Prix Pictet: Fiona Shields in conversation with Mandy Barker and Alice Mann
26th April 2023
The monograph Collage: Women of the Prix Pictet Since 2008 was released late last year to great acclaim. Here Guest Editor and Head of Photography at The Guardian Fiona Shields talks to photographers Alice Mann (Drummies) and Mandy Barker (CROWN 2.5L) about their series and opens up the question: Can we identify female photography? Or do we agree with Eve Arnold: ‘I do think that women think differently and have something to offer that men don’t have.’
Fiona Shields is Head of Photographs at the Guardian and has over twenty years’ picture editing experience across a range of newspaper titles as well as being a curator, speaker on photojournalism and mentor within the photography community. She was Picture Editor of the Guardian for ten years before taking up the role of Head of Photography for the Guardian News and Media Group. Throughout her career she has been involved in the coverage of some of the most historic news stories of our time including the events surrounding 9/11, conflicts around the world, large-scale natural disasters, and the humanitarian crises resulting from the growing refugee numbers across the globe.
In addition she has judged numerous high profile photographic awards including World Press Photo Awards, the Sony World Photography Awards, The Carmignac Photojournalism Award, The Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize and is a regular nominator for the prestigious Prix Pictet Prize.
Mandy Barker is an international award-winning photographic artist whose work involving marine plastic debris for more than 13 years, has received global recognition. Working with scientists she aims to raise awareness about plastic pollution in the world’s oceans, highlighting the harmful effect on marine life, climate change and ultimately ourselves – leading the viewer to take action.
Barker’s work has been published in over 50 countries including; National Geographic Magazine, TIME, The Guardian, The New Scientist, and VOGUE, and also to illustrate key academic and scientific research papers about current plastic research. Her work has been exhibited world-wide from MoMA Museum of Modern Art, and the United Nations headquarters in New York, the Victoria & Albert Museum London, and the Science & Technology Park Hong Kong. Barker was shortlisted for the Prix Pictet Award SPACE 2017, the world’s leading photography award for sustainability.
Barker has taken part in key scientific expeditions to some of the remotest places in the world, crossing the North Pacific Ocean on a yacht and to Henderson Island in the middle of the South Pacific Ocean which is one of the most polluted beaches on the planet.
Engaging the younger generation is an important part of Barker’s practise to inspire change, she has been committed to teaching workshops around the world with local communities, schools, and universities, and from the Philippines to the Solomon Islands on behalf of the British High Commission.
“Art alone cannot change the world. But by bringing attention to marine plastic pollution in this way, it is hoped my work will help inform, and raise awareness about this issue of climate change, and in doing so encourage a wider audience to want to do something about it”.
Mann (b.1991) is a South African photographic artist who’s intimate portraiture essays explore notions of picture making as an act of collaboration. She aims to create images that empower her subjects and creates projects over extended periods, allowing for engaged and nuanced representations.
Her work has been exhibited internationally at numerous group shows at Red Hook Labs (NYC), Unseen Photo Fair (Amsterdam), The National Portrait Gallery and Somerset House (London), Addis Foto Fest (Addis Ababa), the International Centre of Photography (NYC) as well as at art fairs such as 1:54 London, and Paris Photo Fair. Mann’s personal and commissioned work has been published internationally including The Guardian, The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, Artsy, The British Journal of Photography, and National Geographic.
Her award winning series ‘Drummies’ exploring female drum majorette teams in South Africa, has been selected as a winner of the Lensculture emerging photographer prize (2018) and the PHMuseum Women’s ‘New Generation’ prize for an emerging photographer (2018). Four images from the series were awarded first place at the prestigious Taylor Wessing portraiture prize (2018). Mann was also the recipient of the Grand Prix at the 34th edition of the Hyeres International Festival of Fashion and Photography (2019). Her first solo exhibition of the work was at the Kunsthal Rotterdam in late 2021, when she also released her first monograph, ‘Drummies, with GOST Books.