Awards, Exhibitions, News, Portrait, Portrait of Britain

Portrait of Britain returns to screens across the UK this September

Portrait of Britain 2017 will launch on September 1 and run for the whole month on JCDecaux digital screens in shopping centres and commuter hubs across the UK, such as at St Pancras International. Pictured is Lewis Khan's featured entry of nurse Gina, taken in the Operating Theatres at the Chelsea & Westminster Hospital. © Lewis Khan

Following a successful launch last year, the British Journal of Photography is pleased to announce that the Portrait of Britain will return to digital JCDecaux screens across the UK this September, bringing 100 new photographs of life across the country.

What is the face of modern Britain? At a time of global uncertainty and political wrangling for our country’s future it is a question that is both pertinent and difficult to answer. However, the launch of the British Journal of Photography’s second annual Portrait of Britain will showcase 100 portraits that celebrate our diversity, cultures and shared national identity away from any political or divisive rhetoric.

Launched as an exhibition by the people, of the people and for the people, this year’s Portrait of Britain received nearly 8,000 entries from which the final selection of 100 images have been chosen. They will now be displayed in busy commuter hubs and shopping centres from 1-30 September, in partnership with JCDecaux, the advertising firm, and Nikon, the photography giant.

The winning entries this year capture what it means to be British today, from life on the islands of the Inner Hebrides to the beaches of Cornwall, but also highlight the photographic talent and range of portraiture styles from professional and amateur photographers alike.

Certain portraits are traditional and formal in their execution, such as Rory Lewis’ image of Captain Anani-Isaac, serving in The Royal Lancers regiment of the British Army, or Charlie Edwards’ photograph of Karl Rawlings from Birmingham, which features on our cover this year.

Others reveal more intimate or casual moments of people going about their everyday lives such as Harry Borden’s image of a family holiday at Washfield Weir in Devon, or Frederic Aranda’s portrait of a young family surrounded by the chaos of their daily lives inside their London home.

Birmingham-born with Jamaican and Kittitian heritage, Karl Rawlings is a model, chef, student, sneaker fanatic, and Power Ranger superfan who is able to dance to any song. He’s kind, happy, and always supportive. Featured in Portrait of Britain 2017. © Charlie Edwards

Young family, London. Featured in Portrait of Britain 2017. © Frederic Aranda

Ruth Barratt lives on Easdale Island, one of the slate islands off the west coast of Scotland. Situated in the Firth of Lorn, it is the smallest permanently-inhabited island of the Inner Hebrides with a population of around 60 people, and a handful of hawks. Featured in Portrait of Britain 2017. © Jon Tonks

British culture is an undertone of all the photographs, whether demonstrated by the Working Men’s Clubs of former coal and mining regions as shown by David Severn, or captured in Adrian Lambert’s shot of Stephanie Leake at work at Jack Badger Ltd, a traditional heritage joinery company in Derbyshire.

Sometimes, this Britishness is shown through people that recall a different era, with Rita Platts’ image of photographer Ali Salih Adalier at his studio in Stoke Newington, where faded photographs adorn the windows, or Brian Galloway’s portrait of Jack, an 87-year-old whose property in Wandsworth Town has remained unaltered in decades.

Regardless of profession or place, the most endearing element of all the images is the fact that these are ordinary people going about their lives across the UK. Of course, some of the people featured are personalities; among them celebrated playwright, Tom Stoppard, the artists Anthony Gormley and Tracey Emin, and from the music world, Skepta.

Amongst the portraits are unsung heroes and inspirational members of our societies and communities, such as Rebecca Bunce, co-founder of a domestic violence charity, Dr. Henry Marsh, the pioneering neurosurgeon, and Andy Woodward, who is working with the Football Association to make football a safer sport following recent sex abuse scandals.

Roland Bray, a 24-year-old English drag queen from Truro in Cornwall. This image is part of the series Drag Her By The Pussy, inspired by the political climate during the election of Donald Trump in the USA. Featured in Portrait of Britain 2017. © Thea Geldi

Stephanie Leake joined Jack Badger Ltd, a traditional heritage joinery company based in Glossop, Derbyshire, as a design intern to develop her skills working with various woods. During her time there, the company encouraged and supported her submission of a piece of work which she named Pantori into the national Wood Awards 2016. The submission was expected to be placed into the student category but was actually entered into the standard industry Bespoke category, and won. The overview given on the Wood Awards website reads: “Inspired by the Japanese Wabi-Sabi aesthetic that embraces simplicity and naturalness, Pantori is a freestanding pantry larder, created for Japanese crepe eatery, Noja.” Here Stephanie is practicing her hand-planing technique in the Jack Badger workshop, in a shoot commissioned by the Nottingham Trent University. Featured in Portrait of Britain 2017. © Adrian Lambert

Photographer Ali Salih Adalier at his closed down Kibris Studio on Green Lanes, London. Taken as part of an ongoing project on the Green Lanes community in Stoke Newington.  Living locally, I always loved the shopfront colours, and the sentiment on the door – ‘Pictures Do The Talking’. The window display also has a wonderful selection of old faded portraits. At first Mr Salih seemed apprehensive to be photographed, but after sharing our stories of life as a photographer he was comfortable enough to pose for me. Mr Salih used to have a successful portrait studio in Mayfair, and told me of all the prestigious people he photographed back in the day. Now all his old cameras are packed up in boxes back in his family home in Cyprus.  Featured in Portrait of Britain 2017. © Rita Platts

Rebecca Bunce, women’s rights campaigner and champion for the disabled. Photographed in London. Featured in Portrait of Britain 2017. © Rebecca Bunce

Although this is a selection of individual images, some come from wider works, series, or in relation to news stories. The portrait of Corrine Jones, taken by Jenny Lewis, for example, came in the wake of the Grenfell Tower tragedy, as the photographer elaborates.

