With the new chancellor wielding an axe over arts spending, creative types must look elsewhere for financial inspiration. One venture attracting interest among painters and sculptors is the Threadneedle Prize (now in its third year), which will award £25,000 to the maker of an “an outstanding new work of figurative art” next month.
The competition, held at the Mall Galleries, near Buckingham Palace in London, is sponsored by a £59.7 billion asset management fund (also called Threadneedle), which is evidently not short of a bob or two.
Royal College of Art professor David Rayson, Royal British Society of Sculptors fellow Michael Sandle and assistant curator at the National Gallery, Dr Xavier Bray sifted through over 2,100 submitted works and chose a shortlist of 46 which will be exhibited at the Mall from next Thursday for two weeks.
The winner has already been selected and will be announced at an event at the gallery on 15 September. An additional £10,000 prize will be awarded to the artwork voted most popular with exhibition visitors.
The selectors chose works showing a “unique way of looking at and interpreting the world around us.” Many of the paintings and sculptures share common themes, depicting changes in the urban landscape, visual trickery. The majority of them use photorealism.
One example, Oliver Jones’ ‘Georgina,’ drawn in chalk pastels, is an optical illusion which shows a girl’s face upside-down with her eyes and mouth flipped up the right way. “[It] sets out to counteract one’s predetermined perceptions of the face, aiming to encourage a more in-depth interaction with its façade,” Jones said.
Darren Coffield, aka Darcoff, uses a similar technique in ‘Not I,’ his painting of a bleached human skull with upside-down features.
Some of the paintings deal with playful subjects: Thomas Doran’s picture of a trio of reindeer and surrounding elves in a car park – inspired by the remnants of a car boot sale glimpsed through a wire fence – is one such example. “Never mind urban foxes- I give you car park elves,” he remarked.
Roland Hicks’ ‘The Duchess’ (pictured above) is a fantastically intricate oil painting of a packet of supermarket bread “with delusions of grandeur”.
A talk called ‘Who gets the money: arts funding in crisis?’ will be held in conjunction with the exhibit on 13 September, with speakers including Evening Standard art critic Brian Sewell and ICA director Ekow Eshun.
‘The Threadneedle Prize for painting and sculpture’ – open 2 -18 September 2010, 10am to 5pm daily, Admission £2.50, Concessions £1.50