The Ashurst Emerging Artist Prize, now in its fifth 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 30 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 shortlisted artists are representative of the wider idea’s entrants were exploring through their submissions around the current age of the Anthropocene and the man-made and natural worlds, to the exploration of the body, identity and how this is affected by the current cultural climate. Within the 2019 shortlist itself work explores sense of self within a personal and universal context, questions diversity and stereotyped representation of minorities and looks at people's relationship to both domestic and commercial settings.
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!
Alessandra Bettolo is an Italian-born and London-based architect, designer and painter.
Her practice is concerned with exploring the harm society causes by dividing people according to artificial constraints of colour, ethnicity, gender, geography, religion and politics. Through her paintings she aims to break down stereotypes and challenge discrimination through reframing her subjects.
Born in Bologna and based in the UK, Alessandra Brown explores notions of lost identity through her photographic practice. She works with objects that contain a sense of fragility and the ideas she explores evolve as they are being transformed by time and space. This shift in context allows the artist to see beyond their original meaning and re-appropriate them to create her own ‘histories’.
Originally from Pakistan, Amber Arifeen works between London and Karachi and has an MA in Painting from Wimbledon College of Arts. Through her mixed media practice Amber recalibrates the ways of seeing and being eastern and female using portraiture of females as a way of contextualising the female experience through patterns, objects and imagery. Drawing on ideas about embodiment, spaces and identity, Amber's practice seeks to challenge regimes of representation and instead offers to re-examine Asian female subjectivity and spectatorship by presenting her subjects through a new lens, one that does not sit within the male or postcolonial gaze.
Photographic artist Amelia Lancaster is based in London and originally trained in architecture and set design before becoming an artist. She is interested in Brutalist architecture and Modernist housing estates and more recently – through a residency on the South Kilburn Estate - has been documenting the regeneration of this area. Her shortlisted work records the demolition of this place in a way that gives reverence to lived experience within the properties and creates a memory of the community before urban transformation. Layers of the block are stripped away revealing traces of past lives. The starkness, scale and perspective create an impression of a decaying cellular structure reflecting the end of an era.
Painter Anna Kenneally studied her degree in Fine Art in Bath Spa University. Her practice explores love, death, beauty and tragedy. Taking references from mythology, history painting, folklore and also current issues, the paintings become tarot-like symbols for their subject or emotion. Using the idea of the artist as the subject her paintings allow muse and maker to become one and to uncover the many faces of the artist; from historic depictions of the tortured or the suffering artist, to the more bohemian and romantic idea we have of creative people. She reinvents existing subjects, to form a hybrid between the historical and the contemporary.
Anna Perach is originally from the Ukraine and is currently completing her MA in Fine Art at Goldsmiths. Anna’s practice draws on experiences and memories of Soviet domestic environment and their encounter with Israeli culture. She explores how immigration and cultural transitions influence the formation of one’s sense of self in relation to family, community and heritage. She is interested in examining the role of the ‘other’ as it’s defined by one’s community as well as a subjective experience. Her sculptural work integrates these ideas and explores the domestic space as an extension of the self where otherness is performed through mundane rituals and decor.
Currently completing her BA in Fine Art at City & Guilds of London Art School, London based oil painter Anna Stevenson is an artist working in abstraction inspired by the urban landscape. In abstaining from the figure Anna instead depicts their presence through their creations and habitat, through a process of layering and rearranging the landscape Anna aims to transform the mystical ambience found in the city to the visual, aiming to unlock the psyche of the human presence in its environment. Ultimately her canvas becomes a map and reflection of this process of understanding, the canvas becoming a documentation of her journey as opposed to an endpoint in itself.
In addition to her studies, she is a current member of the young artist collective 'In the Studio' organised by the Mall Galleries, with whom she will be exhibiting later this year.
