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Photographer wins portrait prize with snap of his mother

Gail and Beaux from the series Goldie (Mother) by Pat Martin, 2018 (Pat Martin/PA)
Gail and Beaux from the series Goldie (Mother) by Pat Martin, 2018 (Pat Martin/PA)

A photographer has won a £15,000 portrait prize for images of his mother, who suffered from addiction issues throughout her life.

Pat Martin, 27, was presented with the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize for two works from his series Goldie (Mother).

By taking the photographs, Martin was able to reconnect with his mother, who has since died.

Mom (our last one) from the series Goldie (Mother) by Pat Martin, 2018
Mom (Our Last One), from the series Goldie (Mother) by Pat Martin, 2018 (Pat Martin/PA)

The Los Angeles-based photographer said: “For most of my life, I misunderstood my mother and witnessed how the world misunderstood her.

“Photographing her became a way of looking into a mirror and finding details I never noticed.

“There were always new ones to discover, and something new to hide.”

Martin went on: “I began this project when, at the 11th hour and needing to reconnect, I chose to focus where I was fearful to look.

“When I recognised I was without a document of her existence, the camera became a magnet, pulling in her direction over and over, taking one memory at a time.”

Neil from the series Love’s Fire Song by Enda Bowe 2018
Neil, from the series Love’s Fire Song by Enda Bowe, 2018 (Enda Bowe/PA)

Judges praised the portraits as “sensitive, tough and even humorous”, evoking the “fragility of human experience and the power of the photographic portrait to express loss and evoke memory.”

Irish photographer Enda Bowe, 47, won second prize for his portrait Neil, a young man photographed as part of a series on the Belfast Conway estate.

Bowe said: “I concentrated on the ordinary, the everyday…

“Free from political and geographical context, the photographs speak of longing, yearning, aspirations and vulnerabilities of young people in Belfast today.”

The Hubbucks from the series England by Garrod Kirkwood, 2018
The Hubbucks, from the series England by Garrod Kirkwood, 2018 (Garrod Kirkwood/PA)

Garrod Kirkwood, 40, scooped third prize for his photograph The Hubbucks, a family on the cusp of a holiday adventure to Whitley Bay beach in North Tyneside.

The photographer described the picture as “a cinematic scene from real life”.

He said: “This is a magical moment and portrait of a family and group of individuals that we can all relate to.”

The National Portrait Gallery, St Martins Place, London
The National Portrait Gallery in St Martins Place, London (Andrew Gray/PA)

The winning photographs were selected from 3,700 submissions entered by 1,611 photographers from 70 countries.

They will be on display at the National Portrait Gallery in London as part of the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2019 exhibition.

National Portrait Gallery director Dr Nicholas Cullinan said: “The Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2019 exhibition brings together a wide selection of works that exemplify leading approaches to the genre of photographic portraiture.”

The Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2019 exhibition runs from Thursday November 7 to Sunday February 16 2020.

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