Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Threadneedle Prize 2012 - Shortlisted Artists

The £30,000 Threadneedle Prize is the most valuable prize awarded for a single work of art in the UK.  Tonight, the shortlisted artists are announced.

The winners of both The Threadneedle Prize (£30,000) and Visitors’ Choice Prize (£10,000) will be announced at a special Awards Dinner on Wednesday 10 October 2012 - to which I'm invited. I might have to take the iPad for a spot of live blogging!

You can read more about the Selectors on my Call for Entries post.

Shortlisted Artists

The Rt. Hon. Michael Portillo is announcing the six works shortlisted for the 2012 Threadneedle Prize for Painting and Sculpture artists at the reception at the Mall Galleries right now (ie 7.30pm)! [Post subsequently updated with images taken at the exhibition preview]

An initial review indicates that we have:
  • four artists who are working more or less in monochrome and only one really colourful piece, 
  • three artists who got a degree this summer
  • one sculpture and five paintings 
  • and two artists called Ben.
To date (2008 - 2011), the four winners have all been women - this year there's a 50% chance that we might just see the first winner who isn't a woman!

1.  Hair Triptych by Elaine Brown

Hair Triptych by Elaine Brown
Oil paint on gesso board, 15 x 20 cm each panel
Elaine Brown was born in London in 1961.  Her art studies involved an MA in Fine Art at Wimbledon College of Art which she completed in 2012. Her artwork has been exhibited in
  • New Contemporaries in 1984 
  • alongside Tracey Emin in 1987 in an exhibition called Three Women Artists at Rochester Art Centre.  
  • on her Facebook Page - Elaine Brown Art 
The dimensions indicate that this is a small work.

2.  Dreaming 2 (Diptych) by David Firmstone

Dreaming 2 (Diptych) by David Firmstone 
Oil on canvas, 240 x 180 cm
David Firmstone was born in Middlesborough in 1943 and is a well established professional artist and a past Vice President of The Royal Watercolour Society.  He has exhibited extensively around the UK; in Denmark, Sweden and the USA and at the Royal Academy, Royal College of Art, Bankside Gallery, and the Mall Galleries.  He has artwork in the permanent collections of the British Museum and he Grosvenor Museum, Chester.

This is a video of David Firmstone being interviewed and starting a painting.
"All my work is concerned with landscape and seascape. I am fascinated by marks: the painters and those that humans make when they work the land. The spirits of artists and land workers past and present shape my view. I work on a large scale in watercolour I use tradition as my touchstone and modernism as my flight."
David Firmstone (RWS website)
The dimensions indicate that this is a very large work.  David's paintings often have to be hung in pivotal positions in a gallery otherwise they completely dominate other pieces.  (I was right - it's HUGE!)

David Firmstone in front of his shortlisted painting

3. My Feet by Ben Greener

My Feet by Ben Greener
Wood, canvas, glue, tea and coffee, 10 x 24 x 34 cm
This is the only sculpture to be shortlisted - it's definitely innovative.

Some of you may recall Ben Greener's feet from my blog post about the selected artists when I invited artists to send me images of their artwork which had been selected for the exhibition.  Ben was the first to respond and sent me a number of images from which to choose.  From which I think good things will come to Ben in his career as an artist!

The 2012 Threadneedle Prize will be the first public exhibition of Ben’s work. After failing to finish his degree, Ben has been working in photography and conservation, as well as breeding endangered frogs native to Madagascar.

Ben has also made his hands, skull and spine in the same materials.  It looks as if he's working to life size.

4. Self Portrait by Ben Hendy

Self Portrait by Ben Hendy
Linocut on paper (detail), 97 x 227 cm
Ben Hendy (Ben Hendy Illustration) was awarded a First Class Honours Degree in Illustration this summer (2012) by Middlesex University, London. He now works as a freelance artist/illustrator/printmaker.

His work is a full length naked self portrait.  You can see the "full on" version of Lino Man on his blog where you can also see some close-ups of Lino man (click the images to see a larger size image) and more of his work - which is also very impressive.  He's in some very good company - Lucian Freud did a self-portrait Self Portrait - Reflection which had a very similar stance and Lucian Freud was also an etcher working in monochrome.

From what I've seen online (I've got a high res version) I really like the line work and his technique for lino cutting - plus I like the idea and the echoes of those who have gone before.

