2019 National Photographic Portrait Prize People’s Choice

The textiles scientist (2018), a black and white portrait of an elderly woman with sidelong glance and irreverent, contemplative smile has taken out the People’s Choice Award in this year’s National Photographic Portrait Prize (NPPP).

Photographer Kate Atkinson says that for the past year or so she has travelled to various parts of Australia to meet and photograph all types of people, with only one prerequisite – they had to be over 80.

Kate Atkinson, The textiles scientist, 2018

‘Ruth Baig was one of the people I met in an aged care facility in Victoria. I was instantly taken by her wit, intelligence and gorgeous hair. Ruth was well spoken, highly educated and a proud mother of two daughters. She told me tales of her solo travels to India, how she came to be in Australia, her poems that were published in the Manchester Guardian, and how she turned down a job at the newspaper in favour of studying textiles science at Manchester University,’ Atkinson said.

‘Through this project, I wanted to explore perceptions of aging, the importance of relationships and how vital they are to human existence and happiness. It is also about conversations, connections and stories. In our society, as people get older they may be treated differently or forgotten – the elderly may become seemingly invisible, but within these people are histories – exciting, incredible, rich lives… if only we take the time to ask.’

Atkinson’s portrait of her octogenarian received 1276 votes, making her the lucky recipient of a Broncolor Siros 800 L Outdoor Kit 2 valued at $7,451 thanks to SUNSTUDIOS.

One lucky voter has also won an accommodation package to the value of $2,000, courtesy of Crowne Plaza Canberra.

The National Photographic Portrait Prize 2019 is currently in its final weeks and will be on display at the Portrait Gallery in Canberra until 7 April 2019 before touring nationally.