The Signature Art Prize 2013/14 Highlights

For the seventh year in a row, welcomed artists and art lovers alike to enjoy the works of 40 handpicked artists for the Signature Art Prize Gala event. Held in Old Spitalfields Market, the pop up exhibition featured works from the disciplines of painting, photography, scultpture, and drawing and printmaking.

With six judges in place to pick the final four winners of this years prize, they had previously waded through over 300 applications, and then came to witness the works in the flesh at the pop-up exhibition. The judges included artist Carol Robertson, photographer and creator of cult gay magazine ‘Meat’ – Adrian Lourie, previous Signature Art Prize Winner of the Mixed Media category – Matthew Spencer, artist and lecturer Graham Crowley, Other Art Fair Director – Ryan Stanier and installation artist – Terry Smith.

The four winners of this year's Signature Art Prize are Gwenyth Fugard from the painting category, Kevin Dowd for photography, Alice Kelway-Bamber for sculpture and Claire Anscomb for drawing and printmaking.

Gwenyth Fugard says of her winning painting 'Untitled 6', " My recent work is created with a system of criteria and boundaries to be observed while navigating the neutrality of the square format. This plane provides a means to depict my concerns about mass, accumulation and dispersion. Borders and boundaries appear to be corroding while other zones remain solid. I structure folds into the prepared linen and create a series of interventions and obstructions during the coverage of oil paint, leaving trace and separation evident. An illusionary space emerges suggesting an existing condition or dynamic. It is the process of constructing the composition within the constraints of the imposed system that is of importance during the making. Despite the restrictions evident, I attempt to create the illusion of openness and the notion of multiple options yet to be configured."

Alice Kelway-Bamber took home the sculpture prize with her impressive and dominating piece 'Untitled', speaking of her large scale work, Kelway-Bamber states, "I try to simultaneously highlight and blur the boundary between drawing and sculpture: my work is always resting somewhere in between. The piece that won the Signature art prize started life as a drawing on MDF, which was then hand-cut and turned into a sculpture that still is, essentially, a drawing. The work is meant to contrast spontaneous gestural mark-making with painstaking mechanical process by interrupting the drawing with a grid (or interrupting a grid with a drawing). I also see the work as a screen between the artist and viewer that both facilitates and prevents communication; the patterns I use are derived from those found in jali screens in Indian palaces, through which royal women caught their only glimpses of the outside world, as well as spectacles and concerts outside the palace. I feel like the artwork is a screen through which artist and viewer catch glimpses of one another, but never fully see or speak to each other."

Winner of the drawing and printmaking category Claire Anscomb, explains her practice seen in her winning drawing, 'Nostalgia' "My practice is a derivative process, it all starts with photographs, this could be found photographs or ones I have purposefully chosen to take, rarely do I start with an image in mind, rather I experiment and juxtapose photographs and occasionally objects to create collages which I then photograph to use as the basis to translate this new image into a drawing. I always consider the viewer when making my work; I keep the viewer in mind as a basis for questioning the accessibility of the themes and ideas I am trying to communicate through my work."

Photography winner Kevin Dowd speaks of his work 'Field Day: Descent', "For several years I have trained in graphic communication and visual design, and through this I have gained a finer understanding of image, type, colour and space. Breaking away from the restrictions of commercial design, my artwork explores themes that I engage with as a practitioner and as an individual. The aesthetic of my first collection establishes my own predilections, and while I am drawn to particular mediums and styles, I also try to distance myself from what I’m comfortable working with. I’m currently working with glass, which is an unfamiliar material for me, and so I am excited by the possibilities of merging new ideas, media, styles and themes to generate something original and stimulating. The current collection, Technostalgia, explores several threads, such as the human experience, technological development, the hubris of man and the limitations of our world; the collection weaves these threads together to create a tapestry of arresting pieces and define a narrative. Beyond this collection, I examine themes of consciousness, humour, loss, difference, inversion and creation."

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