California-based photographer Brendon Kahn’s work explores today’s reality, guided by competition alongside the fierce longing to ascend into what many call paradise. What lies in this pursuit are strangely manufactured channels of both sincerity and unsettling moments that make us question our ultimate wishes. These uncomfortable forms of excess, desire and hope to live forever, tie us together but also create further separation than ever before in this consummate dance to the finish line. Working the medium of photography enables him to unify a world of opposition where tension is unconsciously programmed.
Chris Shaw Hughes
British artist Chris Shaw Hughes has completed both a BA and an MA in Fine Art at the University of Brighton. Through painstakingly crafted paintings and drawings, Chris documents important geographical terrains and significant historical snapshots that are at once both visually arresting and thought provoking. His highly detailed work captures moments of tension that are often overexposed in the news and asks us to reflect on their meaning in greater depth. Currently his practice is heavily engaged with methods of mechanical reproduction - using both photography and carbon paper.
Chinese artist Chuanzi Huang is currently completing her MA in Fine Art at Wimbledon College of Arts. Her painting practice revolves around the way subjects exist in different social-cultural contexts. She is interested in current changes in contemporary society and the increasing speed with which these occur, which have forced human beings to adjust psychologically in a much shorter time.
Edward Murray is currently completing his part time MA at Norwich University. His sculptural practice seeks to represent the transient nature of reality. Materials which we consider as waste products, plastic bags and cardboard used briefly then discarded, form sculptural objects. These abstract, architectonic forms, poised precariously on tentative legs, perhaps technologically complex creations of our time, a testament to genius and fragility. The potential for these forms to be enshrined in bronze, preserved and made sacred for perpetuity, opens the door to the question of the validity of the quest for permanence, the attempt to fix a moment in time, to find solace in the restless, transient ephemera of existence.
Elliot Nehra is in his second year of a BA in Fine Art at the University of Brighton, he was shortlisted for the Ashurst Emerging Artist Prize in 2018 and has now had his new work selected again. His paintings depict a fabricated space that is at once surreal and perfectly ordinary. The everyday inspires the work; the paintings materialise as an instinctive response to the world, commenting on Nehra’s life, experiences, feelings, memories and background. The multifaceted, complicated nature of masculinity, of being and becoming a man is explored. Nehra creates a reality that he and the viewer can get lost in, where paint is celebrated, and colour is enjoyed. The viewer is invited to step into the ambiguous scenes and question the significance of the simple objects he depicts which are loaded with iconography and metaphor.
Originally from Ireland Elva is currently studying for her MA in Fine Art at the Royal College of Art. Conceptually driven, her practice examines the role of mathematics and abstraction in contextualising and re-contextualising an understanding of who and where we are, social science concerns, repeating patterns and of aesthetics. Her current work explores the political, sociological and emotional state of the nation of Britain.
To date Elva’s primary degree in Economics and analysis of data informs her practice. Analysis of numbers/data and formulae increasingly determines the manner in which many aspects of our lives are structured, managed, understood and valued.
She presents layers of information, and through paint, colour, movement and video question what is pertinent, accurate or real. In a world where we are presented with an abundance of information in a multiplicity of contexts, she invites the viewer to ask themselves what really matters.
Digital nomads, the Brazilian artists Raquel Palis and Paulo Ramos collaborate to form the collective ‘Forevermore’. The duo use augmented reality as their medium to highlight discrepancies between the analog/real and virtual worlds, and observe what happens when these environments collide. The duo investigate how we are influenced by digital communication on a large-scale by pushing the boundaries of contemporary art, engaging demographics with innovative use of technology and empowering the public in order to get them exploring narratives beyond the digital.
Russian artist Ilya Ivankin uses analogue photography as his medium and is interested in spiritual, psychological and social conflicts, influenced by philosophers Sartre and Meillassoux. He uses analogue methods to take ultimate control away from how he creates his works and encourage discussion around the intrinsic value of human subjectivity and imperfection.
UK based sculptor John Williams is intrigued by the idea that we have a sense of self; a self based upon memories of the experiences of life. Simultaneously and distinct from that, a self that is able to observe thoughts from a separate, objective perspective.
