Portrait Salon was founded by Carole Evans and James O Jenkins in 2011 as a response to the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize. A form of Salon des Refusés – an exhibition of works rejected from a juried art show – it aims to showcase the best of the rejected images from the Taylor Wessing Prize, which is organised annually by the National Portrait Gallery in London. This year (2018) we also called for submissions of rejected work from the British Journal of Photography’s Portrait of Britain competition.
Portrait of Britain launched in 2016, following the Brexit vote, “in an effort to celebrate the nation and bring its inhabitants closer together”. This year, the competition received 13,000 entries, with 200 being selected to be part of the nationwide exhibition on JCDecaux UK billboards, and to be featured in a book published by Hoxton Mini Press.
In comparison, the Taylor Wessing Prize received 4,462 photographs from 1,973 photographers. The final 60 will be shown at the National Portrait Gallery in November of this year. These competitions are clearly popular; but is Portrait of Britain becoming the new Taylor Wessing Prize? And with hundreds of thousands of £’s being made from submissions are these competitions just about profit?
Portrait Salon exists to question the place of competitions within the photographic industry, and their role in determining current trends. By accepting submissions which have been rejected from both Taylor Wessing and Portrait of Britain, the intention is to show that there is top quality photography which is not getting the exposure it deserves.
This year there were no judges; the final selection for Portrait Salon 2018 was made by the public. All entries were on the Portrait Salon website for two weeks so that the public could vote for their preferred image. The images with the most votes will become part of the Portrait Salon 2018 exhibition and publication. The portrait with the most votes will also be announced. We’ll be announcing who has been selected by the public vote in October.
The selected images will be shown as a projected exhibition in November at a venue tbc, accompanied by a very special publication. It will be made clear at the exhibition and in the publication which images have been rejected from the Taylor Wessing Prize or the Portrait of Britain competition.
We hope that by inviting the public to vote for their favourite image, rather than an industry expert, the exhibition in November will provide a democratic view of photography entered into competitions. Portrait Salon, as an institutional critique, stands to provide an alternative perspective on contemporary photographic portraiture selected by competitions.
Our key dates:
19th September to 5th October – public vote on all submissions via our website.
October – selected photographers notified.
November – Portrait Salon exhibition and publication launch.
Thanks for listening and we hope you will take part.