I Feel Relaxed When I Play with String by Erin Lefevre, Wellcome Photography Prize 2019

Wellcome Photography Prize 2019 winners announced

Wellcome Photography Prize 2019 has revealed its winners at a presentation in London.

I Feel Relaxed When I Play with String by Erin Lefevre won the Social Perspectives category and overall prize.

The tender photograph provides a powerful insight into living with autism and explores what makes us human.

Other winners explore hidden stories about disability, sex and wellbeing, the role of robots in helping care for society’s ageing populations and how researchers are identifying zoonotic diseases.

I Feel Relaxed When I Play with String by Erin Lefevre, Wellcome Photography Prize 2019
I Feel Relaxed When I Play with String, 2014, Erin Lefevre, New York, United States

Social Perspectives

Images in the Social Perspectives category explore how health and illness affect the way we live.

Erin Lefevre’s winning image is from her Liam’s World series, an ongoing project documenting the life of her brother.

Each image contains handwritten captions by Liam.

Liam has autism and finds playing with string helps him to relax.

Children on the autism spectrum can have tics or ‘stimming’ behaviours – such as hand flapping, making repetitive noises, or playing with string – that help them cope with situations when they experience sensory overload.

“More men and boys are currently diagnosed as autistic than women and girls,” said Wellcome.

“One theory suggests autism in girls may manifest differently from the ways it does in boys, which teachers, doctors and standard diagnostic tools might not recognise.

“Continued research in this area will help us all better understand how different people are affected.”

Love Givers by Simone Cerio, Wellcome Photography Prize 2019
Love Givers, 2013, Simone Cerio, Alessandria, Italy

Hidden Worlds

Images in this category reveal details hidden to the naked eye.

Winner Simone Cerio investigates social identity and marginalisation of social groups.

Debora is the first sexual assistant in Italy supporting disabled people explore intimate practices.

Repression of sexual instincts can cause psychological stress. This can particularly affect those who are not able to use their bodies fully.

By providing physical contact of the right kind in a safe environment, a trained professional can improve a person’s wellbeing, increase self-esteem, and prepare them for future intimate relationships.

“Disabled people have the same needs and desires as everyone else,” said Wellcome.

“But stereotypes and misinformation about sex and disability can get in the way of relationships and can also affect access to sexual health services.

“So better communication and education is essential to improve understanding and to ensure everyone can enjoy good sexual health and wellbeing throughout life.”

Zora the Robot Care-Giver by Dmitry Kostyukov
Zora the Robot Care-Giver, 2018, Dmitry Kostyukov, Jouarre, France

Medicine in Focus

Images in this category show health and healthcare up close and personal.

Winner Dmitry Kostyukov is a Russian visual artist and documentary photographer based in Paris.

This woman in a nursing facility outside Paris has developed an emotional attachment to Zora the robot.

There are at least 15 of these robots currently in use in healthcare settings in France, and more around the world.

Controlled remotely by a nurse, Zora can help people with communication and provide comfort and entertainment.

Some people respond very positively to interacting with Zora, others ignore it completely.

According to the United Nations, the number of people over the age of 60 will more than double to 2.1 billion by 2050.

“As populations also continue to age, there won’t be enough people in the workforce to meet the growing needs of health services,” said Wellcome.

“New technologies like Zora could help take the pressure off staff by offering alternative ways of caring for an ageing population.”

Virus Hunters by David Chancellor, Wellcome Photography Prize 2019
Virus Hunters, 2017, David Chancellor, Mpala Research Centre, northern Kenya

Outbreaks (2019 theme)

Images in this category capture the impact of disease as it spreads.

Winner David Chancellor captures scientists in Kenya screening a baboon for signs of disease.

They are testing a variety of animals, including primates, bats and small carnivores, to better understand how diseases are transmitted to humans.

This knowledge will help researchers, healthcare workers and governments prepare for emerging infections and enable rapid responses in the event of an outbreak.

A zoonotic disease can be transmitted from animals to humans, either directly or indirectly.

Researchers working on zoonotic diseases aim to identify dangerous emerging infections before they become pandemic threats.

Wellcome Photography Prize 2019

The Wellcome Photography Prize relaunched in 2018 with an open call for entries in four new categories. Social Perspectives, Hidden Worlds, Medicine in Focus and a thematic category for the 2019 prize, Outbreaks.

It received more than 6,000 entries.

This year’s winners come from a shortlist of 28. All the shortlisted images powerfully capture the impact of disease outbreaks, advances in science and medicine, and personal stories of people living with illness around the world.

The winner of each category received £1,250 and the overall winner, Erin Lefevre, received £15,000.

Lethaby Gallery, London, is hosting a free exhibition of the shortlisted and winning images until July 13. Spectrum Photographic produced framed C-Type prints.

The exhibition also features the Wellcome Photography Prize 2019 commission.

Dengue Fever – Falling Between the Cracks tells the human story of the disease and the attempts being made to tackle it.

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