Since being awarded Photographer of the Year in the 2018 Sony World Photography Awards Alys Tomlinson's work has been recognized across the industry. She has collaborated with leading book publisher GOST and is now represented by prestigious HackelBury Fine Art. We catch up with Sasha Hackel, co-director of the London-based gallery, to discover what it is about Tomlinson's work that appeals.
What made you add Alys Tomlinson to your gallery representation?
I saw Alys' photograph of Vera from her series Ex-Voto online and was blown away. I immediately wanted to find out more about Alys and especially see more of her work. The Ex Voto series really moved me, and I was incredibly excited by the strength of the work. I contacted Alys and asked if she would come and meet us in the gallery. It's always nerve-wracking meeting an artist with the idea of collaboration because it is vitally important to me that we are in agreement about how to exhibit the work. We met a few times and talked about Ex-Voto, how the body of work had come about, what her plans were for the work. Then we moved on to the ideal size of the photographs, the size of the editions and how Alys visualized framing her works. Having had these conversations, my colleagues and I felt comfortable that we could work together, so we asked if Alys would like to be represented by HackelBury.
Tomlinson was the recipient of the prestigious Photographer of the Year Award at the 2018 Sony World Photography Awards, did it have any impact on your decision?
Alys winning the Photographer of Year Award at the 2018 Sony World Photography Awards is a great recognition of her brilliant work. Yet for me it's all about the work and we knew we wanted to work with Alys because her work is so strong.
What can people expect to see at the Ex-Voto exhibition?
We will be exhibiting Alys' Ex-Voto series which consists of portraits of pilgrims, the landscapes in their place of pilgrimage and intimate still life images of the objects or ex-votos which the pilgrims leave behind. Each of these components are integral to the series, together giving a sense of the stillness and contemplation in the pilgrims’ journeys. Our primary focus will be on the portraits. The landscapes and the still life images ground their spiritual journey in a sense of physical place.
Tomlinson was among the artists that you presented at Paris Photo, could you share with us the feedback that you got?
This was the first time that we exhibited Alys’ work. Her work is really powerful. The portraits especially are very direct, very strong, and we were pleased with the response to them. There was both private and institutional attention. We will be building on that interest, showing Alys' work at HackelBury from March to April, at The Photography Show presented by AIPAD in New York in April and at Photo London in May. We are excited to introduce Alys' work to a wider audience.