Artist, tattooist and owner of the independent Play Dead Studio in Southsea, Samo White took home our Best Visual Artist trophy.
As a transgender man, Samo has been a visible trans activist and tireless advocate for inclusion and creativity.
Play Dead regularly hosts exhibitions by other artists, and it has encouraged Samo to pursue his own work.
‘Since having Play Dead I’ve tried to push other artists and help them be successful, then I made a decision last year to quite publicly document my own transition and put out there my own artwork, which a lot of people responded to.
‘We’ve built up this beautiful community in Portsmouth and I already had this incredible audience, but I wasn’t sure where it was going to go. It was like jumping into the deep end of a pool without any kind of life support, but everyone has been incredible.
‘It’s not just been the artistic side but also the personal and vulnerable side, so there’s quite a lot of emotion attached to it.’
From February 23, Samo is putting on an exhibition of his own work at Play Dead for the first time.
‘After three-and-a-half-years I’ve decided maybe I can do it myself, which has been really quite hard to do.
‘I’m comfortable with putting on other artists, but putting on myself… the need for what I’m talking about and what I’m documenting has overwritten my reservations. I feel I’m in a privileged platform and I need to do something with it.’
Svetlana Ochkovskaya was runner-up.
The Best Visual Artist category is sponsored by Aspex Gallery.