The James Barnor Foundation, based in the United Kingdom, was initiated by Ghanaian photographer James Barnor in 2020. Its aim is to improve access to education and artistic training, the preservation of African cultures, and wishes to highlight African cultural talents.
The Foundation’s first project was the creation of the James Barnor Prize. Launched in 2022, this annual prize rewards a mid-career African photographer, and focuses each year on a different region of the continent.
A pioneer of Ghanaian photography, James Barnor has always asserted his desire to put his work at the service of new generations of African photographers. Now aged 94, he continues to influence many contemporary artists and wanted to realize this spirit of transmission through an annual prize dedicated to African photographers.
Organized according to a six-year cycle, the prize rewards each year an artist from a different region of the African continent: the first edition of the prize, in 2022, was dedicated to West Africa, and rewarded Beninese photographer Sènami Donoumassou.
This desire to focus on African photography, relatively rare in the field of photographic prizes, stems from the objectives of the James Barnor Foundation, organizer of the Prize: support for African culture and education, training, and the promotion of new generations of African artists.
Accompanied by a grant of €10,000, the Prize awarded by the James Barnor Foundation aims to reward the careers of established photographers and lead them towards recognition.
Edition #2 – 2023 : East Africa
In April 2023, the Foundation called on a panel of personalities from the world of photography and contemporary African art to nominate the candidates for the second edition of the Prize: Juliette Agnel, Lyle Ashton Harris, Christine Barthe, Armelle Dakouo, Laure De Becker, Kami Gahiga, Sana Ginwalla, Margaux Huille, Alicia Knock, Armelle Malvoisin, Owanto, Ozi Uduma and Rakeb Sile.
These experts therefore made it possible to bring together a list of 18 photographers residing in East Africa: Stacey Gillian Abe (Uganda), Emmanuelle Andrianjafy (Kenya), Salih Basheer (Sudan), Girma Berta (Ethiopia), Mimi Cherono Ng’ok (Kenya), Saad Eltinay (Sudan), Gladys Kalichini (Zambia), Ala Kheir (Sudan), Tamary Kudita (Zimbabwe), DeLovie Kwagala (Uganda), Mário Macilau (Mozambique), Pierrot Men (Madagascar), Cedric Mizero (Rwanda) ), Félix Mula (Mozambique), Alick Phiri (Zambia), Felana Rajaonarivelo (Madagascar), Mahefa Dimbiniaina Randrianarivelo (Madagascar), Aron Simeneh (Ethiopia), and Mekbib Tadesse (Ethiopia).
Each artist submitted their application, including a presentation of their artistic career as well as a portfolio composed of three photographic series representative of their work.
The jury, made up of qualified personalities from the worlds of art and photography and led by James Barnor, met during the summer of 2023 to study the applications and choose a winner.
In the fall of 2023, the winner of the 2023 James Barnor Prize will be announced in Antwerp, at FOMU, during the next James Barnor retrospective which will be held from October 26, 2023 to March 9, 2024.
“I came across a magazine with an inscription that said: “A civilization flourishes when men plant trees under which they themselves never sit.” But it’s not just plants – putting something into someone’s life, into the life of a young person, is equivalent to planting a tree that will not be cut down or sold.
It helped me a lot in my work. Sometimes the more you give, the more you receive. That’s why I still fight at 90!” – James Barnor