His sculptures take the form of mute fragments of the physical body that encourage the viewer to complete the image. Strict classical Greek depiction of the ideal figure together with visual references to fossils, are competing aesthetics which fascinate John.
In a world that is preoccupied with the human condition John makes art that addresses the fundamental questions of who we are and why we are here, exploring the foundation of human essence and spirituality.
Kira Phoenix K’Inan
London-based artist and designer Kira Phoenix K’inan brings together fine art and craft by though her glass sculptures. Kira’s artwork explores the nature of drawing and how inter-twisting each line creates works that are in a constant visual flux.
While Kira was a Masters student at the Royal College of Art she explored traditional glass techniques and translated them into a contemporary series of glass sculptures. She developed a unique technique of low relief drawing, the Relief Drawing Technique, where she carved directly into a plaster sheet and cast the piece using fine ground glass.
French painter Marie Lenclos is now based in London and uses the city as her inspiration. Marie’s oil paintings capture moments of light and order within the urban chaos. Often mundane or domestic, the landscapes or interiors she paints present themselves to her during her journey to or from work across South London.
She is interested in the angle, composition, set of colours and the way the lines fall of familiar architecture and scenes: a painting imposes itself in this moment.
The resulting works present a unique stillness in urban spaces and architecture. The paintings work like long exposure photographs, intensifying colours and removing traces of people and activity, allowing both artist and observer to contemplate the interplay of colour, light and form in the physical environments we inhabit.
Matthew Mifsud was born in Luqa, Malta. He attended the University of Malta where he read Chemistry and Biology. After a brief stint working in the pharmaceutical industry, he moved to Edinburgh where he completed an MA in Creative Advertising before moving to London. His work in advertising heavily influences his current artistic style where he takes inspiration from architecture and plays with colour and the balance of light and dark to create his paintings.
Born in Paris, France, Nicolas Laborie is a London based Wet Plate Collodion artist and commercial photographer/videographer.
His photographic work is based on social commentary, human condition and gender equality using the Wet Plate Collodion process, mixing a 19th century photographic process and technique, with a contemporary subject.
His shortlisted series The Suffragettes: Millennial Rebels series are presented using Wet Plate Collodion photography, in collaboration with Milliner Claire Strickland who created all the hats for the series.
To celebrate the 100 years anniversary for the vote for women in UK - Representation of the People Act 1918 - Young millennial women were invited to pose and reflect on what the anniversary means to them. The young women, aged 16 to 20 years old are here represented as Suffragettes who fought for the right to vote for women in the UK.
Noa Pane was born in Rome and is based in London. Her current work often consists of sculptures and on-site installations, often working with recycled materials or using materials that can be found in ordinary workshops, like clamps, straps, and scaffolding, which return to their general use after the exhibition.
She often combines those materials with inflatable and fluid elements like air and water (essential factors of our environment that are often taken for granted), using things like bubbles and balloons as adaptable elements that can fill and react to their environment in different ways. These impermanent materials are both playful but can also disappear at any moment making them a 'tense' object, under internal and external pressure; you inflate it and you have to take care of it.
London based Israeli artist Noga Shatz is a mixed media visual artist working with painting, printmaking, drawing, collage and sound. She completed her MA in Fine Art at the Slade School of Fine Art in 2015.
Her practice deals with a body in a state of conflict. This body is both physical and metaphorical.
In her recent work Shatz has been creating mono-type prints; using the immediate transfer of the applied image, and the mirroring nature of this technique, she explores ideas and images originating from her personal experiences as an artist living in a foreign culture. Through an autobiographical perspective, she examines wider environments controlled by notions of loss and alienation.
In her shortlisted series; ‘The Handkerchiefs’, she is depicting memories, then folding them back into themselves, transforming the 2-dimensional image into an object- a memento. Each handkerchief holds a memory of an actual physical place, depicted as she re-remembers it through the action of creating, which restore and reinvent new narratives.
