The Signature Art Prize 2019
Somerset House, New Wing
Strand, London, WC2R 1LA
United Kingdom




Tel: (+44) 020 3701 7411

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Painting Winner Dorian Radu and his piece 'Captive in a Yellow House'

After applications opened in May 2018, we were overjoyed to receive a stream of entries, consistent both in quality and volume.

Held at Bankside Hotel on Thursday 31st January 2019, the Gala night showcased the finalists, selected by an expert panels of judges, in the mediums of Painting, Sculpture, Photography & Film and Drawing & Printmaking from over 500 submissions from artists from around the world. Two further winners were announced on the night; following the public ballot, Gala guests selected the People's Choice Winner. Co-Founders Elinor Olisa and Isobel Beauchamp announced their Directors' Pick. 

Needless to say, our esteemed panel of judges had some incredibly tough decisions to make when it came to the judging. The discrepancy between what constitutes fine art as opposed to decorative, whether commerciality was a plus or minus, and what exactly constitutes an artist’s ‘signature’ piece were among the topics up for debate.



Charlie Lang’s sculptures ride on brute materiality and a floppy sense of humour. With raw materials like concrete, steel, and timber he marries their urban, hard and stern qualities with a bentness, sag, snap and bow.

Charlie Lang’s sculptures reveal themselves through a slapstick parody of their materials. They invite our connotations of strength, purpose and construction that we are all familiar with, as building blocks of the biggest man-made objects we encounter; buildings, bridges, roads, etc. These ties to the outside world become part of how his sculptures are shaped in the context of the studio or gallery, by an aversion of wanting to play to the materials usual destinies. How can they be repurposed to fight the reasons they were created?

Often when working with the materials a conversation emerges between their exhibition space and their materiality. The scale these materials are used to being laboured with in the world is often at odds with the space available to me. They ask to be bigger than big, and hr responds with regret, whilst stuffing them into what space he can. What results is a monumentality with its belt tightened and a colossal indulgence in daftness and absurdity.


Tottie Aarvold is an artist and fine art photographer who focuses on the abstract qualities of the world in paint or through a lens. She sees her photographic images as ‘found paintings’, an organic fusing of both the human and natural world. She is drawn to textures, layers and entropy. Her images are of the abandoned and unnoticed, the unusual and random in everyday life.

Tottie Aarvold’s work is very personal and involves self-exploration. She has worked for many years as a psychotherapist which has led to her interest in the hidden and revealed, in what lies beneath. Aarvold creates a story, an uncertainty and psychological confusion in her work. She aims to convey pathos and loss, to show the barriers between reality and illusion.

It is important to her that the photographic image is as she saw it, that it isn’t highly manipulated in Photoshop. She uses natural light and never alters a scene. The camera is her eye, it captures what stands out for her in the world.


Dorian Radu is a multiple award-winning artist, focusing on realistic and hyper-realistic portrait painting. With over 14 years of experience, he has been commissioned to paint pieces destined to prestigious private collectors such as the Romanian Royal Family, the BBC TV Series “Cradle to Grave”, as well as numerous other prestigious collectors. In 2017, Dorian was selected to exhibit in the Royal Institute of Oil Painters, winning the L. Cornelissen Prize as well. In 2018, his work has been selected for the Royal Scottish Academy OPEN, where both of his submitted pieces were successful. Overall, Dorian’s work is now present in more than 80 private collections worldwide. 

Dorian Radu'’s art is at a junction between traditional and contemporary principles, in the sense that the main aim is to bring back the aesthetics and criteria of traditional portrait painting and also identify the role of portraiture in contemporary art. For centuries, portraits used to be a baronial symbol of wealth and loftiness. In addition to the former purposes, contemporary portraiture brings along limitless possibilities of questioning and critiquing the perception around the human figure. 


The artist Ana Sofia Restrepo is interested in documenting stories born from random encounters as a way of directing attention to the quotidian. The little moments which fill everyday life and make it special, but might seem insignificant next to big milestones.

