The winners and finalists were announced in a YouTube Live event this evening, 28 July 2021. Hosted by science, natural history and environmental broadcaster Liz Bonnin, the ceremony featured filmed contributions from the photographers and judges.
Jameisha Prescod and Yoppy Pieter have been announced as the winners of the Wellcome Photography Prize 2021. Prescod wins for her single image 'Untangling', while Pieter wins for his series 'Trans Woman: Between Colour and Voice'. They both receive £10,000, plus £1,000 for their category win. Four other category finalists, each winning £1,000, were also announced.
Returning for its third year, the Wellcome Photography Prize tells provocative visual stories about the health challenges of our time, combating taboos, bringing complex medical issues to life and showing how health affects society. The 2021 prize covers three topics of interest which reflect Wellcome’s three worldwide health challenge areas – mental health, global heating and infectious disease.
Winner of the single image prize and the Managing Mental Health single image category for her image 'Untangling'.
Prescod is a London-based filmmaker and journalist. Her work focuses on exploring social and cultural intersections of the chronic illness experience through film, video, photography and audio production. Her winning photograph, Untangling, is a self-portrait depicting how the forced isolation of lockdown exacerbated her depression and confined her to her room. “It’s where I work a full-time job, eat, sleep, catch up with friends and most importantly cry,” she says. Before long, she felt like she was “drowning in the clutter”. For escape, she turned to knitting, which she says helps to soothe her mind. Although it may not be a cure, it does at least put “everything else on pause” for a while.
She said of her win: “I would like to say thank you so much to the Wellcome Photography Prize. This is an absolute honour. I would also like to thank my family and especially my grandfather who bought me my first camera. It’s really hard to talk about mental health and I guess it’s especially hard to turn a camera on yourself to expose some of the deepest and darkest, but I’m glad that even taking it, I guess, could touch on something that a lot of us have been going through in this pandemic. And that’s been really hard, so, I just want to say thank you.”
Winner of the series image prize and the Fighting Infections series image category for 'Trans Woman: Between Colour and Voice'
Pieter is a visual storyteller and educator based in Jakarta, Indonesia. In 2018, Pieter and friends founded Arkademy, an educational platform which promotes the use of photography as a creative medium to critique the relationships between self and society. The series 'Trans Woman: Between Colour and Voice' shows the many obstacles which trans women face in Indonesia. From difficulty gaining employment to accessing healthcare and other government services, all of their difficulties have been made much harder by Covid-19.
Jeremy Farrar, Director of Wellcome and Wellcome Photography Prize Chair
Both the winning entries moved the judges and initiated debate, we couldn’t help but discuss them at length. Covid-19 and mental health are components in both, but what captivated us all was the powerful human stories at the very centre – viewed through a lens of compassion.
Other four category finalists
The expert panel of judges from across the fields of photography, medicine and science also chose finalists for each category from a shortlist of 90 photos by 31 professional, amateur and student photographers from 15 countries.
The other category finalists, who each receive £1,000, are:
- The Big Fish by Morteza Niknahad, Iran from the Managing Mental Health (series) category. Inspired by a local Iranian myth, Niknahad reimagined his mother’s long-standing depression as a fish-like monster inside of her, a constant enemy to struggle against.
- The Time of Coronavirus by Aly Song, China from the Fighting Infections (single image) category. Taken in Wuhan, China, near to where the pandemic first started, Song shows volunteers from the Blue Sky Rescue Team, the largest humanitarian NGO in China, disinfecting the Qintai Grand Theatre.
- Climate Cost by Zakir Hossain Chowdhury, Bangladesh from the Health in a Heating World (single image) category. The image depicts a man, Haibur, salvaging belongings from the wreckage of his house, three months after Cyclone Amphan hit Bangladesh. Like many others, he remains homeless, taking shelter wherever possible. He has nowhere to cook and nowhere to grow crops, and medical treatment is hard to come by.
- An Elegy for the Death of Hamun by Hashem Shakeri, Iran from the Health in a Heating World (series) category. The series shows the Sistan and Baluchestan province in Iran. Once fertile, the region is now turning into a desert, bringing drought, hunger, unemployment and mass emigration, showcasing the rapid effects of climate change.
The winners were selected by Jeremy Farrar, Director of Wellcome, and a panel of eight judges:
- Dr Dixon Chibanda, Associate Professor at the University of Zimbabwe Clinical Research Centre, and Director of the African Mental Health Research Initiative
- Johannah Churchill RGN, Photographer and Primary Care Nurse
- Joycelyn Longdon, MRes and PhD at the University of Cambridge and Founder of ClimateInColour
- Dr John Nkengasong, Director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention
- Azu Nwagbogu, Founder and Director of African Artists' Foundation and LagosPhoto Festival
- Dr Charles Ogilvie, Strategy Director of COP26 and multimedia artist
- Brett Rogers OBE, Director of The Photographers' Gallery
- Dr Kateřina Šrahůlková, Psychologist and Mental Health Specialist with Médecins sans Frontières.
Read more about the judges and judging criteria.
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Wellcome Photography Prize is delivered by Wellcome, an independent charitable foundation supporting science to solve the urgent health challenges facing everyone. We support discovery research into life, health and wellbeing, and we’re taking on three worldwide health challenges: mental health, global heating and infectious diseases.