Artistic License: Enda Bowe

The Irish photographer has been shortlisted for for the prestigious TAYLOR WESSING Photographic Portrait Prize 2019, organised by the National Portrait Gallery …

Neil from the series Love’s Fire Song by Enda Bowe 2018 © Enda Bowe

Since it began in 1993, the annual Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize is one of the most prestigious photography awards in the world and showcases new work by some of the most exciting contemporary photographers. The winner of the first prize will receive £15,000. The second prize winner receives £3,000 and the third prize £2,000.

Enda Bowe is one of three photographers shortlisted for the Portrait Prize. The young Irish photographer lives in London, and his work is concerned with storytelling and the search for light and beauty in the ordinary. He has exhibited at Red Hook Gallery, New York, The V&A Museum, London, Fotohof, Salzburg and in Ireland at the Douglas Hyde Gallery, Dublin, and VISUAL Centre for Contemporary Art. “Neil” from his series “Love’s Fire Song” was photographed at the Conway estate, Belfast. “l concentrated on the ordinary, the everyday. The photographs use a saturated colour palette with only subtle symbolisms, and without reference to the specific locations they were taken. Free from political and geographical context, the photographs speak of longing, yearning, aspirations and vulnerabilities of young people in Belfast today.”

The Hubbucks from the series England by Garrod Kirkwood 2018 © Garrod Kirkwood

Judged anonymously, the diversity of styles in the exhibition reflects the international mix of entries as well as photographers’ individual and varied approaches to the genre of portraiture. Other shortlisted photographers include Garrod Kirkwood who is inspired by the environment and its inhabitants. His work “The Hubbucks” is from the series “England”, depicting a family and group of individuals we can all relate to.

Gail and Beaux from the series Goldie (Mother) by Pat Martin 2018 © Pat Martin

Photographers were encouraged to submit works as a series in addition to stand-alone portraits, and there was no minimum size requirement for prints. American photographer Pat Martin submitted “Gail and Beaux; Mom (our last one)” from the series “Goldie (Mother)” . Martin uses photography to connect with personal memories and says of his portrait. “For most of my life, I misunderstood my mother and witnessed how the world misunderstood her. Photographing her became a way of looking into a mirror and finding details never noticed. There were always new ones to discover, and something new
to hide.”

Need to Know: The prizes for the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2019 will be announced on Tuesday November 5, the exhibition will open on November 7 – February 16 2020. Tickets are from £6; www. npg.org.uk.

Penny McCormick

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