Jan, Kayleigh and Kizzie, National Photographic Portrait Award, NPG
It is with an almost quasi-religious enthusiasm that home owners cover their houses in lights at Christmas time; their enthrallment with the ritual perhaps belies a yearning for an era of perceived innocence prior to the current hegemony of secularism in the West. The superficial joy the lights offer, in some way, mirrors all our elaborate and ineffectual coping mechanisms in the face of the apparent futility of existence. Jesus Christ, whose birthday they are of course celebrating, was likened directly to light by the apostle John in his gospel: 'He was the true Light; He enlightens every man coming into the world'. These photographs are a means of exploring how this spiritual claim becomes an 'electronic allegory', in its own garish way, providing comfort. The subjects, they refer to themselves as 'houseblingers', have been asked to stand in front of the camera quietly, so that by a process of reduction, the strange message they are proselatising might materialise within the lens.