The other portrait show

  • © Julia Fullerton-Batten

    © Julia Fullerton-Batten

Founders of Portrait Salon, a modern day Salon des Refusés, speak to BJP ahead of this year's edition

Founded by photographers Carole Evans and James O Jenkins, Portrait Salon is an annual exhibition showcasing a selection of images that have been rejected from the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize (TWPPP).

Following the announcement of the shortlist for the 2011 National Portrait Gallery-run prize, Evans and O Jenkins “noticed a wave of disgruntled photographers on Twitter who had been rejected.” The founders decided to launch the prize as they were convinced there would be strong work among the rejected images, given that such a small percentage of the submitted works is selected for the prize.


The idea is based on the first Salon des Refusés that was staged by artists who were rejected from the 1863 Paris Salon. However, as Evans and O Jenkins point out, many rejected works went on to gain significant notoriety, a prime example being Édouard Manet’s Déjeuner sur l’herbe. “This goes to show that juried art shows don’t necessarily reflect the views of the public or predict what will become memorable”, the founders comment.

In assembling the judging panel, O Jenkins and Evans were keen to avoid appointing figures who regularly appear on the “judges circuit.” This year’s panel comprises Christiane Monarchi, editor of Photomonitor; photographer and founder of Hoxton Mini Press, Martin Usborne; and Emma Taylor from the Creative Advice Network, a business which offers advice to those working in the creative industry.

From nearly 1200 works that were submitted, the panel selected 70. Monarchi comments that this year’s submissions revealed, “many fresh portraits, engaging with all types of subjects.” In particular, the judges were surprised by the originality and strength of portraits of young people, the elderly and the disabled, says Monarchi.

“There’s a larger, more interesting set of portraits to be seen from the 99% that the TWPPP rejects”, says O Jenkins. “The work we publish in Portrait Salon is far more varied and perhaps more representative of contemporary photography today.”

The 2014 edition of Portrait Salon launches on 06 November at Four Corners gallery in London and will tour to Fuse Art Space, Bradford; Oriel Colwyn in North Wales; Napier University in Scotland; and as yet unconfirmed locations in Birmingham and Bristol.

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