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Images of South Africans living in poverty win 'conflict art' prize

Alexia Webster’s portraits were selected from 300 entries for the first-ever Artraker award

Participants pose for their portraits at a makeshift outdoor photography studio in Du Noon, a small township in Cape Town, South Africa. Photo: Alexia Webster

Alexia Webster was named the winner of the inaugural Artraker prize, the world’s first award for art about conflict. She received her award, which comes with a £2,500 honorarium, on 21 September, the United Nations International Day of Peace.

Webster won for her photographic portraits of South Africans living in poverty on the outskirts of cities like Cape Town and Johannesburg. “I set up an outdoor photographic studio on a street corner with a portable photo printer,” she says. “We invited anyone who wanted to sit and pose for free, and then we gave them the photograph. It’s been very successful. Every time we do it, we have at least 200 people come.”

Her entry was selected from among 300 submissions sent in from 90 countries, with a shortlist including artists who worked in Colombia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Syria. The award was presented by the former BBC war correspondent Martin Bell in a ceremony at Goldsmiths, University of London. Webster’s next project is to photograph Tanzanian and Chadian refugee camps.

The Artraker prize fund was founded in 2012 by the India-born graphic designer and artist Manali Jagtap-Nyheim through her firm International Conflict and Security Consulting.

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