A portrait of a woman who was the victim of serious burns scarring has been chosen as the winner of this year’s People’s Choice Award in the National Photographic Portrait Prize.

KAHA, 2022; © Bruce Agnew.

The portrait shows Vicky, a Maori burn victim whose injuries left her in a coma for eight weeks. Originally, Agnew (who is from New Zealand) had been looking for a subject with a tā moko, which is the Maori tattoo.  Vicky contacted him with the message “I’m a little, been a little bit burnt.” At the time the photograph was taken she was in the middle of numerous surgeries to relieve the scarring. However, as Agnew found: Vicky’s a pretty amazing lady, pretty tough, I think in her words. The photograph depicts her “warrior spirit”, with the bun carving around her neck representing the two children, who are coming back into her life. She remains active in charity work in prisons and with troubled teens.

The exhibition is open daily until Monday 2 October 2023 at the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra. Click here for more information.