Liz Hingley Prix Virginia

Congratulations to Liz Hingley for being chosen as the winner of the 2012 Prix Virginia, a new prize for women photographers which she read about in Le Journal de la Photographie, where I also read the news of her award.

I first became aware of her work when I saw her fine project Under Gods – stories from the Soho Road,  on Lensculture – and it was published as a book by Dewi Lewis – and this study of the various religious communities along two miles of road in Birmingham was one of two outstanding pieces of work at this year’s London Photography Festival.

The prize came for her ongoing project The Jones Family which was also published in Le Journal last year. The work also gained her a Getty Editorial Grant in 2011. You can also see it on the Prix Virginia site as well as on her own web site.

The Jones Family, begun in 2010 and continuing, looks at the experience of “genuine deprivation within the context of a wealthy country“, the UK where “for 3.9 million children … severe poverty is a fact of life.” The two parents and seven children live in a 3-bed council house in Wolverhampton, having refused to move to larger accommodation because of the “many memories” the house holds for them.

It isn’t a story of desperation, although in some respects the conditions are desperate. The eldest son of the family managed to get to university and then set up a business from his shared bedroom, and the eldest daughter has found love, moved out and is now a mother. Despite being a story about cycles of poverty, it is also a story full of hope and pride and graft in difficult circumstances, pictures that should make some of our unthinking and unfeeling millionaire politicians eat their often callous words. These are images with a real human warmth and with a great eye for atmosphere and detail.

The Prix Virginia is supported by Le Monde magazine who will publish a portfolio of her work in their Nov 2 issue. As a part of the prize she also  gets the opportunity to photograph a city of her choice for Éditions be-pôles who are the publishers of the book collection Portraits de Villes. She also gets  10,000€ and a show in this years Mois de la Photo at the Hôtel de Sauroy from October 19 to November 30, 2012 which I hope to see when I’m in Paris next month.

Sylvia Schildge writes on the Prix Virginia site:

Why a prize for a woman photographer ?

The women of my family were my foundation: Virginia, my pianist grandmother, my great-aunt painter, and my sculptor mother fed my curiosity about art from my earliest childhood. Having elders like them opened a path for me as a creative artist.

The Prix Virginia is a way for me to demonstrate my support for the recognition of women photographers. It is also a way of sharing the passions that were handed down to me.

The competition for the prize was certainly a tough one,  with 434 entries from women in 45 countries. Ten of them particularly impressed the judges, and their work will be presented one every other month from January 2013 up until the next Prix Virginia is awarded in 2014.  The ten are:

Carolle Benitah (France), Caroline Chevalier (France), Jen Davis (USA), Noemie Goudal (England), Cig Harvey (England), Jin Hyun Kwak (South Korea), Laurence Leblanc (France), Dorothée Smith (France), Marie Sordat (France) and Laurence Von der Weid (Switzerland).

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