Q1: Tell us about your pathway into the Arts?
My pathway to the arts was very natural. I was always interested in aesthetics and history, begging my mother to take me to the National Portrait Gallery from a young age and trying to understand the feat of artistic creation. I had an amazing Art History teacher who, amongst others throughout my education, allowed me to realise I express myself most effortlessly in discussing images and its societal context. I say to many... images predate words, so what better way to understand the world and its beauty? Curating shows came out of my writing, I see the exhibitions I curate as visual essays.
Q2: What are your values within the arts – why do what you do and what do you wish to champion and develop within the art world?
I champion the exploration of identities and how multifaceted they are. This is made more accessible due to current discourse on the many nuances of identity and expression. I champion art that nods to the past and looks to the future. As an art history geek at heart (I studied at the Courtauld Insitute) I love to see new artists create exciting works and understand how they fit within the canon of art history, or if they don’t, why that’s necessary. I am very into painting about painting, so works that refer directly to the process and the materiality. But in the same vein I am so into objects, like the disintegrating works of Dominique White and more ephemeral works and performance, like Jamila Johnson-Small, where her dance exists most potently when present and not from documentation.
Q3: Tell us about your recent past projects
I spent most of last year exploring with my writing; reading the great art critics and expanding on my own writing style which has been hugely therapeutic. I worked as the Digital Editor of Phoenix Magazine, which allowed me to develop my writing further and engage with different technologies and modes of presenting words, images and ideas.
Q5: What kind of art attracts you? (we know this is a really broad and simplistic question but any comments would be great)
Something visually impressive that prompts a response. And whilst paying homage to the canon it sits in, seeks to say or present something new and reflects the issues and questions that interests a contemporary viewer.
Q6: If there is one thing you would like Artists who approach you as a Curator or Critic to do what would it be?
I am always so humbled and flattered when an artist has read, watched or familiarised themselves with my work. But I seek to engage with artists on a similar level to them, not as part of a patriarchal power system in the art world. I would love artists to consider intricate collaboration between curator and artist. As a critic, it is hard to attend and have opinions on every artist's show or work I come across, but I love speaking to artists and am open to letting such conversations complement the opinions I make in my writing.
Interview by Caitlin Smyth
The Ashurst Emerging Artist Prize, now in its fourth year, is open to artists of all ages and backgrounds, whether student, graduate, part-time or full-time, and has become an international competition. The below 25 artists were selected by our Judging panel of experts (we deem them this for their expertise as well as their career successes to date within the art world and you can learn more about them here) and show great emerging talent in both ideas and technique. These entrants present an example of artists whose practices we feel will break through the industry with the right drive and support now.
Prevalent themes in this year’s entrants have centred around identity; gender, heritage, ethnicity, sexuality, and what this means in the current climate. The diverse artworks on display explore the fluidity of gender roles, immigration and migrant identity and also what the role of contemporary art is in society today, among other ideas.
We’re incredibly proud to work with these artists over their year as a shortlisted or winning artist with the prize but our support doesn’t stop there, we are very much focused on supporting all those who enter the prize or join our community and we commit to doing this by offering feedback on every entrant who submits early, offering free career development talks open to entrants and non-entrants alike and a comprehensive blog giving insight into how to navigate prizes and the wider art world, to attract opportunities and projects.
Please do read on, engage with this year's Shortlisted Artists, support them with your constructive feedback and help us create a community that is driven to developing the Self Represented level of the art industry at a time when it has never been more viable to do so!
Tal Regev, an Israeli artist living in London, completed her MA in Painting in 2017 at the Royal College of Art. Tal is concerned with the embodied experience of trauma. Through the materiality of the painting process, she explores memory, loss, separation and the effects of pain. Her works suggest a psychic map of what is held within the body.
Oil on Canvas
190 x 170cm
Annie-Marie Akussah, a Ghanian artist based in London, currently studies at Wimbledon College of Art for a BA in Fine Art. The recurring themes in her work are identity, belonging and the authenticity of identification documents. Her paintings hold colours that resemble the buildings and places expatriates may once have occupied, such as Indian red on the doors of council flats, and ochre on immigration office desks. The multiplicity of materials, techniques and mediums used in her work develops the context and enables her to use different avenues to explore painting without any boundaries. Annie-Marie’s shortlisted work is part of an ongoing series which explores inter-African migration. It uses three West African nations (Ghana, Nigeria and Ivory Coast) as an entry point to discuss certain important migratory movements and commerce, in relation to post independence (particularly between 1969 and 1987). The movement of Africans within Africa is somehow not spoken about in the wider world. In fact, within Ghana for instance, citizens are unaware of the existence of refugee camps but are aware of trade between African countries.
