A free exhibition showcasing the entries to one of the world’s most prestigious portrait photography competitions is coming to Sunderland.

Photographs from the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize will be on display at the Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens from Saturday 18th March till Sunday 4th June.

Organised by London’s National Portrait Gallery, the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize is an international competition which all are free to enter.

The exhibition will showcase the work of upcoming young photographers, talented amateurs and well-established professionals. All the prize winners in the competition will be featured.

The photographs will range from formal commissioned portraits to more intimate and spontaneous works capturing friends and family. The exhibition will also tell the fascinating stories behind many of the photos.

Sunderland City Council’s portfolio holder for public health, wellness and culture, said, “Sunderland is once again the first venue outside London to host this year’s exhibition. As a city bidding for UK City of Culture 2021, we should be proud of our ever-growing reputation for hosting world class exhibitions.”

“The exhibition showcases new works that have been submitted by some of the world’s most exciting contemporary photographers, and as well as the competition winner there will be more than 50 other images capturing a wide range of characters and locations.”

“I encourage everyone to take some time to go along and make the most of this fantastic opportunity to see some truly stunning photography here in Sunderland.”

The winning portrait is a picture of a schoolboy taken in Johannesburg, South Africa, by Claudio Rasano in February 2016.

The photo, part of Rasano’s series Similar Uniforms: We Refuse to Compare, explores the issue of preserving individuality in the context of school uniforms.

The photo was shot outside, in daylight, against a plain white background. The sitter was 18-year-old Katlehong Matsenen.

World Class Photography Exhibition Coming to Sunderland
The winning portrait by Claudio Rasano

Mr Rasano said, “Children themselves have been known to rebel against uniforms, especially as they approach the awkward age characterised by the need to fit in and the desire to stand out, all at the same time.”

“Some experts too have spoken out against school uniforms on the grounds that they suppress individuality and diversity.”

The exhibition will also feature photos from Gentlemen’s Club, a series by the award-winning Spanish photographer Cristina de Middel. The photos, of prostitutes’ clients, were taken in a brothel in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. As well as photographing her sitters, Middel asked them about their experience, personal histories and motivations.

The director of the National Portrait Gallery, Dr Nicholas Cullinan, said, “My congratulations to Claudio Rasano for his winning portrait of schoolboy Katlehong Matsenen, taken in Johannesburg earlier last year.”

“The quality and diversity of both the shortlist and exhibition are a testament to the engaging work being produced by international photographers. Each and every photographer who entered has contributed their part to the debate and evolution of contemporary portrait photography.”

The exhibition will feature both traditional and contemporary approaches to the photographic portrait. 57 photographs – which capture a variety of characters, settings and moods – will be displayed.

The photos in the exhibition were selected from a total of 4,303 competition entries submitted by artists from 61 countries.

Tim Eyles, Managing Partner, Taylor Wessing LLP, said, “Each winning portrait tells a different unique story and builds a genuine connection between the viewer, the subject and the photographer.”

“I hope that you will share our enjoyment of the photos in this year’s exhibition, and join me in congratulating the photographers whose portraits are featured.”


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