Friday, April 05, 2024

Derwent Art Prize Exhibition 2024 - Prizewinners

Yesterday, I visited The Derwent Art Prize 2024 Exhibition at gallery@oxo in London and this post is a review of the exhibition and the competition.
the Derwent Art Prize is now very much an international prize and one seen as prestigious to the careers of young up and coming illustrators. (from my review of the 2020 Exhibition)
This is my first post about the Derwent Art Prize - focusing on the prizewinners. 

My second will come shortly and will focus on the exhibition. 
I'll also be uploading my photos of the exhibition to a folder on my Facebook Page

The Derwent Art Prize - the competition

What's remarkable about this art competition is that:
  • It has more entries than most national art societies: This competition received more than 6,000 entries 
  • It attracts entries from a very large number of countries: entries were received from 77 countries,
  • 68 artworks - of a very high standard - were selected for The Derwent Art Prize Exhibition 
  • Five artists received over £13,000 in prizes at the opening, on Wednesday 3 April 2024. (see below)
At the end of this post you can see my posts reviewing previous exhibitions.

The exhibition is free to visit at gallery@oxo, London
  • from 11am to 6pm, from 4th April to 13th April, and 
  • from 11am to 2pm on the closing day, 14th April 2024, 
  • with daily artist demonstrations.

Derwent Art Prize 2024: Prizewinners

Three of the prizewinners

The shortlist and winners were chosen by an international panel of art professionals: 
  • Sergio Gomez, Miami-based artist and gallery director; 
  • Curtis Holder, London-based artist; 
  • Valérie Sonnier, artist and professor, Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Paris; and 
  • Helen Waters, Director, Cristea Roberts, London.

First Prize (£4,000 and a year's supply of Derwent Art Products)

This was awarded to June Collier for Hetty in Hospital 1.

June Collier Hetty in hospital - 2020
oil paint and pencil on canvas - 80cm x 65cm

All four selectors were profoundly moved by the depth of sensibility displayed in this work, stirring profound emotion.
“June Collier’s work stood out immediately. It’s incredible the way she manages to convey so much emotion with such minimal mark-making.  All four of us were really moved by this portrait.” Helen Waters. 
“June Collier invites us into her world of personal and intimate moments. Her willingness to share such vulnerable experiences, through her beautifully rendered lines and pared-back use of colour, is a testament to the profound power artists possess in conveying emotions beyond the limitations of language. We were deeply inspired by June’s work, not just her technical ability, but the skill she showed to evoke such raw and authentic feelings, reminding us of the transformative impact art can have on our lives.” Curtis Holder.
It reminds me a lot of the painting which won a past President of the Royal Society of Portrait Artists, Daphne Todd PPRSPP, NEAC , the BP Portrait Award in 2010. The painting was of her dead mother. (see Daphne Todd wins BP Portrait Award 2010).

It also reminds me of how, when people (or animals) die or are dying, as an artist you are impelled to draw them. Unless it's happened to you, you might think this is very odd. However, essentially, it's about respecting the individual being and recording him or her in a way which is much more sensitive and respectful than a photograph.

Some details about June Collier
  • Nationality: British
  • Occupation: artist and art teacher
  • Current home: London
  • Art education: 1961-1964 Slade School - where she was awarded a number of prizes
  • Previous appearances in this award: 2018
  • Website:
  • Instagram:
  • Previous Competitions: Royal Academy Summer Exhibition 2009,2010; The Cheltenham Open 1996
  • Previous Awards: ?
This is a video about The Hospital Series produced by June Collier

'The Hospital Series', an interview with June Collier | June Collier Project from julian triandafyllou on Vimeo.

Second Prize (£2,000)

The Second Prize was awarded to Polly Townsend for her black and white landscape drawing Ice, Antarctica in charcoal, ink and watercolour.

Polly Townsend -  Ice, Antarctica
Charcoal, ink and watercolour, 75 x 95cm.

Based in London, the artist draws on her solitary journeys through many of the most remote and hostile landscapes in the world. A personal response to the vast frozen wilderness, this particular artwork was inspired by her residency in Antarctica in January 2023.

