Founded in 2015, the Jerwood/Photoworks Awards supports photographers to make new work and develop their practice. Following a national open call, Silvia Rosi and Theo Simpson have been selected for this year’s initiative. Over the past 12 months, they have created fresh and compelling series for the 2020 exhibition at Jerwood Arts, London. Both artists delve into notions of history – navigating themes of family, industry, identity and architecture.
Origins are central to Rosi, who draws on her Togolaise heritage in striking colour and black and white images. Encounter, featured here, interprets personal family narratives through the lens – looking at her parents’ experiences of migration from Togo in West Africa to Italy. It is partially influenced by West African studio portraiture – a style exemplified by celebrated names Seydou Keïta and Malick Sidibé.
The artist’s new portfolio also includes a visual deconstruction of head carrying techniques. This practice has its own histories, skills, rituals and aesthetics, and a powerful link to Rosi’s own family history. This body of work connects to the 2016 series Self Portrait as my Mother. After finding a collection of family studio portraits in Togo, Rosi restaged her mother’s early years as a migrant in Europe.
Theo Simpson’s images are powerful abstractions. They are hand and machine-made: engineered, laser cut and sculpted into existence. Each piece draws elements from changing urban and natural environments. Clouds, wires and water collide with slick washes of colour and geometric forms. The notion of landscape is expanded through theory, fact and myth. Simpson navigates between real and imagined worlds; pictures of human possibility, political impulses and economic transformation. This experimental practice defies definition – presenting a speculative vision of the future influenced by globalisation.
The exhibition runs 15 January – 8 March. Find out more here.
Lead image: Silvia Rosi, Self Portrait as my Mother in School Uniform, 2019.
1. Silvia Rosi, Self Portrait as my Mother, 2019.
2. Silvia Rosi, Self Portrait as my Father, 2019.