UWE Bristol graduate among winners of this year’s Portrait of Britain

Media Relations Team, 11 January 2024

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Ciara Hillyer photography graduate winner of Portrait of Britain
BA and MA photography graduate Ciara Hillyer

A photograph captured by Ciara Hillyer, a photography graduate at UWE Bristol, is among the 100 winning images of the UK’s biggest annual photography exhibition.

Capturing the tapestry of life, the Portrait of Britain is a public art project of unrivalled scale. The winners were selected from an open call last summer asking for images that ‘celebrate the many faces of modern Britain’, pictures that capture the country’s unique traditions and diversity.

Ciara’s portrait of two boys Isaac and Nima had been taken after a football match in Wolverhampton.

Ciara Hillyer photography graduate winner of Portrait of Britain with two boys Isaac and Nima
Ciara's image of two boys Isaac and Nima feature in the Portrait of Britain Vol. 6 photobook

Speaking to the BBC, she said: “I had gone to support a friend of mine, who has dwarfism, play football, and he introduced me to his friends.

"There is nothing contrived about the photo, it was a real honest moment between Isaac and Nima. As soon as I took it, I felt a wave of excitement because I knew it was a great image.

"The composition, the facial expressions, juxtaposition; everything aligned perfectly in that second. And the boys absolutely love it!"

Now these winning portraits, including Ciara’s photograph, will become part of a nationwide gallery, appearing on high streets, in shopping centres, train stations, airports, roadside poster sites, and iconic locations up and down the land throughout January.

“It is in each other that we see ourselves and form our sense of place,” says Mick Moore, CEO and Creative Director of British Journal of Photography, reflecting on the social value of the initiative. “Portrait of Britain captures the quirky, the mundane, the here and now of the extraordinary everyday in which we live.”

The public exhibition gives the photographers “a place to be seen and be visible in a world where so many pictures reside”, says Nadav Kander, one of this year’s judges, who is himself one of the world’s leading portrait photographers.

For Ciara, being selected as one of the 100 winners is a thrilling start to 2024 and a real boost to her career as a professional photographer after studying both BA and MA in Photography at UWE Bristol. Her final MA project ‘Breathing Space’ shined a light on her life with cystic fibrosis.

The 100 winning images from the Portrait of Britain will be exhibited on JCDecaux digital screens across the UK from 08 January, while 200 shortlisted images are featured in the Portrait of Britain Vol. 6 photobook, available now on Bluecoat Press.

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