Pat Martin wins Taylor Wessing prize for intimate portraits of his late mother

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Pat Martin has won this year’s Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize for two photographs from his series about his late mother, Goldie (Mother). The £15,000 award was presented at a ceremony this evening at National Portrait Gallery (NPG) in London, and the winning images will be on display at  NPG from 07 November 2019 until 16 February 2020.

The Los Angeles-based photographer used portraiture to reconnect with his mother, who struggled with addiction throughout her life. “For most of my life, I misunderstood my mother and witnessed how the world misunderstood her,” explained Martin in a statement provided by the NPG. “Photographing her became a way of looking into a mirror and finding details I never noticed.” 

© Pat Martin

The judges were unanimous in their praise of Martin’s work as a sensitive yet humorous engagement with his subject, and the photographer’s ability to capture the struggle and pride of his mother, which they felt illustrates the power of the portrait to express loss and evoke memories. Three further portraits from the series have been included in the display at the judges’ discretion to show the complexity of feeling expressed in Martin’s work. 

© Enda Bowe

Among the runners up is Irish photographer Enda Bowe, who won the second prize of £3,000 for his portrait Neil, from a series exploring youth culture on either side of the Belfast peace lines. The third prize of £2,000 was presented to Garrod Kirkwood, for The Hubbucks, an image of a family on route to Whitley Bay beach, England. Kirkwood’s image was also one of the winners of British Journal of Photography’s Portrait of Britain award this year.

© Garrod Kirkwood

The Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2019 exhibition will be on display at National Portrait Gallery, London, from 07 November 2019 until 16 February 2020. Anders Petersen is currently exhibiting his work in Shot in Soho, at The Photographers Gallery, London, until 09 February 2019

Marigold Warner

Marigold Warner joined the British Journal Photography in April 2018, and currently holds the position of Online Editor. She studied English Literature and History of Art at the University of Leeds, followed by an MA in Magazine Journalism from City, University of London. Her work has been published by titles including the Telegraph Magazine, Huck, Gal-dem, Disegno, and the Architects Journal.