Zimbabwean photographer Tamary Kudita wins Open Photographer of the Year in the Sony World Photography Competition 2021
The World Photography Organisation is delighted to announce the overall winners in the prestigious Sony World Photography Awards 2021. The Photographer of the Year title and accompanying $25,000 cash prize and range of Sony digital imaging kit is awarded to the esteemed documentarian Craig Easton (United Kingdom) for his series Bank Top. Also announced are the ten category winners alongside 2nd and 3rd place of the Professional competition as well as overall winners of the Open, Student and Youth competitions.
Also unveiled today is a virtual exhibition of winning and finalists’ work; A Year in Photos from the Sony World Photography Awards 2021, a specially commissioned documentary feature hosted by art historian Jacky Klein and entertainer Nish Kumar; and a free digital copy of the Sony World Photography 2021 book all available to view and download via worldphoto.org/announcement-2021
Bank Top, a collaboration with writer and academic Abdul Aziz Hafiz, examines the representation and misrepresentation of communities in northern England, focusing on the tightknit neighbourhood of Bank Top in Blackburn. The project forms part of Easton’s wider work in the region including Thatcher’s Children (2nd place, Documentary Projects, 2021 Professional competition,), an investigation into the chronic nature of poverty as experienced by three generations of one family; and Sixteen (shortlisted in the Portraiture category of the 2017 Awards), a look into the dreams, aspirations and fears of 16 year-olds from all walks of life.
Bank Top is a result of the Blackburn Museum & Art Gallery initiative Kick Down the Barriers, a project instigated in response to media reports portraying the town as the ‘the most segregated in Britain’. Seeking to challenge this narrative, the museum invited artists and writers to collaborate with residents of various neighbourhoods and create a robust and authentic representation of their communities.
Over the course of a year Easton and Hafiz worked closely with local inhabitants to explore their stories and experiences through a series of black & white portraits and accompanying texts. These highlight issues around social deprivation, housing, unemployment, immigration and representation, as well as the impact of past and present foreign policy. Their work counters simplistic generalisations and aims to provide context as to how these communities came together and a better understanding of how they thrive together now.
Mike Trow, Chair of the 2021 Professional competition says: “What is so impressive about this project is the intent, dedication and understanding Craig brings to it. He has worked closely with the writer Abdul Aziz Hafiz to create a complete piece, tacitly acknowledging that for a project as sensitive as this words matter. These are not people who necessarily want to be photographed but Craig gained their trust. They look frankly to camera and we see a mutual understanding between documenter and subject. It is the moral weight behind this work that makes it so important and deserving of this prize.”
Commenting on his win Easton says: “I am delighted to have this work recognised by the Sony World Photography Awards. I photograph to learn, to try to understand and to document and share stories. It is a privilege to be able to do so and to challenge perceptions and stereotypes – something that is especially important to me. To have these stories from underrepresented or misrepresented communities in northern England where I live recognised and shared worldwide is wonderful. Thank you.”