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Alys Tomlinson

Alys Tomlinson’s (b. 1975) projects are often research-led. Alys is most interested in the relationship between people and place, exploring themes of environment, belonging, and identity.

‘Lost Summer’ began during the Covid lockdown when the artist was frustrated that she couldn’t travel to work on her existing projects. Once lockdown eased, she began to move around her neighbourhood, photographing the teenage children of local friends from her street and the surrounding area. The portraits show these young adults dressed and ready to attend their proms which were cancelled as a result of the pandemic. Instead of the usual setting of the school or hotel halls, the portraits were taken in their gardens and backyards in North London. The prom portraits capture the poignancy of a lost summer for teenagers who were unable to sit their school exams or mark this significant step in growing up and leaving school. Three works from ‘Lost Summer’ – ‘Samuel’, ‘Jameela’ and ‘Jack’ – won the 2020 Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize.

An earlier body of work ‘Ex-Voto’ explores Christian pilgrimage sites in Lourdes (France), Ballyvourney (Ireland), and Grabarka (Poland). Often placed anonymously and hidden from view, ex-votos are left by pilgrims as expressions of hope and gratitude, creating a tangible narrative between faith, person, and the landscape. ‘Ex-Voto’ encompasses formal portraiture, large format landscape, and small, detailed still-life shots of the objects and markers left behind. Shot on 5×4, large format film, the images evoke a distinct stillness and reflect the mysterious, timeless quality present at these sites of great spiritual contemplation.

‘Ex-Voto’ was followed by ‘Vera’ based around the Orthodox Christian nun whose portrait was a key image in ‘Ex Voto’. ‘Vera’ explores, in film and photographs, Vera’s life, giving a close account of the daily routine and rhythm of living in faith in the unseen world of the Saint Elizabeth Covent in Belarus. Filmed in black and white and narrated by Vera, the film gives a lyrical account of Vera’s story of finding faith as a young woman and the emotional and spiritual impact which it had on her life.

A mix of works from ‘Ex Voto’ and ‘Vera’ along with the short film ‘Vera’ were shown at the Rencontres d’Arles 2019. This exhibition won the Public Prize of the New Discovery Awards. Recently Alys (and her co-director Cécile Embleton) have received a development grant from the Sundance Institute Documentary Fund to expand Vera into a feature-length documentary.

Alys Tomlinson grew up in Brighton, UK, and currently lives and works in London. She studied photography at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design and has an MA (Distinction) in Anthropology from SOAS, University of London.

 

CV

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EDUCATION

MA SOAS, University of London, 2016
Central Saint Martins

SELECTED EXHIBITIONS

2021
Youth Rising in the UK 1981-2021, Side Gallery, Newcastle, UK.
Waiting II, HackelBury Fine Art, London, UK.

2020
Lost Summer, HackelBury Fine Art, London, UK. (Solo)
Photo London Digital, Online Art Fair.
China Jinan International Photography Biennale. (Upcoming)

2019
The Faithful, Louis Roederer New Discovery Award exhibition, Les Rencontres d’Arles, Arles, France. (Solo Exhibition)
Ex-Voto, HackelBury Fine Art, London, UK. (Solo Exhibition)
International Photographic Exhibition 161, Royal Photographic Society. (Travelling Exhibition)
Chichester Cathedral, Chichester, UK. (Solo Exhibition)
Ex-Voto, Side Gallery, Newcastle, UK. (Solo Exhibition)

2018
Sony World Photography Awards, Somerset House, London, UK.

2017
Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize, National Portrait Gallery, London, UK.
Made in Brixton, Photofusion, London, UK.

2016
Portrait Salon, London, UK.

2015
Uncertain States Annual, Photomonth, London, UK.
Emerging, Annenberg Space for Photography, Los Angeles, CA.

2014
Les Rencontres d’Arles Book Award exhibition, Arles, France.

2013
Salon/13 Photofusion, London, UK.
24, Berkeley Square, London, UK.

2012
Portrait Salon, London, UK.

2010
Open Here, Hereford Photography Festival, Hereford, UK.
Foto 8 Summer Show, HOST Gallery, London, UK.
Why We Love Photography, HOST Gallery, London, UK.

2009
Manual Focus, The Lloyd Gill Gallery, Somerset, UK.

2008
24, The AOP Gallery, London, UK.

2006
Stop Moving, Photodebut Exhibition, London, UK.
Film on Film, The AOP Gallery, London, UK.
Dead Time’ Swiss Cottage Gallery, London, UK. (Solo Exhibition)
Petites Morts, The Glasshouse Gallery, London, UK.

2005
Portfolio, The AOP Gallery, London, UK.

2004
3, Deluxe Gallery, London, UK.

2003
Exposure: Hereford Photography Festival, Hereford, UK.
The Observer Hodge Photographic Award, The Newsroom, London, UK.

 

AWARDS & GRANTS:
2020
Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize, Shortlist
Prix Elysée, Musée de l’Elysée, Nominee
Sundance Professional Grant recipient

2019
Les Rencontres d’Arles, Louis Roederer New Discovery Award, Shortlist
Les Rencontres d’Arles, Louis Roederer New Discovery Award, Public Prize Winner
Prix de la Photo Madame Figaro Arles 2019
Shortlist, Meitar Award for Excellence in Photography
Finalist, Hariban Award, Finalist (Honourable Mention)

2018
Royal Photographic Society IPE 161 – Silver Award
Sony World Photographer of the Year
Sony Professional Grant recipient
BJP/International Photography Award, Shortlist
Sony World Photography Awards, 1st Place (Discovery Category)

2017
Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize, National Portrait Gallery
Hotshoe Award/Renaissance Photography Prize, Winner
Renaissance Photography Prize, Finalist (series)

2016
SOAS Departmental Prize (Anthropology and Sociology)
London International Creative Competition, Honourable Mention
Tri-pod/Photofusion Award, Winner
Renaissance Photography Prize, Finalist (series)

2012
Creative Review Photography Annual

2010
Creative Review Photography Annual

2008
PX3 Prix de la Photographie Paris, Honorable Mention
Magenta Foundation/Flash Forward, Winner

2007
PX3 Prix de la Photographie Paris, Honorable Mention
PDN 30, emerging photographers selected by Photo District News

2006
International Photography Awards (Lucie), Honorable Mention
Arts Council England, Grant for Individuals

2005
London Photographic Awards, Winner

2003
Jerwood Photography Award, Shortlisted
Observer Hodge Award, Highly Commended
Peter Kirk Memorial Travel Scholarship

2002
EXIT Magazine, New Talent Award Winner