Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Ana Schmidt wins Threadneedle Prize 2018

This is about the winner of the £20000 Columbia Threadneedle Award 2018 for contemporary figurative and representational art - and the other five artists shortlisted as finalists.

Dead End - an impeccably and impressively painted view of an urban space by Ana Schmidt (Bilbao, Spain) won the First Prize.  I'm really looking forward to her solo exhibition at the Mall Galleries. I think it's going to attract a lot of attention - and a lot of collectors of paintings of urban spaces.  How she manages to be an urban planning architect as well as a a very impressive painter is beyond me!

I'm enjoying the fact that I got two of the six finalists right! (Plus note my comment right at the end!)

Ana Schmidt with her First Prize Award and her painting 

The Exhibition and the People's Vote Award £10,000

The exhibition of all the selected artworks is on at the Mall Galleries until 17th February.

There's one more major prize worth £10,000. The decision as to who gets that is determined by the result of the People's Vote by visitors to the exhibition

My guess is it will be between Dead End and Babel Britain (After Verhaecht).  I'll certainly be torn which to vote for!

The Awards Ceremony

This year the sponsors of The Threadneedle Prize sought to change the way the winner is announced. So this year there was:
  • no announcement of the shortlisted finalists - until 7.30pm at the Awards Ceremony
  • no announcement of the winner until 8.00pm after the interviews with the finalists
  • even the winner did not know she had won beforehand!
  • meaning every artist who was exhibiting knew they were in with a shout of winning or maybe getting one of the runner-up prizes
  • and no dinner - and no clueless interviews by a nameless celebrity who I was not a fan of!
  • a mad scramble to get photos of the artists with their pics before they left....
I like the idea of keeping everybody in suspense - and it certainly generated a good turnout.

However, I think next time around it might be better if everything was moved back an hour so those with very long journeys and trains to catch to get home didn't shoot straight out the door after the announcement - including some of the prizewinners!

The First Prize

The winner of the First prize of £20,000 plus a solo exhibition at the Mall Galleries is Ana Schmidt.  This is what I had down as a profile for her
Ana Schmidt - (Website in Spanish) born in Germany, her family moved to Vietnam and then Thailand before her sixth birthday. major in architecture and enrolled at the acclaimed Polytechnic University of Barcelona, ​​Spain. Realistic painter who presents reality without an obvious style or embellishment. Uses sketches and painting from life + photographs and colour and composition studies. Every time I look at her painting I like it. I'll be very interested to see what it looks like in the gallery. Take a look at more of her paintings - I find them very impressive.

‘Dead End’ | copyright Ana Schmidt
acrylic, 165 x 114 cm
During generations, mythology and narratives have had influence over our view of the world. We live in a world where narratives are constructed for entertainment and merchandising, not to explain our experiences. Our world needs myths, art…Dead End is about painted histories on the walls, allows ambiguity, but it also presents a second reality, the reflections on the water.
Ana Schmidt
I was pretty certain this extremely impressive work was going to get shortlisted - and when I saw it in person it's even better than the website version. It was interesting when asking others in between the interviews and the announcement, a lot thought this work was going to win.

This is the sort of painting which makes me want to learn how to paint in acrylics. It's so much better than a photorealism or photography!

The Finalists (£1,000 each)

The five finalists who each won £1,000 were all women. Yet again the women do well in this exhibition. I'm not quite sure why.  Maybe more women create figurative art?

They are:
  • Emily Allchurch 
  • Caroline Burraway 
  • Serena Curmi 
  • Cathy Lewis
  • Lois Wallace
Below you can see them with their artwork (where I could get a photo) plus my profile of them which I did for the Selected Artists post. I've also got videos of the interviews but have not watched these yet - so maybe a link to these on YouTube later!

Emily Allchurch

Since completing my MA in Sculpture at the Royal College of Art in 1999, I have developed a complex digital collage technique to recreate Old Master paintings and prints in a contemporary idiom. My starting point is an intensive encounter with a city or place, to absorb an impression and gather a huge image library. From this resource, hundreds of photos are selected and meticulously spliced together to ‘construct’ my story, creating a seamless new ‘fictional’ space. The works have a resonance with place, history and culture, and deal with the passage of time and the changes to a landscape, fusing contemporary life with a sense of history, and an underlying social narrativeEmily Allchurch
Babel Britain (After Verhaecht)| copyright Emily Allchurch
Transparency on bespoke LED lightbox (edition of 20, 10 available), Size: 128 x 140 cm
This is an artwork which I explicitly tipped for a prize for a variety of reasons (see below). The work certainly did not disappoint up close - if anything it's even better than I thought it was. You literally cannot see the join in this digital collage which took her thee months to complete.
Emily Allchurch - trained as a sculptor, First Class (Hons.) degree in Fine Art from the Kent Institute of Art & Design – Canterbury in 1996, and an MA from the Royal College of Art in 1999. Now uses photography and digital collage to reconstruct Old Master paintings and prints to create contemporary narratives. Her work Babel Britain (After Verhaecht) is a Transparency on bespoke LED lightbox. This is MY TIP for A PRIZE - because there is an explicit nod to art history, it's clever and technically much more than proficient, uses contemporary visual art media and provides an intelligent comment on contemporary society. It's a contemporary figurative artwork with a BIG 'C'.

