Thursday, October 11, 2012

Threadneedle Prize 2012 - the Award Winners

Threadneedle Prize Winner 2012
Ben Greener - "My Feet"
Last night I was at the Mall Galleries for the Awards Dinner for the 5th Annual Threadneedle Prize 2012. There are two main prizes - the Annual Threadneedle Prize (£30,000) and the Visitor's Choice Award (£10,000) and I guessed right and predicted one of them!  The Prize was this year won by a man for the very first time.

I managed to get myself and my camera there, unfortunately the battery decided to stay at home in the charger.  However I did help to choreograph a great photograph of the winner if I say so myself!

The tale of this prize is about two sculptors, two men named Ben and two men who took themselves at the starting point and the subject matter for their entry to this competition. Many thanks to Liberty for the photos of the chaps who won prizes.

First the winners and then the commentary.

Threadneedle Prize

Threadneedle Prize Winner 2012
My Feet by Ben Greener 

Wood, Canvas, Glue, Tea & Coffee, 10x24x34,
The winner of the Threadneedle Prize 2012 is Ben Greener.  It's an incredibly innovative piece.

People's Choice Award Winner

This is the one I predicted correctly - Robert Truscott won the People's Choice Award with Defeat.

Defeat by Robert Truscott
Mixed Media, Plaster, Epoxy Putty, Material on Armature, 367x167x49cm,
The sculpture is of soldiers after the Battle of Stalingrad leaving the city as prisoners of war en route to the Soviet gulag.  This battle was one of the bloodiest of the second world war and two million people died.  There a major story about the aftermath as well of the battle itself.  Here's what  Wikipedia had to say on the subject
Out of the nearly 110,000 German prisoners captured in Stalingrad, only about 6,000 ever returned. Already weakened by disease, starvation and lack of medical care during the encirclement, they were sent on death marches (75,000 survivors died within 3 months of capture) to prisoner camps and later to labour camps all over the Soviet Union. Some 35,000 were eventually sent on transports, of which 17,000 did not survive. Most died of wounds, disease (particularly typhus), cold, overwork, mistreatment, and malnutrition.
Robert Truscott and some of the figures in Defeat
On accepting the prize Robert said he would use the money to get the sculpture cast in bronze.  Robert talks about the materials and processes he uses in  blog post - Construction and Materials

Islington Backgardens in Winter Sunlight 
Two runners-up won £500 each.  These were:


Ben Greener is an excellent example of an artist who is very focused and makes things happen - besides creating sculptures.  Ben has known he's an artist from a very early age and has spent much of his life making art.  He started a degree course and then, having started, realised he needed to just get on and make art.

He decided a while back that the Threadneedle Prize was the sort of prize which could provide him with the capital to allow him to get a practice going in a studio.  His original intention had been to provide a complete sculpture of his body - inside out.  Which is how he came to construct his skull and spine and hands.  However there were problems getting the whole structure to hang together and hence he decided to submit just his feet to the Threadneedle.

The judges apparently were of one mind as soon as they saw his work and knew that it was exceptional - this I heard from one of the judges telling Ben last night!

Ben Hendy and his life size
Self Portrait
linocut (sold)
Then, as soon I posted my selected artists posts, Ben was emailing me with photos of his work to go on the blog post.

Keep an eye on his website which is cuurrently under construction.  When finished it's bound to have interesting and innovative work from somebody who is definitely 'going places'.

The other Ben and another life size self-portrait

I was also very pleased to meet up with Ben Hendy last night and managed to persuade him to stand in front of his artwork - a linocut of his naked body - so you can get the sense of scale.

Ben was shortlisted for the Threadneedle Prize and last night won a prize of £1,000.

Ben told me that he'd handburnished the whole linocut - which for me makes it all the more remarkable.

What is most astonishing is that we have two young men - both called Ben and at the beginning of their career as an artist - who both chose to use themselves as their subject matter for their competition submission.

Both did something truly innovative - and both were duly recognised and became rather better off as a result.

Note: John Deston is to be congratulated for organising the best dinner I've ever had at an Events/Awards "Do".  It was absolutely delicious.

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 UKArt Competitions in the UK - this includes links to earlier years of the Threadneedle Prize



  1. Thanks for posting this Katherine. I'm no sculpture aficionado by any means but both pieces look rather stunning in fact. 'Defeat' reminds me in some ways of Ilya Repin's paintings (I think it's barge haulers), along with Sargent's Gassed piece. Very impressive indeed.

  2. sounds like a really enjoyable evening and nice to see the artists with their work. curious about Ben Hendy's linocut being 'hand burnished' - not familiar with the process and would like to know what it means!

  3. Maureen - take a look at this video. Hand burnishing is what happens when the paper is pressed over the inked up linocut

  4. Live and learn I guess! I've been printmaking for many years and have spent the last 2 concentrating on Linocuts with a portrait included in the Royal Society of Portrait Painters 2012 exhibition. I understood 'burnishing' to be an etching term for the act of rubbing the plate to join the dots mainly to create a halftone. My linocuts are hand printed without a press and unbeknownst to me I've been "hand burnishing" them all the while in the traditional way! Terminology can be a devil but I'm always interested in process and hearing the term used in relation to Lino I was intrigued. Thank you for the link to the video.


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