Page last updated at 10:23 GMT, Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Quintuplets nightmare wins award

The portrait was inspired by a nightmare about giving birth to quintuplets

A portrait inspired by a woman's nightmare of giving birth to quintuplets has won the National Portrait Gallery's photographic prize.

Quints, by London-based artist Lottie Davies, 37, visualises her friend Caroline's memories.

Davies' portrait was based on the classic image of the Madonna and child and was also influenced by paintings by masters like Caravaggio and Titian.

Quints is part of a series on early childhood memories and nightmares.

'Intense' dreams

Davies was announced as the winner of the 2008 Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize on Tuesday.

In the photograph Davies tried to capture the "calm and the serenity of motherhood, as well as the feeling of imprisonment".

Davies said she used a model for the picture rather than her friend to allow "more freedom to interpret the story". The model's 10-week-old niece also posed as the quintuplets.

Bag by Hendrik Karstens
Bag was also a contender for the prize

For the series Davies asked her friends to describe their fears and dreams to her.

"Nightmares are similar to early memories in that they can be so intense that the recollection sometimes lasts all one's life.

"I do think there is space to play with and expand on the idea of representation of people and things," she said.

The portrait was shot in a near derelict building in east London.

The director of the National Portrait Gallery Sandy Nairne said Davies' artwork was a "brilliantly imaginative portrait image".

Her work beat Dutchman Hendrik Kerstens, whose photograph, Bag, depicted a woman wearing a plastic bag on her head in the style of a 17th-century bonnet.

The artist said the picture was taken as a comment on the number of plastic bags he noticed being given away in New York shops.

A portrait of media mogul Rupert Murdoch by Tom Stoddart was also among the works in the running for the prize.

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