create portraits without explicit time references, chronologically uncertain. In these images, warm and cold colors coexist which are diffused and distributed through the subjects – in a similar manner as in the pictorial portraits – creating sculptures, motionless subjects, smooth and stiff like marble.’
‘The Latin name ‘ad vivum’ is taken from the engravings that some painters inserted under their paintings in order to specify that the painting was painted live.’
Giuseppe Lo Schiavo was born in Italy and now lives and works in London. He studied Architecture at the University of La Sapienza of Rome and specialized in Architectural 3D Visualization. He has exhibited at The Saatchi Gallery in London, The Aperture Foundation in New York, Museum of Contemporary Art of Acri in Cosenza, Mixer Gallery in Istanbul and in galleries in Rome, Turin and Munich and Miami. He has also presented his work at art fairs such as Contemporary Istanbul, SCOPE Art Miami, The Affordable Art Fair Milan and Paratissima.
Noriko Takasugi’s portrait, ‘Fukushima Samurai’ (below), was selected for Portrait Salon 2013 and is part of her series ‘Fukushima Samurai – The Story of Identity’.
Takakatsu, 68. When it gets closer to Soma Nomaoi, he practices horse racing every 4am morning with his stable mates in the beach. His house facing the beach, destroyed and some of his horses in his stable next to the house were washed away. September 2012.
‘Since 2011, I have devoted my time to capturing the survivors of 3.11. While I am listening to their story, I could not ignore the unique spirit emerging in these people. For my project, I especially focused on the people who were once residents in the 20km radius of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. These photos are part of my long-term project that differs from the major news stories about the disaster, having been investigating the evacuees not as victims, but as part of a 1000 years old folk culture of the area and representative of Japanese identity, examining how they are surviving such hard times and fighting their fate to retain their sense of self, both as individuals and as part of a group.’
Shingo, 34. His ‘favourite house’ with an ocean view on a hill was washed away 10-meter inland by the tsunami. “All the belongings including armor for the Soma Nomaoi annual celebration and two horses that we had taken care of as family were washed away.” September 2012.
Kunihito, 40. “I lived here since I was born until the disaster occurred. Roof tiles fell off and walls cracked due to the earthquake, but the house is habitable only if the level of radiation exposure was normal.” September 2012.
‘About 18,000 people have past away or missing due to the disaster. It triggered the nuclear explosion at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant. About 230,000 are still living as evacuees. Related death in Japan is more than 3,000 including more than 1,700 in Fukushima. The majority of people who lived in Fukushima at the time are still living the life of evacuees, devoting a great deal of their time to dealing with the effects of nuclear contamination.’
Yoshiyuki, 59. His former house was also his small furniture factory. He had lived here since he was born and worked locally for more than 35 years. In July 2012, he moved all the equipment from his former home to his new one in the neighboring city, where he evacuated to and live now, to restart the furniture business. September 2012.
Masaki, 31. Masaki used to live with his three children in Odaka. After the disaster he decided to stay in the next town instead of evacuating farther afield. “Of course I worried about the radiation effects but I did not want to move too far from my town because it is the place where Soma Nomaoi is held”. September 2012.
‘Soma Nomaoi is an annual celebration of Samurai culture in Fukushima more than 1000 years old. About 2000 people died in Fukushima due to 3.11, most of who were from the area where the Soma Nomaoi is held. Despite the harsh conditions, loss of lives and loss of hundreds of their horses and much of their armory, the majority of the surviving Nomaoi Samurai warriors agreed to hold the gathering in 2011, just a few months after the disaster. It is not just an event but also an embodiment of their identity and fight for survival. Here, the samurai way of life, “Bushido”, corresponds to the concept of chivalry. This sense of identity represents how and why, they live. The Nomaoi Samurai warriors portrayed here were once residents in the area close to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. Most of them are no longer allowed to live there but they can enter the area during the day. Each of them stands in the places that had a personal meaning to them in the area in their everyday life, reviving their memories of home.’
‘Although the typical image of current Japan might be still positive with Tokyo’s high-tech buildings, to people outside Japan, the country remains a hidden world. I would like, through my photography, to show this secret part of Japan: the mentality, inner warmth and profound sense of beauty triumphing over adversity, and awe to the nature. Those secrets part are not the extraordinary things for us but accumulation of our choices in our ordinary life. Such qualities are often obscured nowadays in the world as a whole, not just in Japan. My ordinary life and Japanese root came across to these Samurai people while I am taking the light and shadow of them by my camera.’
Hironobu, 44. He took me to a horse stable that his family member and he built on his wife’s parents’ property after the disaster. “I am now taking care of several horses that did not have anyone to rely one anymore because of the disaster”. The three kids and their parents are living separately in different municipalities as an evacuee life. “It is hard to only see the kids on weekends.” September 2012.
Kunio, 65. “I used to stand in front of this kamidana (a household altar) sacred to Odaka Shrine and pray every morning when we were living here before the disaster.” He prayed when somebody in his family got sick, when his daughter-in-law gave birth and also for other occasions. Standing solemnly in front of the kamidana with gratitude as part of his daily routine was such a precious and calm moment for him. He cannot live here now but he prays to the kamidana whenever he visits here. August 2012.
Born in Japan and based in Tokyo, Noriko Takasugi graduated with an MA in Photojournalism & Documentary Photography at London College of Communication, University of the Arts London. Working as an editor for monthly graphic magazines led Takasugi to increase her passion for photography and storytelling. She has always been fascinated with connecting with people whose culture is strongly associated with the land and integrating herself with them through photography. Takasugi’s work has been exhibited widely in UK and published in The Telegraph, Independent, Wired.com. She was awarded the Konica Minolta Foto Premio 2014, selected as a finalist of PhotoQuai 2015 Biennale and a finalist of Critical Mass 2013 (Photolucida).
