Shane Gleghorn


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Shane Gleghorn


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21 April 2021

National Portrait Gallery to stage Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2021 at Cromwell Place arts hub

Gallery announces plans for new physical exhibition as it calls for entries for the 2021 prize.


The National Portrait Gallery is to stage the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2021 exhibition at Cromwell Place, a new arts hub in South Kensington, London from the 6 November 2021 until 2 January 2022, while the Gallery’s building in St Martin’s Place is closed until 2023 for major redevelopment works. The announcement comes as the Gallery invites submissions for the international photographic portrait competition from Wednesday 21 April until 17.00 on Tuesday 8 June 2021

The exhibition at Cromwell Place will be the first new major exhibition staged exclusively by the National Portrait Gallery since works began on the Gallery’s transformational Inspiring People project in summer 2020. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2020 was shown as a virtual exhibition on the Gallery’s website. During closure, the Gallery has organised a number of exhibitions in partnership with other museums and galleries, including Cecil Beaton’s Bright Young Things at Sheffield’s Millennium Gallery and Tudors to Windsors: British Royal Portraits at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, both due to open in May this year.

The Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize celebrates and promotes the very best in contemporary portrait photography. The competition is open to everyone aged 18 and over from around the world. Photographers are encouraged to interpret 'portrait' in its widest sense, with "photography focused on portraying people with an emphasis on their identity as individuals". The winner of the competition will receive £15,000, with second prize receiving £3,000 and third prize £2,000. 

The National Portrait Gallery’s Photographic Portrait Prize, sponsored by international law firm Taylor Wessing since 2008, is one of the most competitive photography awards in the world and showcases the work of some of the most exciting and cutting-edge contemporary photographers. Since the international competition began in 1993, it has established a reputation for creativity and excellence, with works submitted by a range of photographers, from leading professionals to talented amateurs and the most exciting emerging artists.

The Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2020 was won by Alys Tomlinson for Lost Summer, her series of black and white portraits of London school leavers dressed up for their proms, which were cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. Second prize was awarded to Lydia Goldblatt for Eden, a portrait of her young daughter alone in her garden during lockdown. Yolanda Y. Liou was awarded third prize for her portrait of model, plus size advocate and Instagram influencer, Enam Ewura Adjoa Asiama. The online exhibition featured 54 portraits from 37 different artists and was viewed by over 135,000 users. 

To enter the 2021 competition photographers are required to upload their image(s) via the website. All images will be viewed anonymously and digitally by a panel of judges who will collectively select the prize winners and works for exhibition. 

For the seventh year running, entrants to the competition are being encouraged to submit works as a series, either a group of individual portraits based on a particular theme, or two or more photographs that form a single portrait when shown together, in addition to stand-alone portraits. One series of photographs submitted to the competition may be chosen by the judges to be exhibited in its entirety.

Dr Nicholas Cullinan, Director, National Portrait Gallery, said: "We are delighted to be able to stage this year’s Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize at a new gallery space in Cromwell Place and to once again be able to offer our visitors the opportunity to view the portraits selected for the exhibition in person. Despite the challenging circumstances, we have seen some extraordinary portrait photography emerge from across the world during these unprecedented times and I look forward to seeing this year’s entries."

The Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize continues to inspire photographers throughout the world and we're looking forward to seeing the new entries this year. For many years, working together with the National Portrait Gallery, we have helped to create a platform that showcases the best in photographic talent, and staging this year’s exhibition at a new gallery space at Cromwell Place will be a fillip in what has been a challenging year.

Shane Gleghorn | Managing Partner, Taylor Wessing

The entry fee for the competition will remain at the new lower rate of £20, introduced in 2020. Full information about how to enter, including entry forms and rules, can be found online here.

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