Sony World Photography Awards 2021 winner Craig Easton portrays an “authentic” Blackburn
Easton has won Photographer of the Year for his Bank Top project, documenting the tight-knit Blackburn communities described by mainstream media as “the most segregated in Britain”.
- Jenny Brewer
- 15 April 2021
The winners of the Sony World Photography Awards 2021 have been unveiled, with UK-based photographer Craig Easton winning Photographer of the Year – and its accompanying $25,000 cash prize – for his series Bank Top. The organisation has also named the winners of its 10 professional categories, as well as its student and youth prizes, and open competition, which was won by Zimbabwean photographer Tamary Kudita. Kudita is the first African to win Photographer of the Year in the open competition, for her image African Victorian which probes into stereotypical contextualising of the Black female body.
Easton’s series, created in collaboration with writer Abdul Aziz Hafiz, focuses on the tight-knit neighbourhood of Bank Top in Blackburn. It was originally created for Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery’s initiative Kick Down the Barriers, made in response to media reports portraying the town as “the most segregated in Britain”. Easton and Hafiz worked with local residents to tell authentic stories of their lives and experiences through black-and-white portraits and accompanying text, and in turn examine the misrepresentation of these communities. The chair of the professional competition jury says: “What is so impressive about this project is the intent, dedication and understanding Craig brings to it,” and that the “moral weight behind this work,” makes it important and deserving of the prize.
Kudita’s winning photograph shows a young Black woman wearing a Victorian dress and holding traditional Shona cooking utensils. The photographer says the image “pays tribute to the contemporary being who is also rooted in history”. She says that winning the award is “a testament to the role we play as creators in shaping visual culture,” and with African representation central to her practice, she says she is “thankful to have received the opportunity to put Zimbabwean art on the map”.
In the other professional categories, Laura Pannack won the Portfolio prize for her portraits exploring Brexit, the Black Country and young British naturists. Vito Fusco won the documentary category for his project exploring the pyrethrum flower, known as the “flower of death,” cultivated in the hills of Nakuru in Kenya as a natural insecticide. Simone Tramonte won the environment category for her series on Iceland and its pivot to becoming a world-leading nation in renewable energy. And Syrian photographer Anas Alkharboutli won the Sport category for his project Sport and Fun Instead of War and Fear, which documents a village karate school near Aleppo helping children with and without disabilities overcome the traumas of war.
View all the winning images via the online gallery.
GallerySony World Photography Awards 2021 winners
Copyright © Craig Easton, 2021
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Jenny is currently on maternity leave.