For the fifth year running, Arts University Bournemouth (AUB) students, staff and alumni have been honoured with nominations in this year’s Portrait of Britain.
The shortlist has recognised the photographic work and talent across both AUB’s undergraduate and postgraduate disciplines: Nick Teo and Jacob Cramp, both final-year students on BA (Hons) Commercial Photography; and from MA Photography, Akindele Ibukun.
“Being nominated for Portrait of Britain is the pinnacle of my photography journey,” says Akindele. “Leaving my comfort zone in Nigeria for the unknown in the UK, I aimed to inspire creatives from similar backgrounds that anything is possible.
“My project focuses on uniting Afrocentrism and Eurocentrism through fashion, aiming to communicate this message effectively to my audience. Coming from a background that values respecting and accepting one's tradition while having the freedom to learn about other cultures, it was surprising to encounter scepticism in England regarding trying new things, particularly due to concerns about cultural appropriation in fashion.
“I see this as an opportunity to educate people about the importance of expressing themselves more openly through fashion.”
This isn’t the first time an AUB International student has made the shortlist; last year, Aderopo Afolabi was a winner, with his image making the front cover of the Portrait of Britain book.
Also making the shortlist are AUB alumna Lisa Doyle, who graduated from BA (Hons) Photography in 2020 and then completed MA Photography the year after. She was selected as a Portrait of Britain winner in 2021, making this her second nomination.
“It feels amazing to be nominated again,” Lisa says. “The photograph selected this year is from the same series, 'Women in Sport'. It's always lovely to have my practice recognised and for an image, from a series I have been working on for over two years and am deeply passionate about, to be celebrated by others in the photographic industry.”
The series, which started as a Final Major Project on Lisa’s MA, focuses on a number of female athletes from a range of sports/disciplines, highlighting the positive and negative aspects their sport has brought into their lives.
“The photograph selected, 'Daphne – European Triathlon Champion', captures the brilliance of Daphne Belt, an octogenarian who began competing in triathlons in her 40s and has continued from strength to strength ever since,” explains Lisa. “She's the current European Triathlon Champion for her age group (80-84) but has been known to beat the times of those in younger categories.”
Rounding off the AUB nominations is MA Photography award leader Professor Paul Wenham-Clarke, who celebrates his fourth nomination in the Portrait of Britain.
Paul’s work, Mark, comes from his series There is no grief without love, which in turn was part of his exhibition When Lives Collide 2023, shown at the OXO Gallery, London in January. The exhibition marked the 30th anniversary of Roadpeace, a charity supporting the victims of road incidents.
Meanwhile the entry of current BA (Hons) Commercial Photography student Nick Teo comes from a project entitled I Am Not My Diagnosis, for which he also won Gold at the prestigious 2023 AOP Student Awards earlier in the year.
All the same, Nick describes this nomination as “incredibly surreal.”
“When I first discovered the competition and the accompanying book during the first year of my course, I used them as sources of inspiration to create my current visual style. To have my work featured in the same book less than two years later is something I never expected! As an artist who struggles with imposter syndrome a lot, Portrait of Britain has reassured me that I have what it takes to succeed in the industry, and to never sell myself short.
“I think the strength in ‘I Am Not My Diagnosis’ lies in its universal appeal. Everybody can relate to having some sort of label attached to them, whether with mental health, disabilities, race, gender, the list goes on. Nobody likes being put in a box, and my project did the opposite, giving each subject a chance to shine as individuals despite them all sharing the experience of living with a mental health condition.”
Nick's classmate Jacob Cramp's shortlisted image came from a second-year project entitled Sole, a visual study of street markets within rural Dorset. The project examined the generational gap between market sellers and how their way of life is slowly fading out.
Every year, 200 photographs make the shortlist, with 100 winners going on to be featured in the final publication.
This year’s Portrait of Britain winners will be announced on 8 January 2024, while their photos will be exhibited on digital advertising screens across the UK for a month.
“Portrait of Britain stands as an exceptional photography showcase and reflects the vibrant diversity of our nation,” says Paul Wenham-Clarke. “In the six years it has existed, it’s earned its place as one of the most esteemed photography competitions and as a result has huge numbers of submissions.
“The repeated success of our students in this competition speaks volumes about the quality of AUB photography courses and the remarkable dedication the students demonstrate in their craft.
“Portrait photography is an incredible medium to encapsulate our nation's history and our students grasp its profound potential and power in their work.”