Lockdown Laundry Portraits Win Prestigious Photography Award

Laundry Day #3 was photographed from the photographer's window (Clémentine Schneidermann)

Laundry Day #3 was photographed from the photographer’s window (Clémentine Schneidermann)

Images of an elderly woman hanging out her laundry during lockdown have won the prestigious 2022 Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Award.

Two of Clementine Schneidermann’s portraits from her Laundry Day series documented her neighbor’s daily life in South Wales, while navigating quarantine.

The photographer, who lives between Paris and South Wales, wins £15,000.

The works are part of a series of photographs taken during times of quarantine, self-isolation and national lockdown in the UK.

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

The judges praised the simplicity of the project, for “capturing the quiet mundanity of domestic chores”.

Laundry Day documented the daily life of Schneidermann's neighbor in South Wales, while navigating quarantine (Clementine Schneidermann)

Laundry Day documented the daily life of Schneidermann’s neighbor in South Wales, while navigating quarantine (Clementine Schneidermann)

They said in a statement on Tuesday that the images “evoke a strong sense of stillness and calm, but perhaps also loneliness and isolation, despite the photographer’s proximity.”

They also praised the “unusual perspective” of the portraits, which are “close, but not close enough to see the sitter’s face”, creating “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 entries explore queerness and transness in relation to race and identity, and the importance of chosen family.

Mother and daughter by Haneem Christian (Haneem Christian)

Mother and daughter by Haneem Christian (Haneem Christian)

Mother and Daughter portrays Cheshire Vineyard and Autumn May, both of whom are trans-female artists from Cape Town, while Rooted depicts a figure in a woodland setting, honoring “the journey back to self by seeing oneself through the eyes of a to be expensive”. .

Alexander Komenda won third prize of £2,000 for Zahid’s Son, a portrait that examines themes of post-Soviet identity and landscape in Kyrgyzstan.

What is the Taylor Wessing Prize?

The Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize is an annual photo portrait prize awarded by the National Portrait Gallery in London.

The award is an open competition accepting submissions from amateur and professional photographers around the world.

It was established in 2003 as the Schweppes Photographic Portrait Prize.

This year, the three winners were chosen from 4,462 submissions submitted by 1,697 photographers from 62 countries.

A total of 51 portraits by 36 artists have also been selected for display from October 27 to December 18, at Cromwell Place, South Kensington, as the National Portrait Gallery’s usual 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, chief foreign correspondent of The Sunday Times, photographer Siân Davey and Shoair Mavlian, director of Photoworks.

Who is Clementine Schneidermann?

The winner, Schneidermann, is a French photographer, living and working between Paris and South Wales.

As a social documentary photographer, she has a particular interest in communities. Her website describes her work as “collaborative and playful.”

She said her Laundry Day series was meant to “document micro-events that deal with the passage of time through the small moments of our daily lives.”

The photographer intended to capture the everyday by focusing on a daily task, noting how “the beauty of photography is creating magic from the simplest moments”.

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