I characterized her as follows when she was a finalist for the last Threadneedle Prize in 2018
Polly Townsend - Polly paints mountains and big landscapes. BA University of Wales, Aberystwyth, UK (First Class Honours); MFA Slade School of Fine Art, London, UK; she's won a number of travel scholarships and has done artist residencies and projects in mountains all over the world (do take a look)- and painted mountains in Kyrgyzstan, Kasmir, Alaska, Norway, China etc. 
She's also been covered by numerous publications of various kinds and the list of various public collections she is in is somewhat unique! It includes the US Embassies in Beijing, Karachi and Mumbai!

  • Nationality: British
  • Occupation: Artist
  • Current home: London
  • Art education: 
    • (1999-01) MFA Slade School of Fine Art, London, UK; 
    • (1996-99) BA University of Wales, Aberystwyth, UK (First Class Honours)
  • Previous appearances in this award: None
  • Website:
  • Facebook Page:
  • Instagram:
  • Exhibitions: a number of solo exhibitions since 1999 - including:
    • 2024 Forthcoming, Antarctic Paintings, John Martin Gallery, London, UK
    • 2024 Forthcoming, Antarctica, Houses of Parliament, London, UK
  • Previous Competitions: The Columbia Threadneedle Prize (2018); ING Discerning Eye 2017; Finalist in Jackson Art Prize UK 2019; Finalist in Gilchrist-Fisher Landscape Painting Prize, UK (2008); The Slade School of Fine Art Duveen Travel Scholarship (2001); The Princes Drawing School / Malcolm Forbes Foundation Travel Scholarship (2001)
  • Previous Awards:

    There are also three other prizes

    Second and First Prizewinners

    The Young Artist First Prize (£4,000)

    This was awarded to George Metu-Onyeka of Nigeria and latterly the UK for his hyper realistic self-portrait, Untitled.

    George took over 150 hours to create this drawing, using intricate pencil marks. His work stands for an artist at a time of transition.

    I've come across George before - see below.

    George Metu-Onyeka, Untitled,
    Graphite on paper, 56 x 38cm.

    He said about the drawing
    “I wanted to take my time in capturing every detail that I could and I’m glad I did. This work embodies what I felt like after I finished university, not knowing what I wanted to do, basically post-university depression. Getting lost in your thoughts at random moments, questioning whether you made the right decision. I’m slowly coming out of it after realising that these things take time, and with time I’ll get where I want to be.”
    My blog is an archive of previous references to an artist and - because he appeared in the third heat of Portrait Artist of the Year (and was shortlisted) - I researched his background them and came up with this
    George Metuwonyake - no website. Age 17, George is the one who draws with a pencil using a technique he invented for himself. He grew up in Nigeria and came to the UK 6 years ago.
    If he was 17 in 2018, and about to go to university later that year. He'll be aged 23 now - with a degree.

    As I said at the time
    That said, as recognised by the Judges, to be age 17 and to have already invented your own language for drawing is pretty stupendous. He will go to art school - and this programme will help make that happen - and he will do well.
    I've got pretty good at spotting talent and making predictions over the last 18 years of writing this blog! (You can read my2018  post in Review: Episode 3 of Portrait Artist of the Year 2018)
    • Nationality: Nigerian / British
    • Occupation: artist (part-time / full-time??)
    • Current home: Barking, London
    • Art education: University of Notthingham (2018-2021)
    • Previous appearances in this award: None?
    • Previous Competitions: George appeared on Portrait Artist of the Year in 2018.
    • Previous Awards: None. This will be his first I think.
    My recommendation to George would be to get himself a website and/or an Instagram account as well as a LinkedIn profile - and start showing people his art online.

    The Young Artist Second Prize (£2,000)

    Bethan Harris, Low Branches,
    coloured pencil, Wax pastel on paper, 62 x 59cm.

    I'm. a big fan of people who make marks using lines so as you can imagine I liked this one a lot! It's intricate and complex and yet apparently simple at the same time.
    My style of drawing involves creating short marks that communicate interactions between objects. I particularly like to visualise intangible aspects of nature such as light or wind and reimagine them by creating lines that evoke the directions of light, the changing colours, or movements in the landscape.

