Photographer Seba Kurtis first arrived in Europe as an illegal immigrant from Argentina. He followed the dream of a perfect life that attracts many to first world countries, considering Europe as a Promised Land. In this stunning series of portraits commissioned by Vauxhall, Kurtis explores his pre-conceptions of British people whilst simultaneously re-inventing what it means to be British in today’s multicultural society.

In this cathartic project he travelled to London, Manchester, Blackpool, Cheshire, Birmingham, Liverpool, Bradford, Rhyl and Brighton, where he spent days shooting on a large format camera, documenting hundreds of people. Fascinated by stereotypical characters like the English Rose and the British Gentleman, Kurtis wanted to analyse how their modern re-incarnation differs from the original, drawing a parallel between the idealised classic British life imagined as an immigrant, and the everyday reality. Through “reinventing British classics”, he has produced a series of portraits capturing the essence of British people today; whether they are born and bred in the UK, second generation residents or illegal immigrants.

Winner of the Vauxhall Photography prize Seba Kurtis was chosen by a panel of industry experts for his ability to create powerful and yet delicate work, drawing from his own personal experience to reflect on universally shared emotions.

The Promised Land by Seba Kurtis is on from 8 February – 6 March 2010
The Tricycle Theatre, 269 Kilburn High Road, London NW6 7JR

Image © Seba Kurtis, courtesy of Vauxhall Motors.