Allie Crewe is one of the winners of Portrait of Britain 2019 with her entry, ‘Grace’ - a trans woman and medical student.
Now in its fourth year, the competition is organised by the prestigious British Journal of Photography and JCDecaux and explores the diversity of people living in Britain and the way their narratives reflect its widely unstable political and social landscapes. In 2018 there were 13,000 entries making it the largest contemporary portrait exhibition ever held, taking a national gallery of portraits out to people on the screens of JCDecaux all over the country.
“It’s really humbling to win this prestigious competition so early in my career,” says Allie. “I first met Grace when I was working on my You Brought Your Own Light portrait series and I knew immediately that I had to photograph her. Grace looks so beautiful and empowered; she has a disarming gaze that reveals understanding and compassion, and tells of adversities overcome. For this portrait of a trans woman subject to have been shortlisted in a competition that is committed to celebrating diversity and the changing face of Britain is truly wonderful.”
In the summer of 2018, Allie announced her first solo exhibition of photographic portraits, sponsored by Sparkle (the national transgender charity). The nine-week exhibition at Manchester Central Library, entitled You Brought Your Own Light, was a celebration of Allie's groundbreaking and evocative work with transgender subjects.
Having previously exhibited at the Getty Gallery and Lloyds of London. Allie’s portraits have met with critical acclaim. Described as "Highly rated, sincere, poignant and classical..." by Magnum, and as "...a terrific body of work filled with heart and empathy" by LensCulture, her work was previously shortlisted for Portrait of Britain 2017.
Her photographic portraiture recognises that there is nothing linear, defined or straightforward about femininity, or what it means to be a woman, in the 21st century. Sex and gender are not limited to the monolithic paradigm of genetics; they are informed by something intangible, and it this essence of the female paradox that makes Allie's work as relevant as it is important and which sets her apart from others in her field. Her work is characterised by a disarming authenticity evoked by the value she places in the individual, their story, and the moment.
Allie's work and sensitivity is informed by her own abusive childhood which stifled her creativity and power of expression. Overcoming these events and rebuilding her life has given her a unique insight that enables her to convey powerfully honest photographic narratives of subjects who have transformed; rediscovering themselves after battling adversity. Her insistence that her work should remain authentic, creative and kind in order to capture the truth about her subjects was the inspiration for the title of her exhibition.
The initial 12 portraits now number 26 and she is still working on the transgender series, a portrait commission for the NHS, and is the artist in residence for an LBGTQ parents group (Proud2bParents) who wish to challenge the stereotypes regarding same-sex and diverse parenting.