Scottish photography student wins Portrait of Britain

Ilisa Stack, BA photography student at City of Glasgow College is one of the winners of this year’s Portrait of Britain competition.

Her work was selected from 13,000 entries to make the final 100 images which are being shown on JCDecaux screens nationwide as part of the biggest exhibition of contemporary portraiture ever held.

Paul Little, Principal and Chief Executive at City of Glasgow College, said:

“Our congratulations go to Ilisa for this outstanding achievement. Winning such a prestigious competition is, of course, a personal triumph for this very talented student, but it is also a resounding acknowledgement of our photography lecturers, Team City, whose collective talents and enthusiasm inspire our students to aim high and be better than best.”

Ilisa’s image, G22 | Age 11 | Basketball | 2018, is also one of 200 photographs to be included in the first ever Portrait of Britain book, launched on 6 September.

The 39-year-old from Rutherglen cried a happy tear on hearing she had made the final 100, saying:

“I am delighted, it is a dream come true and it has been wonderful sharing the news with Michaela and seeing her excitement at her image not only being printed in the book but on public display at Glasgow’s Central Station.”

The student had links to photography through her father who worked for the gas board, which had a dark room, and Ilisa used to watch him develop photographs. Growing up she realised all her hobbies were creative, so seven years ago she joined East Kilbride camera club.

“I took an evening class at City of Glasgow College which allowed me to apply for the HND course and I became a full-time student in 2014. As a mother of three, it was a big decision to commit to full-time education but the level of support I have had across the board from the college gave me the confidence to succeed,” said Ilisa.

The HND improved the student’s technical abilities and pushed her out of her comfort zone which she felt helped shape her photography. After completing the HND, Ilisa felt she was beginning to find herself as a photographer so was really keen to go on and do the BA in photography.

“My four years at City of Glasgow College really has been a joy. The briefs I completed in the first two years lead me towards documentary, which developed under the gentle guidance of the hugely talented lecturers during the degree years. I gained something from every lecturer but would single out Suzanne Galloway for helping me realise I had a voice in photography, and of course Aileen Campbell for encouraging me to enter the Portrait of Britain competition,” added Ilisa.

Aileen Campbell, Curriculum Head for Photography at City of Glasgow College, said:

“It has been a huge pleasure to watch Ilisa’s work develop alongside her growing confidence in what she could achieve. Ilisa saw the beauty and potential of what was right in front of her, something which many photographers can miss. Lecturers and classmates are so proud of her dedication and photographic journey.”

The image Ilisa chose for the competition is from her Oot tae Play series, which documents children and their environment and highlights the contrast between her childhood, when young people were always seen out playing, with today’s children who are conspicuous by their absence. The series also outlines the huge shift in social change with regard to photographic documentation of children today.

“It’s been a tremendous privilege to document the Oot tae Play children and I plan to build on this body of work. It would be interesting to re-shoot them all again in the future which is something I am seriously considering,” said Ilisa.

As well as her success with Portrait of Britain, Ilisa is exhibiting some of her work at the aff Galerie in Berlin in October as part of the Monat der Fotografie OFF- Berlin.

The talented student, who graduates with a first class honours degree in November, has also been shortlisted for this year’s Scottish Portrait Awards which sees her image at future exhibitions in both Edinburgh and Glasgow.