Photos of the block’s social life win the £ 15,000 Taylor Wessing award

A series of portraits documenting the mundane and daily affairs of life in isolation have won one of the most prestigious photographic awards in the world.

The National Portrait Gallery has named French photographer Clémentine Schneidermann winner of the Taylor Wessing 2022 Photographic Portrait Award for her Laundry Day series. The photographer, who lives and works between Paris and South Wales, wins £ 15,000.

Laundry Day’s portraits depict Schneidermann’s neighbors hanging out their laundry in the garden of their South Wales home. The socially distanced works are part of a series of photographs taken during periods of national quarantine, self-isolation and lockdown in the UK.

“These images are a response to a quiet time when getting close to strangers was very difficult,” said Schneidermann. “They talk about the duality between stagnation and the passage of time. My neighbor’s garden has become a tiny imaginary stage where from my window I documented small moments in her life ”.

The artist claimed that she was inspired by domestic spaces and household chores that are often overlooked and the ability of photography to create a “poetic narrative” from these little moments. “Photographers like Stephen Gill, Paul Cabuts or Nigel Shafran have been inspiring in how beautifully they have photographed the worldliness of our current landscapes and the non-places that surround us,” she said.

Schneidermann also spoke about the significance of his images in the shortlist for a portrait award “at a time when selfies and faces are everywhere around us. By hiding a face, I show the hidden rather than the visible: even older people are often invisible in our society, so I’m happy that these images are attracting some attention. “

The judges praised the simplicity of Schneidermann’s design and said the images evoked a strong sense of stillness and tranquility, as well as loneliness and isolation, despite the photographer’s proximity. They praised the unusual perspective of the portraits, which are close but not close enough to see the subject’s face – which they felt was “an intriguing play with the conventions of traditional portraiture.”

Second prize of £ 3,000 went to South African visual poet and activist Haneem Christian for their works Mother and Daughter and Rooted. Christian’s photography explores queerness and transness in relation to family, race and identity.

Mother and Daughter portrays Cheshire Vineyard and Autumn May, both trans female artists from Cape Town, while Rooted portrays a figure in a wooded setting, honoring “the journey back to self by seeing yourself through the eyes of a loved one”.

The third prize of £ 2,000 went to Polish-Canadian photographer and documentary artist Alexander Komenda for his work Zahid’s Son, which examines the identity and post-imperialist landscape of the Fergana Valley, which extends into Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

The three winners were chosen from 4,462 entries submitted by 1,697 photographers from 62 countries. A total of 51 portraits by 36 artists were also selected for display from 27 October to 18 December at Cromwell Place in South Kensington, while the usual National Portrait Gallery building in St Martin’s Place is undergoing redevelopment.

Chaired by Dr Nicholas Cullinan, director of the National Portrait Gallery, this year’s jury included Christina Lamb, principal foreign correspondent for the Sunday Times, photographer Siân Davey and Shoair Mavlian, director of Photoworks.

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