National Portrait Gallery to hold Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2021 at Cromwell Place

Image: 2020 second prize winner Eden by Lydia Goldblatt © Lydia Goldblatt

Having last year migrated online due to the pandemic, the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2021 will be displayed as part of a National Portrait Gallery exhibition held at Cromwell Place.

Artworks selected from submissions to the annual photography competition will be on display at the recently redeveloped arts hub between 10th November 2021 and 2nd January 2022.

This marks the second consecutive year the show has not been held in the National Portrait Gallery, as the site undergoes a multi-million-pound overhaul as part of the Inspiring People project.

Since the National Portrait Gallery’s doors closed to the public last year, the institution has collaborated with other sites to ensure its public engagement work continues unabated.

Cecil Beaton’s Bright Young Things at Millennium Gallery in Sheffield and Tudors to Windsors: British Royal Portraits at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich are two prime examples, with both shows due to open when Covid restrictions ease next month.

The Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2021 exhibition will, however, be the first new major exhibition staged exclusively by the National Portrait Gallery since redevelopment works began.

Hosting this major show is a great coup for Cromwell Place, with the site’s membership director May Calil labelling it “a great honour to support this esteemed institution and to celebrate the work of inspiring international photographers in this exhibition”.


This year's competition

As was the case in 2020, a reduced £20 submission fee has been introduced to minimise barriers to entry. The competition is open to anyone aged 18 and over, with the top three prize winners receiving £15,000, £3,000 and £2,000 respectively.

Submissions for the international photographic portrait contest close at 5pm (GMT) on Tuesday 8th June 2021.

Last year’s edition was won by Alys Tomlinson for Lost Summer, a series of black and white portraits capturing London school leavers dressed up for their proms that never took place due to the pandemic. Second prize was awarded to Lydia Goldblatt for Eden, a portrait of her young daughter alone in her garden during lockdown, while Yolanda Y. Liou received third prize for her portrait of model, plus size advocate and Instagram influencer Enam Ewura Adjoa Asiama.

The first ever digital version of the exhibition featured 54 works from 37 different artists and was viewed by over 135,000 people.

(L) 2020 first prize winner Samuel from the series Lost Summer by Alys Tomlinson © Alys Tomlinson; (R) third prize winner Enam Ewura Adjoa Asiama by Yolanda Y. Liou © Yolanda Y. Liou

Despite the relative success of the online format, Dr Nicholas Cullinan, director of the National Portrait Gallery, says he and the team are delighted to “once again be able to offer our visitors the opportunity to view the exhibition in person”.

With last year’s show being forced online, “staging this year’s exhibition at a new gallery space at Cromwell Place will be a fillip in what has been a challenging year”, adds Shane Gleghorn, managing partner at Taylor Wessing, the law firm which has sponsored the competition since 2008.