“I don’t think I’ve ever felt more responsibility to show the strength of a person and to create an appropriate image to reflect their story,” says Lewis. “You can’t imagine life being more chaotic and out of control with no idea of what the future was going to hold. Amongst this was Corrine a calm, polite, pillar of strength, holding it all together for her family.”

Corrine Jones is a testament to the spirit of British society, which is something this exhibition wants to celebrate and promote, as Simon Bainbridge, the Editorial Director at the British Journal of Photography, explains: “Collectively, the portraits celebrate the unique heritage and diversity of modern Britain, as much as its thriving photography culture and the myriad styles and approaches they employ in their work. Yet, as much as our tribal allegiances are on show in many of the photographs, each image reminds us that above all, we are a nation of individuals.”

In the same manner as last year, the images will be on display as public art in public spaces across the country, putting the people and their stories centre stage. The digital gallery will be featured across JCDecaux’s digital network of screens for the month of September in iconic locations such as Birmingham’s Bullring and Liverpool One and major commuter hubs, such as King’s Cross, St Pancras, Manchester Piccadilly and Edinburgh Waverley to name a few.

Ben Maher, Sales and Partnership Director at JCDecaux, was excited about the launch of the latest edition, saying, “This is the second year of Portrait of Britain, a unique exhibition that turns our national channel of portrait screens into a national gallery of portraits. These powerful photographs show a wonderfully diverse view of Britain, capturing people at work, at rest, in family groups and alone, in times of happiness and introspection.”

Support this year comes from Nikon, the photography brand, who have partnered with Portrait of Britain to mark their 100th anniversary. “It’s an honour for us, a leading imaging brand, to support such a pivotal celebration of photography to help mark the occasion. The selection of winning images are testament to the uniqueness of our country,” says Jeremy Gilbert, Marketing Manager for Nikon UK.

The winning images from the exhibition can be seen
 at portraitofbritain.uk and many of them will be available to buy as art prints from gallery.portraitofbritain.uk. A selection of the images will also be included in the October print issue of the British Journal of Photography.

Corrine, one week after Grenfell. I was asked to take a portrait of Corrine Jones one week after she survived the Grenfell tragedy. Her eldest son, aged 9 years old, had woken her up when he heard screams and smelt smoke; she managed to get him and her younger son, aged 7, down the 17 stories from their flat to safety. Eight minutes later, the stairwell was impassable. I don’t think I’ve ever felt more responsibility to show the strength of a person, and to create an appropriate image to reflect their story. Corrine and I worked on this portrait on a back wall of the hotel in which they were temporarily housed, in a slot between police interviews and meetings with the council and other survivors. You can’t imagine life being more chaotic and out of control, with less idea of what the future was going to hold, but Corrine was calm and polite, a pillar of strength holding it all together for her family. Her husband and kids felt uncomfortable with being photographed, but Corrine felt it was important the public knew what was going on. I hope that by being in Portrait of Britain, this portrait gives voice to her story again. Featured in Portrait of Britain 2017. © Jenny Lewis

Home, from the series Looking for Alice, 2014. Featured in Portrait of Britain 2017. © Sian Davey

This portrait of Sylvana, a menswear fashion stylist, was taken in Berwick Street Market, Soho, central London, as part of my street portraiture project Beautiful Strangers. The project is made up of a selection of portraits taken in the many neighbourhoods of London, showing the broad and diverse range of ethnicities, cultures and styles that make up life in the capital. Featured in Portrait of Britain 2017. © Peter Zelewski

Jo Mansfield, a club singer performing at Mansfield Woodhouse Ex-Servicemen’s Club, from the long-term project Thanks Maggie. The series focuses on the culture and social life in the former coal mining regions of Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire. Social clubs and Working Men’s Clubs were once thriving venues attended mostly by workers and their families. Today, a club entertainment scene still exists but the venues are in decline and their audiences are dwindling. Featured in Portrait of Britain 2017. © David Severn

Gina, portrait taken in the operating theatres at the Chelsea & Westminster Hospital. From a body of work produced during an artist residency at the same hospital. Featured in Portrait of Britain 2017. © Lewis Khan

Outdoor swimmer, educator and photographer, Vivienne Rickman-Poole, photographed in Snowdonia. Featured in Portrait of Britain 2017. © Francesca Jones

Portrait of Britain 2017 can be seen on JCDecaux screens across the UK this September, similar to this bus stop in South London. © Brock Elbank

Portrait of Britain 2017 can be seen on JCDecaux screens across the UK this September, similar to this bus stop in Edinburgh. © Thomas Morgan

Portrait of Britain 2017 can be seen on JCDecaux screens across the UK this September, similar to this screen at Grand Central, Birmingham. © John Russell

Portrait of Britain 2017 can be seen on JCDecaux screens across the UK this September, similar to this screen in South London. © Sian Davey

Portrait of Britain is made possible through partnership with JCDecaux and Nikon. Logo © JCDecaux

Portrait of Britain is made possible through partnership with JCDecaux and Nikon. Logo © Nikon