2018 Professional Competition - Photographer of the Year - Alys Tomlinson, British
'Ex-Voto' is a personal project by London-based photographer Tomlinson (age 43). The winning work encompasses formal portraiture, large format landscape and small, detailed still-life images of the ‘ex-votos’ (offerings of religious devotion) found at pilgrimage sites of Lourdes (France), Ballyvourney (Ireland) and Grabarka (Poland).
The photographer mainly explores themes of environment, belonging and identity. She recently completed an MA (Distinction) in Anthropology of Travel, Tourism and Pilgrimage and has been recognised by a number of photography prizes.
A handwritten note neatly folded and hidden in the crevice of a rock, crosses etched onto stone, ribbon carefully wrapped around piles of twigs. These are all offerings of religious devotion, known as ‘Ex-Voto’ and found at Christian pilgrimage sites worldwide. Often placed anonymously and hidden from view, pilgrims leave ex-votos as expressions of hope and gratitude, creating a tangible narrative between faith, person and the landscape. Taken at the pilgrimage sites of Lourdes, France, Ballyvourney, Ireland, and Grabarka, Poland, the project images encompass formal portraiture, large format landscape and small, detailed still-life images of the objects and markers left behind. Shot on 5x4, large format film, the images evoke a distinct stillness and reflect the mysterious, timeless quality present at these sites of great spiritual contemplation. People and landscape merge as place, memory and history entwine.