The winners of the prestigious Ingram Prize 2021, the leading annual prize for contemporary artists in the UK, have been announced.
There were four prize winners in total; with the Founders Choice Award going to James Dearlove, for his Figures on a Bed while Anna Perach (Daphne), Anietie Ekanem, (Yemaya o Yemoja) and Katharina Fitz (Pupa and Queen) each scooped the top awards.
This year’s Ingram Prize encompassed a variety of themes, including the environment, queer-femme experience, body image, immigration, and the pandemic, with the shortlisted finalists – from countries as diverse as Afghanistan, Denmark and New Zealand, France, Ukraine plus Trinidad & Tobago – entering work in a broad variety of different media, from ceramics, oils, and watercolour, to video, tapestry, and found / recycled objects.
The oldest of the prize-winning quartet, James Dearlove, claimed the Founders Choice Award, with his painting Figures on a Bed. Using old newspapers as a canvas, upon which to depict sprawled male bodies, Dearlove explains:
“This painting is a contemporary urban landscape of queer bodies and demonstrates the desire and disquietude that are central concerns in my work. I am preoccupied with how light falls on flesh and how bodies can coalesce with their surroundings. This painting is informed by my experience of living as a queer man in the heart of London. When I had a studio in Vauxhall (which could be called a very gay part of London) I was aware that all around me gay men were meeting on hook-up apps for anonymous sex and drug- taking. I felt I couldn’t ignore this intense and strange human interaction as subject matter however transgressive or hard to understand especially as it was going on in my community.”
Ukrainian-born Israeli artist Anna Perach (b. 1985, USSR) now lives and works in her adopted city of London, and her sculpture, Daphne, echoes both Bernini’s Apollo and Daphne and Griselda Pollock’s book, After-Affects/After-Image (2013), which explore Ovid’s Metamorphoses vivid story of the nymph transformed into a tree.
“I began to think about the female body as a site of transformation and its connection to the cycle of nature. Both elements have been often condemned throughout Western history and positioned the female body as a dangerous, irrational and deceiving form that needs to be contained and restricted by society. In my Daphne sculpture, I recreate the position of Daphne in Bernini’s piece but remove Apollo focusing only on her body. It’s a dynamic, transitioning body but also an amputated one, lacking a head for expression and arms for touch and protection. This piece is part of my ongoing research into narratives of brutality and compartmentalisation of the female body in different narratives in Western history.”
After graduating from Oxford University in 2018 with a BA in History of Art, Anietie Ekanem has consistently explored existing dialogues between art practice and critical theory. With Yemaya o Yemoja, Ekanem (b. 1996) says:
“I have used moving image & sound to deepen my understanding of how
performance acts as an expression of spirituality and resistance. Cycles of creation, motherhood & the
suggestion of death are my main points of inquiry which unfold across three chapters in this video, rooted
in the syncretism of Hoodoo & Catholicism.”
Austria’s Katharina Fitz (b. 1985) graduated with a BA in Film/Photography from Sant Ignasi Institute in Barcelona in 2008 and an MFA in Fine Art from Nottingham Trent University in 2019. Her extraordinary and somewhat mesmerising Pupa and Queen reveals her fascination with transformation. As Fitz explains:
“Through the use of different processes form has been pushed through a sort of metamorphosis and translated from one stage into another. It is the exposure of mutation of form, of the creation of an organism, with the potential to be pushed into something else. It’s a conversation, a dialogue between objects that exist in a constant flow of change.”
Launched in 2016, The Ingram Prize was established by The Ingram Collection to celebrate and support artists at the beginning of their professional careers. Now in its 6th year, this year’s award and accompanying exhibition (19-26 November) looks set to build upon its legacy of providing a platform for even greater success.
The Ingram Prize recognises the vital importance of practical support in the early years of an artist’s career. It offers opportunities to exhibit and sell work, a programme of continued professional development and the chance to develop both industry and peer-to-peer networks.
The work of the winners will be purchased for The Ingram Collection, with one also given a solo exhibition at The Lightbox Gallery and Museum in 2022. Furthermore, all the finalists have been offered the opportunity to apply for an artist residency project in 2022, in partnership with Hestercombe Gallery in Somerset.
One of the joys of any Prize that is chosen from an exhibition is you can choose your own favourite, FAD Magazine’s choice is Selby Hurst Inglefield with The Ginger Kitty wants me to sit on his knee. (seen above)
An exhibition of all the finalists’ work will be held at Unit 1 Gallery | Workshop from Friday 19 – Friday 26 November 2021. The Ingram Prize is generously supported by Rawlinson & Hunter.
Previous winners Sin Wai Kin (FKA Victoria Sin, b. 1991), Harrison Pearce (b. 1986), Alvin Ong (b. 1988) and Tahmina Negmat (b. 1994) have not only had works purchased by the renowned Ingram Collection but also went on to exhibit in such prestigious museums and galleries as Whitechapel Gallery and Toronto Museum of Contemporary Art, winning further, prestigious awards and, in the case of Sin, performing at the 58th Venice Biennale.