James O Jenkins
David Severn’s portrait ‘Ethan and his Mum’ (below) was selected for Portrait Salon 2013 and is part of a body of work that comprises two commissions by Dance4 and The Renewal Trust to photograph young people in Nottingham who are dancers with differing levels of ability.
Ethan with his Mum after Ethan’s first dance class at The Chase community centre, St Ann’s estate, Nottingham
‘The portrait that was selected for Portrait Salon 13, “Ethan and his Mum”, was shot after Ethan’s first ballet class at The Chase community centre on the St Ann’s estate. Ethan had visibly taken to the dance session and tried with impressive enthusiasm to perfect the positions he’d been taught. I approached Ethan and his Mum as they were leaving the centre and we set up the portrait on their walk home. I wanted to convey Ethan’s zealous spirit, so asked him to connect with the camera and demonstrate some of what he’d learnt. His Mum stood behind, proudly placing her hand on Ethan’s shoulder.’
Savannah, a participant in a series of outreach workshops with Birmingham Royal Ballet, presenting a ballet pose in the St Ann’s area of Nottingham.
Street dancers sat in the stalls of the Theatre Royal, Nottingham.
‘I was keen to make the portraits in various locations within the city such as the street, the community centre or the theatre, reflecting a shared community and sense of place. From young people taking their very first dance class to those with years of experience, these portraits depict a common interest among young people of diverse social backgrounds. Rather than becoming distracted by the artificiality of performance or capturing dramatic movement, these photographs present the quieter, more personal moments of creative expression and reveal the self-actualization of youth.’
Jasmine, a keen ballet dancer, outside the Sycamore community centre on the St. Ann’s estate, Nottingham.
Dancer resting between rehearsals, Nottingham Contemporary.
‘Many of the young people I photographed are from the St Ann’s area of Nottingham, a neighbourhood that is still being affected by the collapse of the local manufacturing industry and scores poorly on government measures of deprivation. During the project, Birmingham Royal Ballet ran outreach workshops at The Chase community centre in St Ann’s. I spent time getting to know the participants’ individual personalities and documenting their discovery of dance. It was striking to witness the level of engagement in the ballet sessions from the young people involved, breaking down stereotyped ideas of the art form being an elitist interest not meant for them. I made several portraits responding to the relationship between the perception of ballet and the built environment of the St Ann’s estate, posing subjects in their newly learnt ballet positions in front of social housing, shopping precincts and the community centre.’
Young people during tuition with Dance4’s Centre for Advanced Training programme
Teenagers warming up before a dance class and looking out over Wellington Circus, Nottingham.
‘The social aspect of dance is also a significant theme in the work, exploring the bond between dancers both during practice and in downtime. The familiar adolescent story of inseparable friendships, budding romances, and evolving identities plays out through the images and touches more broadly on the adventurousness and heightened emotions of young people.’
Sharmell, a street dancer, on the stage of the Theatre Royal, Nottingham
Enok on his scooter before dance class at the Sycamore community centre in St. Ann’s, Nottingham
David Severn is a documentary and editorial photographer based in Nottingham, UK. His work is concerned with working class culture and the places associated with it, both historically and today. He is particularly interested in the relationship between people, work and landscape. His current project explores life within coalfield areas in the British Midlands. David’s photographs have been exhibited nationally and internationally including at Renaissance Prize exhibition, Royal Photographic Society International Print Exhibition and Singapore International Photography Festival. He has worked on editorial assignments for numerous publications including FT Weekend Magazine, The Times and MONOCLE. Recently David was selected as a winner of the Magnum Photos “30 under 30” award, an international competition open to documentary photographers under 30 years of age covering social issues.
James O Jenkins
‘That night the blind man dreamt that he was blind.’ José Saramago.
Clare Hewitt’s portrait of Eugenie (below) was selected (and used on the cover of our publication) for Portrait Salon 2013.
‘I first started photographing Eugenie in 2011, around ten years after her life had been unexpectedly and abruptly changed by a stroke, which had left her severely visually impaired, unable to walk and talk, and with restricted memory. To this day she can’t be sure of her age.’
‘I was introduced to Eugenie through the Haringey Phoenix Group, a London based charity for blind and visually impaired people. I had approached them because I was keen to spend time with a person who had experienced one of my own fears, loss of sight.’
‘I visited Eugenie once a week for three and a half years and have observed many aspects of her self. The idea that Eugenie would not see my representation of her encouraged me to portray her as sensitively and transparently as possible, valuing all the time we spent together. In the end though, I could not help but make a body of work that is primarily my own emotional response to her adaptation. The work is a truth, whether it is hers, mine, or a blur of both.’
‘Through her own strength and the help of The Haringey Phoenix Group Eugenie’s condition has improved considerably, but her permanent visual damage and memory loss means she still struggles with the changes she has undergone.’
‘In one sense her life has become complicated, vulnerable and overcrowded with frustration. In another it is simple, repetitive and monotonous, an oiled routine. Either way it is far removed and excluded from the society she first lived in, with its warped ideals of beauty, strength and heroism. For her it is now a very different way of the same life.’
Clare Hewitt is a photographer based in London. After completing a degree in law, Clare returned to university to study photography. In 2011 her work was selected for Fresh Faced + Wild Eyed at the Photographers’ Gallery, and has since been exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery as part of the Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize. She is regularly commissioned by various publications including The Independent Magazine and Oh Comely.
James O Jenkins