Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2015 Goes to David Stewart

David Stewart, Five Girls 2014, winner of the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2015 © David Stewart. Image courtesy of NGA

David Stewart, Five Girls 2014, winner of the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2015 © David Stewart. Image courtesy of NPG

PHOTOGRAPHY: Winners of the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2015 announced with David Stewart, a London based photographer, winning the top prize


LONDON– David Stewart, a London based photographer has won the prestigious Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2015. The announcement was made Wednesday by the National Portrait Gallery, organizers this prestigious Photographic Portrait Prize awards. The image that won him the prize is a group portrait photograph of his daughter and her friends  titled Five Girls 2014. As the winner, David Stewart was presented with £12,000 award during  an awards ceremony in London.

Five Girls 2014, the Portrait that won Stewart the prestigious Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize for 2015 follows the growth of the photographers daughter and four of her friends. It was a follow up to the photograph the photographer took in 2008. In the original photograph  which was displayed as part of the in the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize in 2018, the portrait captures his daughter and her friends who were preparing for their GCSE. The updated version presents them as university graduates.

David Stewart’s return to the story of  his daughter and her four friends reveals a niche aspect of his photography career. A story teller,  Stewart   began his photography career photographing punk bands, including The Clash and The Ramones, and the colourful characters seen on Morecambe Promenade. Born in Lancaster, England, David Stewart graduated from Blackpool and The Fylde College. After years of studies, Stewart moved to London in 1981 and has been working on a mix of personal projects and commissions.

This year is the sixteenth time Stewart has had a photograph selected for the annual exhibition. Speaking on  winning the prestigious Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize for 2015  awards, David Stewart notes:

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.

£3,000 Second Prize: Anoush Abrar for Hector

Anoush Abrar, Hector © Anoush Abrar. Image courtesy of NGA

The second prize went to Anoush Abrar. His photograph of a young boy titled Hector won him the second prize of £3,000. Inspired by Caravaggio’s painting Sleeping Cupid from 1608, Abrar captures a boy at rest against a black background. The dramatic illumination in the manner of Caravaggio’s Tenebrism caught the judges attention.

Born in Tehran, Iran Anoush Abrar lived in Switzerland from the age of five.  Abrar whose works have exhibited in museums and galleries around the world,  studied at the University of Arts in Lausanne and has taught photography there since 2005.

Commenting on the influence of the Sleeping Cupid and the portrait that won him the award, Abrar notes: ‘Somehow I needed to make my own Sleeping Cupid. I found my portrait of Hector so powerful and iconic that it inspired me to continue this project as a series called Cherubs.’ Abrar now lives and works between London and Lausanne.

£2,000 Third Prize: Peter Zelewski for Nyaueth

Peter Zelewski, Nyaueth © Peter Zelewski. Image courtesy of NGA

Nyaueth, the photograph of a woman by portrait and documentary photographer Peter Zelewski, won the third Prize of £2,000. Zelewski took the photograph on Oxford Street whilst working on his series Beautiful Strangers. Immediately he spotted her, he knew he must capture her in time. Explaining the idea behind the Beautiful Strangers series, Zelewski explains:

The aim of Beautiful Strangers is to challenge the concept of traditional beauty with a series of spontaneous and powerful street portraits of everyday citizens who show character, uniqueness and a special inner quality, which I try to interpret in my photographs.

Born in Detroit, USA, Peter Zelewski moved to London in the late 80s and studied Graphic Design at North London Polytechnic. His fascination and love of the city drew him to the streets of London to take photographs of its citizens. While Zelewski  still practices as a graphic design, he continues to engage in the area of commercial photography and his personal street portraiture projects.

£1,000 Fourth Prize: Ivor Prickett for Amira and her Children

Amira and her Children by Ivor Prickett © Ivor Prickett/UNHCR/Panos Pictures

The fourth prize went to to Ivor Prickett for photograph of a displaced Iraqi family, who had fled their village near Mosul after Isis took control of the area. The portrait  is made up of a mother and her two children. Titled  Amira and her Children,  Prickett took the photograph in Northern Iraq in September 2014, when working on an assignment for UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees). Now based in London, Prickett, a  documentary photographer, lived and worked in the Middle East and Turkey for nearly 5 years.

On his winning entry, Prickett explains: ‘I met Amira and her family in the tent where they were living in at the Baharka camp near Erbil; they had fled their village near Mosul after Isis had taken control of the area. I spent some time speaking with Amira about what her family had gone through. As they became more comfortable with me being there they really started to express their closeness and became very tactile. It was a beautiful moment to witness in the midst of such a difficult situation.’

£5,000 John Kobal New Work Award: Tereza Červeňová for Yngvild

Yngvild by Tereza Červeňová © Tereza Červeňová

The John Kobal New Work Award  went to Tereza Červeňová for her photograph Yngvild. A portrait of the photographer’s friend, the portrait was taken the day before their friend’s wedding at Veluwe National Park in Holland.

The John Kobal New Work Award is given to a photographer under thirty whose work has been selected for the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize exhibition.  A Slovakian photographer currently living and working in London, Červeňová first moved to the city four years ago to study Photography at Middlesex University.

Červeňová  will receive a cash prize of £5,000. The award also includes the undertaking of a commission to photograph a sitter connected with the UK film industry for the National Portrait Gallery Collection. Červeňová’s work now focuses on portraiture and fine art photography.

Judged anonymously, the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2015  was judged from original prints by Dr. Nicholas Cullinan, Director, National Portrait Gallery; Dr Phillip Prodger, Head of Photographs, National Portrait Gallery; Hannah Starkey, Photographer; Anne Lyden, International Photography Curator, Scottish National Portrait Gallery; David Drake, Director, Ffotogallery, Cardiff; and Tim Eyles, Managing Partner, Taylor Wessing LLP.

The winning portraits are presently on display as part of the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2015. The show runs through February 21, 2016 at the National Portrait Gallery, London

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