Details of Ben's work are being used to promote the Exhibition - see his blog post Threadneedle Prize - which appears to indicate that one week ago he had no idea that he'd been shortlisted.

If you're still working in imperial, the height of this linocut is just short of 90 inches - which means it's also going to be big and impressive.

5. Silken Needles by Chloe Le Tissier

Silken Needles by Chloe Le Tissier
Oil on canvas, 94 x 232 cm
Chloe Le Tissier attended The Slade School of Fine Art and The Prince’s Drawing School where she was commended for her work for The Drawing Year in 2011. She was also Artist in Residence at Garsington Opera House, Oxford, in 2008.

This landscape is just over 90 inches wide.  I can't help feeling that the fact that it's the only really colourful work in the shortlist means it probably hasn't won.

6. Sheer Shirt David by Sophie Levi 

Sheer Shirt David by Sophie Levi 
Oil on canvas, 40 x 50 cm
Sophie Levi obtained a distinction in Fine Art from the Byam Shaw School of Art.

Sophie has two paintings in the exhibition.  I discovered at the preview that the subject of her shortlisted painting is a male life model - and realised that I'd actually drawn him back some six years ago (see Drawing inspiration from da Vinci 2006)

Sophie has exhibited her work in exhibitions for the BP Portrait Award (shortlisted twice in the 1990s), the Lynn Painter Stainers Prize and the ING Discerning Eye Prize. Sophie’s work has been collected by Christopher Forbes, New York, King’s College, Cambridge and HRH Prince of Wales.

Her action drawings are splendid.  I really don't know what the selectors thought but for me it's very much the case that I prefer a lot of the work on her website over this piece.

My Prediction

I think the work which wins will be monochromatic. Without seeing them, my vote would go to Lino Man and that's because I do like artists who can create art using only line and tone.

Exhibition Details

The Threadneedle Prize exhibition opens tomorrow 26th September  and runs until to 13rh October 2012.

Each of the 153 works exhibited in the 2012 exhibition is also eligible to win the £10,000 Visitors’ Choice Award.  This is dependent on the vote of those visiting the Exhibition and I'm aware that some of the artists have already started their lobbying campaigns!

Here are the essential detals:
  • Times: Open daily 10am-5pm (closes 3pm on final day) 
  • Address: Mall Galleries The Mall, near Trafalgar Square, London SW1
  • Price: Admission Free
  • Events: Wednesday 3 October 2012 6-10pm The Threadneedle Prize will be open for late night viewing with a pop-up bar and live music.
The Prize is sponsored by Threadneedle - an international investment management firm.

More about the Threadneedle Prize

For more about the Threadneedle Prize 2012 - and the Prize in earlier years - see my earlier posts (and images) below

2012 Threadneedle Prize
2011 Threadneedle Prize
Other information about art competitions in the UK:  See Art Competitions in the UK - this also includes links to earlier years of the Threadneedle Prize.  I've been covering this exhibition from the very beginning.


  1. Thanks for posting this Katherine - I always turn to you as I find your work very viewer friendly and readable!

    I do hope one of the Bens win, I think both pieces are amazing and would like to see an emerging artist win this year.

    I wish I had thought of emailing you a picture of my work as the Threadneedle Prize website does make is look....well anaemic!! I don't know if they want to make it look slightly more monochromatic to fit in with the rest of the exhibiton, or whether it is a hard piece to photograph!

    Can't wait to read the rest of your "coverage" on the Threadneedle Prize this year.

    Many thanks
    Ka Gray

  2. Katherine

    Have you given a publication permission to use your David Firmstone (in your Threadneedle 2012 article) picture recently? As I have a copy of a magazine that I'm sure has used your photograph.

    Kindest regards

  3. Thanks Ka - I sent a copy to David and if it's an interview with him and he gave it to them I haven't got a problem with that.

    Which magazine was it?

  4. Dear Katherine

    I do feel a like a "tell-tale" know - but I spotted the image as being one of yours straight away (a blessing or a curse!?)

    The magazine is called the "Island Visitor" which is a free magazine produced by Red Funnel Ferries and given away to customers on ferries and terminals, in Southampton and the Isle of Wight.

    The article is about those who have relocated to the Island in search of their dreams!

    If you would like a scanned copy then do please let me know.

    Kindest regards

  5. Please - contact details are in the side column


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