A TINY oil-on-copper painting of a tent has won the New Light Prize Exhibition main prize, open to artists across the North.
Measuring only 10cm by 15cm, Joanna Whittle’s Sorrowing Cloth received the £10,000 Valeria Sykes Award on the exhibition’s opening night at Scarborough Art Gallery.
Sorrowing Cloth is part of a series of paintings of tents by Sheffield artist Whittle, who says: “My tent paintings represent fragile and temporary structures constructed within notions of the ruin and time passing.
“Canvas sits in water; ropes are pegged into fluid land. Time sits still and moments brush against each other. Canvas rots and weeds scramble over surfaces, but some lights remain on or have just been lit.
“They hold their own histories, ideas of vanished circuses or fairgrounds – events once frenetic now silenced and ominous in dusk or rain.”
The £2,500 Patron’s Choice Award, picked from all the exhibited works, went to Victor Harris, from Waterfoot, Rossendale, in Lancashire, for his oil painting on linen, Forlorn.
Linnet Rubaya, from Leeds, was awarded the Emerging Artists Prize for her acrylic on canvas, Seen. The sponsors, the Saul Hay Gallery, in Manchester, will offer mentoring, professional advice and exhibition opportunities, including a solo show.
Leeds artist Ian Brooks won the Printmakers’ Prize, open to all forms of original printmaking, for his etching Across Borge Bay. The winner will hold an exhibition at the Zillah Bell Gallery, in Thirsk, the prize sponsors, where some of the best British printmakers exhibit.
Harrogate artist Christian Alexander Bailey received the New Light Purchase Prize for his pen-and-ink drawing Tree Sparrow. His winning work has been acquired by the charity to add to its collection.
A final award, the Visitors’ Choice, will be made at the end of the Scarborough exhibition run and announced at the touring show’s next location, Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery in Carlisle. This public award recognises the work that strikes a chord with visitors, who are asked to vote for their favourite artwork.
The judges, who shortlisted the artists by using an anonymous online selection process and concluded the judging together in the gallery, were printmaker and artist Anne Desmet; RA Magazine editor Sam Phillips; Huddersfield Art Gallery curator Grant Scanlan; Catherine and Ian Hay, from the Saul Hay Gallery; John Bell, from the Zillah Bell Gallery; New Light patron Valeria Sykes and New Light chair Annette Petchey.
Annette says: “The high standard of entries has once again astounded the judges, with familiar and new artists showcasing the huge talent in the north of England. “Themes that reflect all of the emotions we have felt as a nation during the 2020 pandemic are captured and reflected across the exhibition: everything from sadness and loneliness to clear optimism and joy in a broad range of media.
“New Light continues to go from strength to strength and it is a delight to work collaboratively with the team at Scarborough Museums Trust.”
Simon Hedges, the trust’s head of curation, collections and exhibitions, says: “I’m delighted with the judges’ choices and I would like to thank both the New Light and the SMT teams for delivering such an amazing show in these most difficult of times.”
After the Scarborough run ends on January 17 2021, the exhibition will move to Tullie House, Carlisle, The Biscuit Factory, Newcastle, and finally The Bankside Gallery, London.
Established in 2010, New Light celebrates and promotes well-known and emerging artists by offering awards and opportunities in its biennial open exhibition. It also runs New Light Art For All, an education programme that includes talks, workshops and school projects, and the New Light Collection, launched in the spring with the aim of making the best in Northern visual arts available to more people by loaning pieces free of charge to public bodies and charities.
“The common thread through everything New Light does is a deep belief that the visual arts matter and the North of England deserves to be celebrated,” says Annette.