Caroline Burraway

Samuel, The Jungle, Calais | copyright Caroline Burraway
Charcoal, 160 x 135 cm
Caroline Burraway with her charcoal drawing of Samuel

This wonderful charcoal drawing had a very effective acrylic protection. However unfortunately it was competing with both the extra lights for the awards evening, the bar and the rest of the artwork in terms of reflections and was really difficult to photograph.
Caroline Burraway - BA in Drawing from Camberwell and an MA from central St Martins. Her work has previously been selected for art competition exhibitions. I like her charcoal drawings

Serena Curmi

'Bedlam' Case Studies | copyright Serena Curmi
Oil on board, 28 x 43 cm
A six-part piece depicting case studies of patients of the infamous Bethlem Royal Hospital, (from which the word 'bedlam' was derived), during the late 1800's. Reference was taken from archival photographs held at the hospital and from the book 'Presumed Curable' by Colin Gale and Robert Howard. It is not known why the photographs were takenSerena Curmi

Serena Curmi with her Bedlam 'Case Studies'
I thought the photographs were really great small paintings of PEOPLE. There's nothing to suggest they're the inmates of Bedlam.  I like the idea of the project - that painting can strip away the labels and bring us back to the people.

Serena was there with her very cute, very small and very well behaved baby.

I am, of course a dab hand of photographing babies at Awards Ceremonies and coaxed a half grin from her daughter!

Serena Curmi with husband and daughter
Watch out for more of her work at places like the Affordable Art Fair - and exhibitions in Bristol.
Serena Curmi - Graduated from Falmouth. Works as a full time artist at Jamaica Street Studios in Bristol after an earlier career as an illustrator. Regular exhibitor at Affordable Art shows in London and Bristol.

Cathy Lewis

Nowhere near Gotham | copyright Cathy Lewis
Cast marble and digital print (edition of 6, 3 available), Size: 200 x 200 x 150 cm
I must see if I can get a link to her video interview up on here as she said quite a lot about her work.
Cathy Lewis - Studied at Glasgow School of Art , Falmouth Art School and University of the West of England. Works from a studio on Spike Island. Says very little about her work on her website which is a pity.

Lois Wallace

Perfect Day | copyright Lois Wallace
Oil on copper, 29 x 34 cm
Referencing places that are inspired by the sublime, the epic, and the overwhelming, my paintings are concerned with depicting movement and stillness, presence and absence. I am interested in creating a narrative that is beautiful, but at the same time unsettling. I work in oil on unprimed copper. This is a lustrous support to use, as the copper glows through the layers of paint to create light and atmosphere. The connection with the history of painting through the use of traditional techniques is important, and my narratives develop this in a contemporary context.Lois Wallace
Lois Wallace with her small painting
Lois Wallace - Lois Wallace is a contemporary British Artist. Working with Paint on copper and paper, with galleries in London and Berlin. Trained at the Slade School of Art. Exhibited widely in the UK and abroad. Senior Lecturer in Fine Art at Birmingham School of Art, Birmingham City University until 2017.

Panel of Selectors

This year’s Panel of Selectors comprised three women and the Chair of the panel - Lewis McNaught, Director of Mall Galleries (web page). The other panel members were:
I have to say I think they have created a very strong exhibition with a lot of excellent work which is actually figurative artwork as I know it (i.e. much less airy fairy and arty farty this year!).  I also think the Selectors will have been very challenged to come up with a shortlist of just six.

Exhibition Review

I'll also be doing
  • a Review of the exhibition later this week - and the changes this year compared to previous years.
  • to do my shortlist of what I liked. However the selectors picked two of the ones I had identified as definitely shortlist able - including the winner - even without seeing them in the gallery.
I need to go back and do another visit for the shortlist as I always find I look at pics differently after a couple of days away.

ARCHIVE - The First Nine Years of the Threadneedle Prize

- Overview of the artists selected for The ColumbiaThreadneedle Prize 2016 - including images and links to artists' websites.

2018 Threadneedle Prize

2016 Threadneedle Prize

2014 Threadneedle Prize

2013 Threadneedle Prize

2012 Threadneedle Prize

2011 Threadneedle Prize

2010 Threadneedle Prize

2009 Threadneedle Prize

2008 Threadneedle Prize

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