One year after its debut, the UK’s biggest photography exhibition returns, putting the country’s citizens centre stage once more on digital screens up and down the land. Portrait of Britain, in partnership with JCDecaux and Nikon, gives photographers, amateur and professional alike, the chance to showcase their work across the country.
Visualised as an exhibition for the people, by the people, Portrait of Britain reached more than a third of the UK population last autumn. It returns this September with another 100 photographs showing in busy public spaces nationwide. The public will encounter the images as they go about their daily lives, displayed across JCDecaux’s digital channel of screens in places such as rail stations, shopping malls, high streets and Heathrow.
Following an open call by the British Journal of Photography, neatly 8000 portraits were entered, from which the final 100 have been chosen.
The 100 portraits capture subjects taken across the length and breadth of the country, from Jon Tonks’ picture of an Inner Hebrides islander and her hawk, to Sarah Lee’s picture of a septuagenarian surfer, photographed as she leaves the water of a Cornish beach. Among them, there are personalities, such as celebrated playwright, Tom Stoppard, the artists Antony Gormley and Tracey Emin, and from the music world, Skepta. There are also unsung heroes such as Rebecca Bruce, co-founder of a domestic violence charity, and Dr. Henry Marsh, the pioneering neurosurgeon.
But for the most part, they are ordinary citizens, sometimes photographed because they were caught up in bigger stories beyond their control, such as Corinne Jones, a survivor of The Grenfell Tower tragedy, photographed by Jenny Lewis one week on, captured against the back wall of the hotel she and her family were being temporarily housed in. “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 image life being more chaotic and out of control with no idea of what the future was going to hold. Amongst this was Corinne, a calm, polite, pillar of strength, holding it all together for her family.”
“We are delighted to be partnering with Portrait of Britain this year. The exhibition plays host to an array of stunning and versatile images, showcasing the diversity of our country. The exhibition highlights the notion of storytelling through photography and also helps to put the ordinary citizen at the forefront, championing the beauty in the every-day. Nikon celebrates its 100th Anniversary this year, so it’s an honour for us as 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 and we are thrilled to be able to support such an iconic exhibition.” – Jeremy Gilbert, Nikon UK Group Marketing Manager
“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 – and will be seen by the public as they commute, shop and socialise in cities UK-wide. We are proud that Nikon has chosen to support Portrait of Britain and look forward to bringing this exciting project to our national digital channel in September.” – Ben Maher, Sales and Partnership Director, JCDecaux
“Collectively the portraits celebrate the unique heritage and diversity of modern Britan, as much as its thriving photography culture and the myriad styles and approaches they employ in their work. Yet, as much as about tribal allegiances are on show in many of the images, each one reminds us that above all, we are a nation o