Portrait of jockey Katie Walsh wins Taylor Wessing photography prize

Spencer Murphy's post-race portrait of the mud-spattered jump jockey wins £12,000 prize, a year after coming third

A picture of the jump jockey Katie Walsh, looking mud-spattered, sweaty and tired, has won the photographer Spencer Murphy one of the UK's leading portrait prizes.

Murphy was named winner of the 2013 Taylor Wessing photographic portrait prize for a picture of Walsh that was taken at an advertising shoot for Channel 4's The Original Extreme Sport Campaign.

Walsh, photographed in the colours of Seabass, the horse on which she came third in the 2012 Grand National, is the daughter of Irish trainer Ted Walsh and younger sister of jockey Ruby Walsh.

Sandy Nairne, the National Portrait Gallery's director, who chaired the judging panel, said the image successfully conveyed everything that "jockeys go through and live through. It felt very powerful."

It is a constructed image rather than a documentary one. "It is always an intriguing question," said Nairne. "The prize always has this mix between what you might call documentary and what you might call constructed. There's always that range and there's always a range of responses because as you look at it as a viewer, you are thinking: how did this come about? What am I looking at?"

Murphy, a London-based photographer, was taking pictures of a series of jump jockeys at Kempton for the marketing campaign. He has said previously: "I was keen to include Katie. I wanted to show both the femininity and the toughness of spirit she requires to compete against the best riders in one of the most demanding disciplines in horse racing.

"I chose to shoot the series on a large format film, to give the images a depth and timelessness that I think would have been hard to achieve on a digital camera."

The Walsh portrait represents the seventh time Murphy has had work in the exhibition that accompanies the prize; his portrait of the actor Mark Rylance last year came third.

The 35-year-old grew up in Kent and studied at the Kent Institute of Art and Design before getting a BA in photography at Falmouth College of Arts. Other works by him in the NPG's collection include portraits of Tom Jones, Benedict Cumberbatch, Damian Lewis and Peter Crouch.

Murphy wins £12,000. Second prize went to Giles Price for his portrait of a pilgrim and her baby at the Kumbh Mela festival in Allahabad in India; and third prize went to Anoush Abrar for his portrait of Kofi Annan.

There were 5,410 submissions for this year's prize; 60 of those have been chosen for the exhibition that will run 14 November to 9 February.


Mark Brown, arts correspondent

The GuardianTramp

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