Painter and new media artist Roberto Grosso takes inspiration from music and produces his work on metal, metallic paper or Perspex. The key elements of his artworks are the use of vibrant colours and augmented reality - which brings the artwork to life by showing the stages of its creation to a soundtrack of the music that inspired it.
Ruth Brenner is a Scottish sculptor and installation artist living and working in Newcastle upon Tyne. She is currently working on a practice led PhD combining a study of phenomenology and sculptural practice to research corporeality and the bodily acts of making.
Corporeality is the quality of being or having a material body, therefore Brenner’s work engages with: the physical and mental act of making, material exploration in relation to elemental materials, elemental processes and direct engagement with materials. The influences of corporeality are central to her practice as the work has a direct association to her bodily dimensions; physical ability; sensory awareness and her relationship with the material. Making is, therefore, inextricably linked with the outcome which is a visual record of cognitive processes. When emotion, perception and material work together, they become one.
In an attempt to close the gap between the theoretical and the practical, Brenner’s work aims to celebrate the immersive experience of using one’s hands to engage with the materials of the world whilst giving the embodied practice of making theoretical underpinning.
The Painter Sam Rachamin with Iraqi-American and Israeli roots, is based in Paris.
After growing up in very violent and militant circumstances in Israel he chose painting and art as a refuge. He believes that his gift is painting and that the way he can change this world for the best is by creating art and teaching others to paint. He is a figurative realistic painter that works from nature and the model. Sam uses versatile modern and old master techniques to create his paintings.
Bristol based Sarah Selby is an interdisciplinary artist interested in creative applications of pervasive technology. Born at the intersection of the Millennials and 'iGeneration', her work is heavily inspired by her unique perspective on the rapid changes in technology and the societal impacts of this. She explores the relationship between the digital and physical through tangible objects that fuse our two worlds - exploring how they overlap, contradict and impact one another.
Sarah graduated from Interactive Arts at Manchester Metropolitan University in 2017 and was awarded the MMU Science Community Award after being selected to participate in interdisciplinary residency 'Roche Continents'. She was also recently selected for Arebyte Gallery's 'Hotel Generation' programme.
Sophie Peters is a self-taught visual artist interested in the use of art in protecting human rights and disrupting societal assumptions (particularly regarding gender roles, power systems, consumerism and identity). She works primarily with paint, but also explores the use of mixed media, text and film. Sophie believes in the intersection of art with science and its involvement in everyday discourses. She was born in Minnesota but grew up in the south of England.
After many years working as a teacher of deaf children, Susan recently completed an MA in Creative Practice at Leeds Arts University and now works as an experimental artist/printmaker.
Her practice reflects a continuing interest in visual language and storytelling, her work is concerned with the temporal materiality of landscapes and the way that, over time, they are constantly in a state of flux; transformed and recast by human intervention. Printed imagery developed using discarded and eroding books, found within a local landscape, reveal a palimpsest of layers that are organic, temporal and physical, and which question the reality of the past, present and future. The vibrancy between object and environment creates tension as the fragile landscape seeks to assert itself above the increasingly overwhelming impact of humanity.
Thomas Webb is a British born new media artist living in London, UK. His practice orbits around real time data and how it can be applied to reveal present contemporary life. Thomas produces works that are programmed using numerous server systems connected to real time data sources and social media. His work presents a fluid account of emotion defined by the millions of users it gathers information from.
Wu Ziwei is a new media contemporary artist from China currently studying an MA in Computational Arts at Goldsmiths. Her artworks are mainly based on biology, science and their influence in society. Wu uses a range of media like painting, installation, Audio-Visual, 2D and 3D animation, VR, mapping and so on.
Oaktree & Tiger Team
Art experts giving advice to emerging artists to build their careers and find success. Organisers of the Ashurst Emerging Artist Prize 2018, artist agent and art consultants.