    The Judges commented

    “Bethan Harris’ work radiates such exciting energy and demonstrates a mastery of colour. Bethan really encouraged us to see beyond the surface and immerse ourselves in the landscape she created. The talent of this young artist marks her as one to watch for the future.” Curtis Holder
    “This vibrant piece is a colourful orchestra of rhythm and detail, offering an abstract glimpse into nature's mysteries. She offers viewers an abstract glimpse into the enigmatic forms of nature, depicted through branches and foliage. What particularly resonates with me is her departure from straightforward representation, opting instead to explore the realms of imagination and creativity. Her artistic freedom invites us to envision a fresh perspective on reality.” Sergio Gomez. 
    Not a lot of information about her online......
    • Nationality: British
    • Occupation: Artist
    • Current home: Newcastle? 
    • Art education: Fine Art graduate from Newcastle University. 
    • Previous appearances in this award: ?
    • Website: has a domain name but no website (she may have forgotten to renew something?)
    • Instagram:
    • Previous Competitions: ?
    • Previous Awards: ?

      The New Artist Award (£500)

      This was awarded to Melissa Ling for Submission - whose website suggests she is a big fan of red!

      I was slightly puzzled by the notion of this being an award to "a new artist" as Melissa is far from being a new artist. However this prize is for somebody who has never entered The Derwent Art Prize competition before.

      This is a very impressive piece. There's a lot more subtlety to the mark-making than is first apparent at a distance. Plus there's no chance of missing it on the mark - it positively commands you to come over and take a closer look.

      Melissa Ling, Submission,
      coloured pencil on paper, 45.7 x 106.7 cm.

      “I love Melissa Ling’s bold choice of using one colour across the whole image. It’s even more impressive seeing the work in real life to experience its scale.”  Helen Waters

      Do take a look at her website and Instagram account. Her artwork is very interesting. I've seen her artwork before - both as paintings and drawings - and they're very different. (See for example my review of Jackson's Painting Prize 2023 Exhibition at Bankside Gallery which she won.)

      I very much prefer her drawings.

      • Nationality: American
      • Occupation: 
        • Artist - who has been exhibiting on a regular basis since 2013
        • Visiting Professor, Sophmore & Senior Thesis class, Parsons School of Design, New York, NY – 2020-2022
      • Current home: New York 
      • Art education: Bachelor of Fine Arts, Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, NY – 2010
      • Previous appearances in this award: None
      • Website:
      • Instagram: 
      • Previous Competitions: Trinity Buoy Wharf Drawing Prize Shortlist – 2023
      • Previous Awards: Jackson’s Painting Prize Overall Winner – 2023

      The People's Choice Prize (£500)

      All visitors can go to to vote for their favourite to win the People's Choice Prize, worth £500.

      REFERENCE: Derwent Art Prize on Making A Mark

      Chrys Allen - Winner of the First Derwent Art Prize in 2013

      6th Derwent Art Prize 2022

      • Call for Entries: Derwent Art Prize 2022
      • No review from me - because I was recovering from ankle surgery at the time of the exhibition and was mobilising on one leg with a knee scooter for 12 weeks!
      • which probably explains why I wasn't contacted about it for the seventh edition in 2024.

      5th Derwent Art Prize 2020

      4th Derwent Art Prize 2018

      1278 artists from 64 different countries submitted a total of 3,299 artworks and 57 were selected for the exhibition.

      3rd Derwent Art Prize 2016

      2nd Derwent Art Prize 2014

      1st Derwent Art Prize 2013

      About Derwent and the Cumberland Pencil Company

      The Art Prize carries the "Derwent" brand name of the Cumberland Pencil Company who in turn are part of ACCO (formerly Rexel).
      • The Cumberland Pencil Company was created in 1916
      • The first Derwent colour pencil was introduced in 1938.
      • In 2008, the Cumberland Pencil Company left the old pencil factory in Keswick and moved to its new Pencil Factory on a site at Lillyhall, Workington.
      • The Derwent Pencil Museum maintains a presence in Keswick, where pencils first started being made in 1832 - after graphite was found in Borrowdale in the 1500s.
      In the past, Derwent has been very active in relation to other exhibitions besides this prize

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