This year marks the third annual Portrait of Britain exhibition. As much a showcase of photography as it is a celebration of our nation, Portrait of Britain is the largest contemporary portrait exhibition ever held.
And for the first time since the exhibition’s inception, British Journal of Photography has produced a book in collaboration with Hoxton Mini Press, containing the 200 shortlisted entries, from which the 100 winners have been chosen.
Among the winning photographs is Kovi Konowiecki’s portrait of East London twins, Dick and Clark – Kovi’s second winning Portrait of Britain image in the competition’s three-year history. In 2016, Kovi’s portrait of Shmuley, a young Orthodox Jewish boy, was also selected. “It is always cool to be a part of an exhibition with such a wide-reaching audience,” says Kovi. “Having been selected for Portrait of Britain a couple of years ago, it was amazing seeing my photograph across numerous screens and tube stations on my daily commute. It feels great to be a part of the exhibition again.”
Joining Kovi in the exhibition is John Davis, whose photograph of his cleaner and good friend, Felicia, is among the selected entries. It depicts Felicia in her national Ghanaian dress and was inspired by John’s wish to celebrate Felicia and her West African heritage. “We got talking about her home and her life in Ghana, and I had the idea to photograph Felicia in her national dress, in a very simple environment,” he explains.
Heather Shuker’s portrait of a young girl named Annie in a field with her sheep, was captured in the UK’s most northerly point, Shetland, which is closer to the Arctic Circle than it is to London. “I am thrilled to be selected for Portrait of Britain and will use this opportunity to progress a number of portrait projects and ideas I currently have in development,” Heather says of the inclusion of her image in the exhibition.
This year welcomed a staggering 13,000 portraits, whittled down by our judging panel, which included Simon Bainbridge, the editorial director of British Journal of Photography; Caroline Hunter, picture editor at The Guardian Weekend magazine; Magnum photographer Olivia Arthur; and Martin Usborne, co-founder of Hoxton Mini Press. The selection of images aims to reflect the diversity of modern Britain.
Portraits not to be missed include Alexander Fleming’s photograph of Roy taking his African grey parrot for a stroll along a Devonshire beach, and Euan Myles’s portrait of a Nigerian marine biologist named Daniel, now working in Sutherland in northern Scotland.
All these and more will appear on JCDecaux screens throughout September, spanning the length and breadth of the country. This is our third year presenting Portrait of Britain on JCDecaux screens, and turning this powerful digital channel into a national gallery of portraits. “Digital Out of Home’s reach and scale provide the perfect platform to showcase this inspiring and unique exhibition, which celebrates multiculturalism and diversity throughout the country,” says JCDecaux, “and it can be enjoyed by people as they shop, travel and socialise in cities nationwide.”
Let us know your favourite portrait by posting on social media using the hashtag #portraitofbritain.
Portrait of Britain 2019 will launch on 12 February 2019. More details to be revealed soon.