National Portrait Gallery 'Hold Still' Winner 2020


I’m absolutely thrilled to announce that after entering one of my photographs into the National Portrait Gallery’s Hold Still: A Portrait of our Nation competition, it was chosen to take part in the digital exhibition.


Spearheaded by The Duchess of Cambridge, Hold Still invited people from across the UK to submit a photographic portrait which they had taken during lockdown. From over 31,000 submissions, a selection panel, including The Duchess, the Gallery’s Director Nicholas Cullinan, author and broadcaster Lemn Sissay, Chief Nursing Officer for England Ruth May, and award-winning photographer Maryam Wahid, chose 100 images for the exhibition.

The Hold Still exhibition launched on the National Portrait Gallery’s website on 14th September. They said “The final 100 portraits create a snapshot of the UK over the past few months and reflect resilience and bravery, humour and sadness, creativity and kindness, and human tragedy and hope. A selection of these photographs will also be shown in cities across the UK later in the year.”

My photograph In Family We Trust is of my Grandad on the doorstep of my parents’ house wearing a mask. He loves having his photograph taken so when I asked him if I could take some of him, he accepted without hesitation. Here is the blurb that I submitted along with the photograph:

My 86-year old Grandad is a survivor of the Hungarian Uprising and took asylum in the UK in 1956. Even though he's lived here for all these years, English is not his first language, and the information in the media about Coronavirus does not always translate. It is up to us, his family, to disseminate this news into advice he can understand. It is us he turns to for information on keeping safe and we value this sense of responsibility to care for him. We are the ones to explain that we can't hug him and that he has to wear a mask, and he can't have his hair cut. In us, he trusts.

At the time I took this photograph of my Grandad, he was, along with everyone else, blissfully unaware that he had Cancer. He got diagnosed a few weeks afterwards and now my relationship with this photograph has changed; it has become more treasured. I’m even more overjoyed that he’s made it into this amazing project.

I have never felt more creative in my life than during lockdown. I used the extra free time for an overdue exploration of art and making, as before now I felt I had neither the time freedom nor mental freedom to do so. In Family We Trust is part of a Covid-themed photo series I made to document a year that will no doubt go down in history.

I also created and launched artist/maker brand Nina Bombina, where I design cards featuring black and brown characters as they are often underrepresented in the greetings card industry, which can be found on Moonpig, Thortful and Etsy, and are coming soon to Funky Pigeon. I also make custom digital graphic portraits, prints, and polymer clay earrings.

I am available for press interviews – email ninaphotographymail@gmail.com.


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© 2018 by Nina Robinson