Oil on Canvas and Silk Screen Print
171 x 171cm
Ann Mackowski, originally from San Francisco, is now based in London after having completed an MA in Fine Art at Chelsea College of Art. Her practice explores the different iterations of truth over time, and the overlap of mythology and social history in our interpretation of the world. Ann references both mythological and real historical figures in her work by reconstructing and altering them to explore concepts of visual heritage.
“The Goddess of Crossroads” explores the intersection of vital forces that have shaped the City of London. The patroness of this painting is Trivia, the Roman goddess of crossroads, whose Roman nomenclature means "three roads". Inspired by John Gay's “Trivia”, written in 1714, a poem that frequently uses the trope of London as a body, "The Goddess of Crossroads" expands upon this concept by using topography to include history and pivotal social influences.
London is a fascinating petri dish of intersections--of art and science, history and modernism, organic and man-made spaces, land cultural influences from around the world. This painting binds foundational Romanic architecture from which London evolved, and explores unities of science, myth, literature, art , decay and the natural world. It contains references from the Black Plague to the medical revolution of the late 18th century in which discoveries in anatomy, surgery, pathogenesis and vaccines would change the course of human history. It encourages viewers identify their own intersections when traversing the painting.
The Goddess of Crossroads
Organic Pigment on Paper
85 x 125cm
Elliot Nehra is from England and currently studies at the University of Brighton. Elliot’s practice explores colour and form and how these are used to reflect his own view of the everyday world. Figurative drawing, iconography and symbolistic values recur in his practice. Elliot is not interested in the viewer being able to interpret every single aspect of a painting clearly. Instead his work tackles the unconventional nature of life itself with a mess of thoughts and opinions. Often the work celebrates a current emotional state of mind, honouring the importance of that current time.
Oil, Acrylic and Spray Paint on Canvas
144 x 149cm
Loreal Prystaj is a visual artist based in New York City and London. Presently she is attending the Royal College of Art in London to obtain her MA in Photography. Her work often exposes the relationship between time and space, with a juxtaposition of the human form and its environment. She expresses ideas through her photography and uses the medium consistently – in installation and interactive pieces – as well as using herself as a character or form in her performance and video work. Loreal’s shortlisted piece uses mirrors to highlight overlooked detail and the idea that they are often used to look at minute detail rather than the bigger picture surrounding us.
Reflecting on Nature 2
Inkjet print on Hahnemuhle paper
100 x 70cm
Renata Kudlacek is currently part of the Art and Ethics research group at the University of Edinburgh and the artist project space Berlin Blue art in Berlin, Germany. She critically uses re-enactment and the aftermath of historic scenes in order to look back and construct memories and to make storytelling visible. Much of her recent work relates to the centuries old discussion, which raises the question of life and its origin – the challenge between old standards and the new science that requires constant revision. Renata’s shortlisted work reflects the Petri dish and the mythology of a never ending life within compositions of symbolic and medical images and objects.
Tales of Telomeres I
4 Colour Screenprint and Pencil on Paper, Edition of 7
60 x 60cm
László von Dohnányi
László von Dohnányi currently lives and works in Berlin, Germany, after having studied for a BFA at the Ruskin School of Art. László is a painter who presents work that explores how the body is viewed, in particular the different ways we scan, photograph and expose what is internal. His selected work references the boundaries of the body and how these are now often breached by modern technology.
The Abiogenetic Beings Half Death
László von Dohnányi
Acrylic and Linoprint paint on Arches Handcrafted Oil Paper
200 x 130cm
Richard Graville is from the UK and received an MA in Contemporary Art Practice from Kingston University. As a painter he is interested in sharing visual codes used by animals to warn off predators, which take on the guise of abstract paintings. Richard is fascinated by the correlation between warning colouration in the natural world (bees, poison dart frogs, skunks) and its use in the human environment (hi-vis jackets, emergency vehicles, poison bottles). His shortlisted work is derived from the Postman Butterfly which is highly poisonous.
The False Postman
Flashe on Canvas
100 x 120cm
Pietro Catarinella was born in Rome and studied for an MA in Photography at Central Saint Martins in London. Pietro investigates the changing nature of reality and visual representation in the digital age, exploring the new qualities and limitation of the digital image. His shortlisted work is from the series Data Traffic which is based upon a continuous manipulation of images. These are intersected, mixed and fused together through the use of software, digital technologies and manual intervention. The denial of the single image in assemblages, in which the elements are no longer separable, transforms it into parts of multi-layered networks. This process visualises synthetically the complexity of the digital age, its fragmentation and acceleration, and the accumulation and ubiquity of images.