The drawing ‘On the train’ was created after seeing a man traveling on his own to London. He was completely absorbed in something he was listening to, almost unaware of his surroundings. There was a singular contrast between the sense of isolation and the crowded place. However, his was a voluntary isolation, it talked about purpose and enjoyment. In the drawing, the white space in the window and the omission of the passengers, help focus the viewer's attention on the man. Hoping to make them part of the experience shared by the artist traveling next to him.

In public spaces, one has the chance to share a few minutes with strangers. There’s a momentary connection, and it is easy to observe each other and get a glimpse into the stories of others. What is perceived and the observer’s interpretation combine to create tales and characters part evidence and part imagination.





Dayna Lee and Ted Berner are founders and principal designers of Powerstrip Studio. Graduates of Rhode Island School of Design with Fine Arts degrees, both are international award-winning designers. With their background in motion picture industry art direction, Dayna and Ted have established a reputation for their cinematic approach to design. After college, Dayna and Ted worked in media, fashion and the film industry providing concept design and graphic design for photographer Helmut Newton, illustration for designer Ralph Lauren, and editorial New York Times. Lee and Berner have each received Emmy Award nominations for Outstanding Art Direction for “Sting, All this Time.” Their careers include work for films by Ridley Scott, Paul T Anderson, Jim Jarmusch and Kevin Costner. All experiences led to the creation of Powerstrip Studio, an LA based multidisciplinary design studio of interior designers and architects specializing in conceptual design and execution of public and private environments. With diverse international projects in urban, resort, and mountain locations, Powerstrip Studio was awarded 2017 Best Hotel Design in Europe under 200 Keys) International Hotel and Properties / Design et Al, for their design of Hotel Zoo in Berlin and 2018 Best Suites Design in North Americas & Caribbean International Hotel and Properties / Design et Al, for their design of Seafire Resort & Spa. Current projects are culturally diverse and in East Berlin, London in Southbank and Westminster, the Teton Mountains of Jackson Hole, the island of Grand Cayman, glass skyscraper in Indonesia and historic guesthouses in Key West.




Zoe Laughlin is a co-founder/director of the Institute of Making and the Materials Library project. She holds an MA from Central Saint Martin's College of Art and Design and obtained a PhD in Materials within the Division of Engineering, King's College London. Working at the interface of the science, art, craft and design of materials, her work ranges from formal experiments with matter, to materials consultancy and large-scale public exhibitions and events with partners including Tate Modern, the Hayward Gallery, the V&A and the Wellcome Collection. Her particular areas of interest are currently The Sound of Materials, The Taste of Materials and The Performativity of Matter, with outputs ranging from theatrical demonstration lectures to the making of instruments and features on both radio and television.


Milo Dickinson joined Christie’s in the European Sculpture department in January 2012. Since then he has been involved in several notable sales, including the sale of a bronze Mannerist masterpiece by Adriaen de Vries for $28 million to the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, which now holds the world record price for an early European sculpture at auction. Milo ran the highly successful Collection of a Distinguished Swiss Gentleman and contributed to several important collection sales including Living with Art, the collection of Professor Sir Albert RichardsoN, the Abbott Guggenheim collection of Renaissance bronzes, as well as the extraordinary exhibition of works from the collection of Hubert de Givenchy in Paris.






Norfolk-born artist Lee Madgwick was born in 1980, he studied Graphic Design at the Norwich University College of the Arts, graduating in 2003. With an undercurrent of mischievous menace throughout, the subject matter is at once thrown into question, creating a narrative - albeit a subjective one. 

Lee paints on canvas in oils and acrylics - a play of light is used to generate an abundance of seemingly inexplicable moods to contrast with a brooding sky. Lee has exhibited widely in UK galleries and in art fairs in London, New York, Amsterdam, Singapore and Milan. In 2009 he won Best in Show at the Eastern Open Exhibition, Kings Lynn Arts Centre, where he was also a winner of the Wyss Foundation Painting Award in 2013. He has also been selected for The Royal Academy Summer Exhibition in 2009 and 2012 and more recently was elected a member of the Royal Society of British Artists (RBA) where he won the Woodhay Gallery Award in 2010.