Thursday, September 08, 2011

Shortlist for Threadneedle Prize 2011 dominated by women artists

Six of the seven artists shortlisted for the £25,000 Threadneedle Prize 2011 are women!  This follows on from the track record of female success to date - see my post back in May - Three women artists win Threadneedle Prize in first three years.

The artist who wins the Threadneedle Prize will receive a prize of £25,000 and each runner-up will receive £1,000.  The selectors have already chosen the winning artwork.  The winner will be announced at an awards ceremony on Wednesday 5 October.
The Threadneedle Prize is the UK’s leading showcase for contemporary paintings and sculptures that promote the practice of representational art, but challenge its language and assumptions.  All works in the exhibition are sourced through open submission and this year the selectors reviewed a record of 4,350 entries, more than double the number received in previous years.
I'm ecstatic to hear that this year - for the very first time in the short history of this competition - the £10,000 Visitors’ Choice prize can be won by any one of the 52 works on display, including the shortlist.  In other words it's a genuine Visitors' Choice and the work which receives the highest number of public votes during the exhibition will win the prize.  If the public vote coincides with the selectors’ vote, one artist will win a total of £35,000.  That would make The Threadneedle Prize potentially the most valuable art competition for a single work of art in the UK.

  • The exhibition will be on display at the Mall Galleries from 22 September to 8 October 2011.
  • Voting for the Visitors' Choice Prize ends at 12pm on Monday, 3 October 2011
Do let me know what you think of the work.  Are you planning to visit the exhibition?

Artists shortlisted for the Threadneedle Prize 2011

All the shortlisted artists are under the age of 40.  The seven shortlisted works are:

Below are all seven works plus bios plus my initial comments.  I don't call it as I see it until I've seen the works at the preview - so there will be another post in a week's time to indicate
  • who I think might win
  • and - as I did last year - who would have been on my personal short list of seven
  • AND this year who I've voted to win the £10,000 Visitors Choice Award.
Below I've included my initial responses to each work.  Experience from previous years suggests it's always necessary to visit the gallery to see them in person and hence appreciate fully why they were chosen - or sometimes to puzzle over why they were chosen!

Links in the list above are to the Threadneedle website.  Links in their names below are to their websites - where I can find one.

1.  Open Lid by Georgina Amos

Georgina Amos, Open Lid
Egg emulsion ground on linen
Georgina Amos
Born 1982 in Cambridge. Lives and works in Cambridge. Studied MFA Fine Art at Slade School of Fine Art, UCL and BA Fine Art at Chelsea College of Art & Design.Amos’s work investigates objects that communicate invisibly, such as mobile phones, masts and telephone lines. Her paintings evoke the inner surface of the eye as a way to explore the boundary between the private, hidden self and the external public realm.
Initial comment
Huh?  Sorry - I don't get it.

2.  White Burka by Howard Dyke

Howard Dyke, White Burka
Oil, tape and reflective stickers on canvas
Howard Dyke
Born 1971 in London. Lives and works in London. Studied MA Fine Art at Goldsmiths and BA Fine Art at Central St Martins College of Art & Design. Dyke works from found images on Getty, Google and Flickr, choosing images intuitively to form paintings that explore a tension between the subject matter and material gesture.
Initial comment
It's somewhat ironic that the one chap in the shortlist should have painted a garment which some might say is associated with the repression of women by Islam.  Sounds to me as if he doesn't quite have a grasp of copyright law re creating derivative work from other people's photographs.  Also how long does a reflective sticker last?

3.  Everything in its Right Place by Sarah R. Key

Sarah R Key, Everything in its Right Place
Acrylic on canvas
Sarah R Key
Born 1971 in Derbyshire. Lives and works in the Midlands. Studied PhD Painting and Theory at Loughborough University and MA Fine Art at Wimbledon College of Art.  Key’s work draws on contemporary and historical cultural references that collapse into the dreamlike or nightmarish, transformed into an imaginary world inhabited by the odd hybrid creatures of her invention.
Initial comment
This reminds me a lot of a similar painting I've seen but I can't remember which one or the artist.  Maybe she's had her work in this exhibition (or another in London) before?

4.  Anon Series 4 by Nadine Mahoney

Nadine Mahoney, Anon Series(4)
Relief ink on paper
Nadine Mahoney 
Born 1981 in London. Lives and works in London. Studied MFA Fine Art at Slade School of Fine Art, UCL and BA Fine Art at Chelsea College of Art & Design.  Mahoney is interested in what the figure holds for the individual in terms of memory, personal connection and sense of belonging. Her portraits depict hybrid forms that are both abstract and figurative.
Initial comment
I think this could be very interesting - and I'd love to know what sort of paper it is painted on.  Nadine has an art blog called Pigments and Patterns and was the image chosen by BBC News for their article on the Threadneedle Prize.