Inkjet Print on Paper
100 x 100cm
Harry Simmonds was born in Bristol and currently lives and works in Bath, England. He studied Fine Art at the University of Plymouth, Exeter. It was during this period that he started to paint exclusively in black and white/monochrome, making depictions of himself and also of the models who sit for him.
Self Portrait No.9
Ink and Acrylic on Paper
70 x 50cm
Sin Park, born in South Korea and currently based in Glasgow, is currently undertaking a PhD at the Glasgow School of Art. Sin’s paintings explore memory through creating space for invisible visibility and familiar unfamiliarity. She is interested in the moment when something shifts, a metamorphosis that happens often from lack of controls, fears and failures, uncertain certainty in the painting surface, as well as the walk of life she is looking at.
An Attempt at a Dialogue
Acrylic, Marker, Oil pastel and Oil on Canvas
180 x 200cm
Ewelina Skowronska is Polish and living and working between London and Tokyo. She studied Visual Arts at University of the Arts London. Ewelina’s work explores the interplay between colour, shape, perspective and pattern. Her work focuses on ephemeral and unspoken aspects at the point where the combination of screen printing and the delicacy of etching produces a unique and powerful contrast. Her selected work merges familiar shapes with the purely abstract and she pushes the boundaries of images into creations far beyond their initial inspiration.
Screen printing on paper, gold ink
50 x 70cm
Kwanwoo Park is a South Korean born artist who is currently completing an MA in Sculpture at the Royal College of Art, London. His art practice is mostly driven by questions about our being and self-awareness. By designing and constructing objects, spaces and situations he pushes these concerns through concepts such as sense of self and its relation to identity, memory and time. Kwanwoo’s shortlisted work is a periscopic sculpture which allows you to see yourself seeing yourself; this creates an ambivalent moment, constantly changing the position between subject and object.
Aluminium, Wood, Glass
250 x 170 x 16cm
Andy Farr is a UK based Artist who studied for an MA in Painting at the University of Coventry. His practice most recently has focused on moving from the third to the first person. His current collection of artworks are an exploration of the artists memories and experiences of growing up and focus on the emotional memory in recalling a place or situation. Andy’s shortlisted semi-biographical work. touches on memories of his father developing bipolar disorder when he was about 12 and the affect this had on his father’s behaviour and on his family. The piece explores Andy’s emotional memories of his father’s illness, invoking emotions in the viewer that encourages them to confront their own very personal experience in other ways.
Oil and Acrylic on Canvas
180 x 180cm
Lauren Wilson is from the UK and received a BA in Fine Art from University College Falmouth, then a MFA in Sculpture from Slade School of Art in 2014. She looks for quietly political moments to sculpt into a new context; a horse diving from a great height, an ivory miniature of Venus, the mysterious appearance of a donut on Mars. She narrates digressions from these points, tangents directed by obsession, intuition and finding pattern in what otherwise might be seen as random. Her shortlisted work is a dissection of a meeting she had with a fortune teller at Ridley Road Market in Dalston, London.
Synthetic Reproduction of Paranoia
Jesmonite, Steel, Stone Effect Paint, Walnut, Photograph, Friendship Bracelet
30 x 35cm
Abigail Phang Gung Fook
Abigail Phang Gung Fook (PHANGGUNGFOOK) was born in London, to parents who emigrated from the West Indies. She is of mixed heritage. Originally trained as a textile designer she is a recent MA Fine Art graduate of City and Guilds of London Art School. Phanggungfoopk’s practice is autobiographical based on her observations of the people close to her and the shared intimacy with her subjects. Her shortlisted artwork explores the female role in society and the pressures women feel to be perfect. She paints herself wearing high heels, constricted by stereotypical standards of female beauty, but the reality of the tasks that lie ahead is hinted at in the apron she wears.
I Am Not Perfect - When I feel a little wobbly
Abigail Phang Gung Fook (PhangGungFook)
Oil on Canvas
240 x 180cm
Manuel Remeggio is originally from Italy and studied Fine Art in Venice and then at Middlesex University. Manuel’s practice explores the idea of aporia – an internal contradiction or battle. He uses his work to create a dialogue on this battle, explored through his visual decisions. His shortlisted work is part of the ‘Painting to Improve Life’ series which represent the internal faces or people through their composition.
