It’s hard to choose what to see and do in London sometimes. If you’re wandering around town, consider dropping in to this year’s photographic portrait prize at the National Portrait Gallery. Every piece is special in its own way, probably because it’s no mean feat to be included; the prize-winning photographs and those selected for display in this exhibition were chosen from almost 5,000 submissions entered by more than 2,200 photographers from 70 countries.
But there’s always got to be a winner, however good the others are. In November, it was announced as David Stewart, for his portrait of Five Girls 2014. A photographer who began his career capturing punk bands like The Clash and The Ramones, here he depicts his daughter with four close friends. The image mirrors a photograph he took of them seven years ago, which was displayed in a similar exhibition in 2008. In the original photograph, the friends were about to start their GCSEs but in the updated version they have just graduated from university. There’s something both poised and poignant about the portrait, simultaneously full of both the hope and confusion of youth.
Says Stewart: “I have always had a fascination with the way people interact – or, in this case, fail to interact, which inspired the photograph of this group of girls. While the girls are physically very close and their style and clothing highlight their membership of the same peer group, there is an element of distance between them.”
Second prize was awarded to Anoush Abrar’s photograph of a young boy, inspired by Caravaggio’s painting Sleeping Cupid, while the third prize went to Peter Zelewski’s photograph of a woman he spotted on Oxford Street whilst working on his series Beautiful Strangers, with Ivor Prickett’s photograph of a displaced Iraqi family taking fourth. The John Kobal New Work Award, worth £5,000, was won by Tereza Červeňová for her portrait of her friend Yngvild.
The photographic portrait exhibition runs at The National Portrait Gallery until 21 February 2016. Admission £4. www.npg.org.uk/photoprize