I liked better how she describes her work on her website
A passion for paint drives my practice. Fusing traditional and contemporary techniques, I am constantly questioning what materials can do, presently I am exploring aluminum, copper, zinc and various panel supports. Using my own prepared gesso and oil paints, I have been layering and excavating the surface to simultaneously obscure and highlight the human form. The dichotomy within this practice inspires me, the portrait acts as both a vehicle to carry painterly gesture and a symbol to be deciphered. Cutting through layers and perceptions the forms can appear both familiar and distant as they shift between abstraction and figuration.
5. Bad Government (after Lorenzetti) by Henrietta Stimson 

Henrietta Simson, Bad Government (After
Lorenzetti), Oil and pigment on gesso board
Henrietta Simson
Born 1971 in Crawley. Lives and works in London. Studied MA Painting at Slade School of Fine Art, UCL and currently studying there for a practice-related PhD.Simson selects early Renaissance depictions of space; landscapes that provided the setting for a scene or story. She changes the format and scale, and removes all narrative elements, freeing the spaces from their historical context and translating them intoa contemporary framework.

Initial comment
I've seen the The Allegory of Good and Bad Government by Ambrogio Lorenzetti in the Town Hall in Sienna and it's one my favourite all time artworks  not least because of its significance as probably the very first landscape painting (or fresco if you insist!). See Ambrogio Lorenzetti - the first panorama.

I very much like the idea of a contemporary version.  I like the description of her process - however I'm left with a niggling doubt which is if both scale and format are changed and narrative, couldn't it be any landscape?  In other words - what's the point?

This also seems an appropriate point to don my Simon Cowell hat on and say "If you try to do something somebody else has already done you better be very good and also bring your own unique interpretation to the work". I shall wait until I see it before commenting further....  (However I did have a look at her website - and here's Good Government (after Lorenzetti)

6. Knife by Laura Smith

Laura Smith, Knife, Oil on aluminium
Laura Smith
Born 1980 in Surrey. Lives and works in London. Studied BA Fine Art at Slade School of Fine Art, UCL and currently studying MFA Fine Art at Slade School of Fine Art, UCL.Through her paintings, Smith examines the idea that a single inanimate object can express an emotion.
Initial comment
I love the idea behind it.  I find my eye keeps being drawn to this painting.  My gut reaction is it's clever - both in terms of concept and media.  But how will I feel about it when I see it?

7. Birch in Space 2010 by Amy Stephens

Amy Stephens, Birch in Space 2010
Amy Stephens
Born 1981 in London. Lives and works in London. Studied MA Fine Art at Chelsea College of Art & Design and BA Fine Art at the University of Reading. Stephens’s interest lies in the appropriation of nature, using drawing and architectural influences within her work to transform spaces into an exploration of line, plane and volume.
Initial comment
This one I like.  It's involves observation and interpretation to transform nature into a sparse and simple sculpture.  At the moment it appeals to me a lot.

Selected artwork for the Threadneedle Prize 2011

You can view images of all the work shortlisted for the exhibition on the website.  You can also see some of the artists who got through to the second selection phase  submitted work talking about the Prize and some of the work which was also made it through the first selection phase and travelled to the Mall Galleries for the selection in the video below.

Selectors for this year’s prize-winner and exhibition are:
  • Julie Lomax, London Head of Visual Arts, Arts Council England, 
  • Lisa Milroy, Artist and Head of Graduate Painting, Slade School of Fine Art and 
  • Godfrey Worsdale, Director of BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art and a juror for the 2011 Turner Prize.
The Threadneedle Prize: Critics' View

The 2011 Critics View will be held on Wednesday 28 September, 6pm to 7pm - which is FREE.  This year’s critics include: Gyles Brandreth, Author, Actor & Broadcaster, Rachel Campbell-Johnston, Chief Art Critic, The Times and Ossian Ward, Visual Arts Editor, Time Out London.  Their job is to select one work from The Threadneedle Prize exhibition and explain their choice.

Below are links to previous posts covering The Threadneedle Prize on this blog


Previous winners

Threadneedle Prize 2011
Threadneedle Prize 2010:
Threadneedle Prize 2008 - 2011 - all posts on this blog


  1. I just wanted to tell you that I read your review of the brown G-Tec C4 Microtip fine liner (0.4mm)Pilot pen, and immediately ordered it from ebay. What can I say - I love this pen!! Everything you said in your review is true (such as how the ink flows etc) and I couldn't be happier with it. Now I just want to sketch all the time... :) ~ Sara

  2. Hi Katherine,

    I came across your blog and thought that yourself and your colleagues might be interested to hear about the International Print Biennale which is currently taking place in the North of England. We'd love you to have a look through the gallery of entries: This has been filtered down from 650 international submissions to a shortlist of 44:

    I'm leading on the marketing for the Festival and we're trying to engage the international printmaking community to spread the word about the importance of printmaking in contemporary art, so any support you could provide to raise awareness of the festival would be greatly appreciated.

    If you'd like any further information, please do contact me, Anna Franks at We've also got a twitter hashtag: #printbiennale, images can be posted to our flickr account: IPB11 and people can 'like' us on Facebook at Northern Print.

    Many thanks in advance and best wishes,


  3. Hi Anna

    I've actually already run two posts about the International Print Biennale

    * northern print biennale 2009 - call for entries
    * 2011 International Print Awards - Entries Deadline 6th June

    The links for the gallery of entries are

    This is the link to selected artists

    (please don't use short form html links in blog posts - and I like people to know where they will go if they click the link)

  4. Interesting site. I'll be back.


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