Oil on Paper
50 x 40cm
Melissa Pierce Murray is currently an Artists Access to Art Colleges (AA2A) artist-in-residence at Anglia Ruskin University. In her practice she uses a tactile engagement with materials to explore boundaries between interior and exterior worlds, juxtaposing an emotional response against intellectually and culturally constructed narratives. She is informed by poetry, physics and dance, and uses materials ranging from steel, stone and wood, to ice, glass and bubble-wrap. Her shortlisted work comes from a four-part series and explores the precarious resilience she sees in how humans relate to their physical environments and to each other around the globe.
Glass and Steel
7 x 5 x 4cm
Ming Ying was born in China and is based both in China and UK. She completed a BA in Painting at Wimbledon College of Art. Ming mainly focuses on creating oil painting works. In her practice, she explores a personal painting language and devotes herself to bringing a new visual experience of painting to viewers. Her works include strong emotions, rich imagination, philosophical thought and personal experience. She is eager to express her thoughts and thinking of society, life and culture through her artworks.
Oil on Canvas
65 x 90cm
Juan Antonio Cerezuela Zaplana
Juan Antonio Cerezuela Zaplana is from Spain and based in Barcelona. He has a BA in Fine Arts from the University of Granada, and has studied all over the world for his PhD in Visual Arts from the University of Valencia. His work deals with how identity is built through different media and contexts, where language – verbal and textual – occupies an important role and provides the main material that makes up his artistic work. In his shortlisted artwork, he presents the data collected by Google on its homepage during several minutes of silence, to draw attention to our lack of unawareness of this.
Big Silent Data
Juan Antonio Cerezuela Zaplana
Inkjet on Paper Installation
200 x 100 x 10cm
Peihang Huang is London based from Taipei and studied at Chelsea College of Art & Design, receiving an MA in Fine Art. She is a painter who is interested in time, history and the influence of the media. Her recent practice challenges our perception of reality by exploring the hidden relations between visual documents of the human experience. Starting with collages of photographs gleaned from historical sources and everyday media, Peihang looks for the subtle associations that persist through time and space. Her shortlisted work references the forced migration as a result of the Chinese civil war 67 years ago.
Past and Present 1
Oil and Acrylic on Canvas
120 x 120cm
Stephen Doyle is a fine artist from Cork whose work focuses on the Queer community and its interaction with the rest of society. Stephen’s shortlisted work is a discussion on how queer men are redefining male culture. The piece directly asks the viewer to consider which figure they deem to be ‘the man’.
Man and Subject
Painting on Canvas, metal wire
100 x 130 x 10cm
Tom Scotcher lives and works in Hackney, and gained a BA in Graphic Design and Illustration at Central Saint Martins before going on to study on the Postgraduate programme at the Royal Drawing School. Tom has worked as a scenic painter for theatre productions, and his art practice reflects this through an interest in the relationship between performance and the viewer. His shortlisted work aims to make the viewer feel suffocated and unable to walk around without treading on or knocking something over, as if walking on eggshells around the figure. There is a desire in the figure to escape, but an unwillingness to get up and implement any action that is involved in doing so.
Gouache, Acrylic and Ink on Paper
115 x 103cm
Forouzan Nazari & Antony Dixon
Iranian artist Forouzan Nazari and British artist Antony Dixon both recently received a MFA from Wimbledon College of Arts, and collaborate in their practice and research. Through a range of odd objects they explore cross-sensory perception of space and matter and how people understand the idea of expanding territory through their senses. Their shortlisted work suggests furniture legs which have been disrupted by the pouring of jesmonite over them giving the appearance of male and female elements to the work.
Forouzan Nazari & Anthony Dixon
Walnut and Jesmonite
132 x 24 x 24cm
Mustafa Boga is from Turkey and now based in London. He completed an MA in Fine Art at Central Saint Martins, and is interested in the role of contemporary art in our wider society. Mustafa’s practice deals critically (but also humorously) with issues such as gender, national identity, militarism, feminism, masculinity and sexuality. His shortlisted work uses photography to explore his relationship with his family and the clash of familial and cultural traditions, alongside his family’s struggle to understand the value of his practising of contemporary art.
Extraneous Objects No1
50 x 65cm
Oaktree & Tiger Team
Art experts giving advice to emerging artists to build their careers and find success. Organisers of the Ashurst Emerging Artist Prize 2020, artist agent and art consultants.