Alice Mann has been awarded the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2018 for her portrait series focusing on the all-female teams of drum majorettes in South Africa’s Western Province. The £15,000 award was presented to the London-based South African photographer at an awards ceremony at the National Portrait Gallery, London on Tuesday 16 October.
This is the first time in the competition’s history the judges have awarded the first prize to a series of four pictures rather than an individual photograph.
Mann began the project at the Dr Van der Ross Primary school which is situated in one of the poorer parts of Cape Town. Many of the drum majorettes featured in the series come from South Africa’s most disadvantaged communities.
Speaking about the project and the winning works, Mann said: “The images are part of a much larger body of work, which is a combination of a more documentary approach and portraits. These four [winning] portraits are some of my favourite images, especially the one of Riley and Wakiesha (pictured above) because they are so charismatic.
“For these girls, involvement in ‘drummies’ becomes a vehicle for them to excel, and the distinctive uniforms serve as a visual marker of perceived success and represents emancipation from their surroundings.”
The judges of the 2018 prize, a panel including Dr Nicholas Cullinan, chair (director, National Portrait Gallery, London) and photographer Miles Aldridge, added:
“Mann’s series is consistent in its evocation of a sustained and intriguing narrative. Each sitter is precisely framed within a carefully considered composition, and the girls confidently meet the camera’s gaze. Their pristine and vibrant outfits jar with the rundown surroundings, lending a surreal and enigmatic atmosphere to the portraits.”
The winner of the £3,000 Second Prize is Enda Bowe, an Irish photographer based in London, for his photograph of a London mother holding her baby; part of Clapton Blossom, an ongoing collaborative project with Gillian O’Brien. Joint Third Prize winners, each receiving £2,000, are Max Barstow and Joey Lawrence.
The winning portraits are on display at the National Portrait Gallery as part of the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2018 exhibition until 27 January 2019.
1. Alice Mann, Wakiesha Titus and Riley Van Harte, Cape Town, South Africa, 2018. From the series Drummies by Alice Mann. © Alice Mann
2. Alice Mann, Tanique Williams, Cape Town, South Africa, 2018. From the series Drummies by Alice Mann. © Alice Mann