Student art prize shortlist announced

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23 pieces of art have been shortlisted for the inaugural Student Art Prize, out of 75 entrants. 

The top three prizes will be awarded in mid-June, at which point a selection of the student artworks will available for sale as part of Summer in the City’s online festival 2020. 

The Student Art Prize was established in October 2019 to expand creative opportunities in the University. It also aims to develop a permanent student art collection, housed within the university’s wider art collection.

All the pieces were required to fit with this year’s theme ‘Diversity’. According to the prize’s website, this was chosen “to allow a wide range of exploration and conceptualisation by the artists, and a reference to the lack of diversity within some traditional canons of art history.”

Alongside their artwork, students were asked to submit an 100-word summary of their work, and to explain its connection with the theme.

“We must have many talented student artists here in Durham.” 

Richard Roberts

The shortlist was decided by a panel of eight, including representatives from the University Library and Collections, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, the Head-elect of Stephenson College and a local guest artist. It also included a student representative.

In a previous statement to Palatinate, Richard Roberts, who is sponsoring the prize, commented that: “We must have many talented student artists here in Durham.” 

He also highlighted how helpful art could be in improving mental health: “Creating an artwork is a very good way of taking stress out of the hectic and pressured student life. Student mental health is another real concern of mine. Finding space to be calm, be creative, to let our imagination wander is part of keeping a better mental health balance.”

The responses to the theme of ‘Diversity’ were varied. Embrace by Alice Lefranq-Frodj uses cross-stitch embroidery to comment on the “necessity of peaceful integration of Muslim immigrants and asylum seekers into Swedish Society.”

Life in Isolation by Georgina Feltham-White mixes pencil, graphite, marker, watercolour and collage in a portrait of a friend of the artist who “suffered racial abuse at his university; he struggled afterwards as he didn’t feel there was anyone he could talk to/ask for help.”

Some entrants took an ecological approach. The Little Book of Biodiversity by Dorry Fox combines illustration and rhyming couplets to celebrate “biodiversity while also lamenting its demise at the hands of humanity.”

The full shortlist, including digital productions of the pieces of art and their abstracts, can be viewed here.

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