Alice Mann has won the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2018 for her portrait series on the all-female teams of drum majorettes in South Africa’s Western Province. The £15,000 award was presented to the South African photographer at an awards ceremony at the National Portrait Gallery last night.
For 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 spent three months photographing different teams of girls across South Africa’s Western Province, beginning at the Dr Van der Ross Primary school in one of the poorer parts of Cape Town. Many of the drum majorettes, or "drummies", come from South Africa’s most disadvantaged communities.
"The images are part of a much larger body of work, which is a combination of a more documentary approach and portraits," says Mann. "These four portraits are some of my favourite images, especially the one of Riley and Wakiesha 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. Continuing my consideration into notions of femininity and empowerment in modern society, it was my intent to create images that reflect the pride and confidence the girls achieve through identifying as ‘drummies’."
The judges’ commented: "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 for his photograph of a London mother holding her baby, part of an ongoing collaborative project with Gillian O’Brien entitled Clapton Blossom that focuses on the residents of a housing estate in Clapton, east London.
The joint winners of the Third Prize, each receiving £2,000, are Max Barstow for his double portrait of a pair of shoppers taken in London and Joey Lawrence for his photograph of a child from a remote village in the jungle of Sierra Leone’s Eastern Province.
The winning portraits will be on display at the National Portrait Gallery, London as part of the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2018 exhibition from 18 October 2018 to 27 January 2019. You can book tickets online.