Young Brits: The shape of things to come

Innovative sculptor Emily Motto among eight emerging talents from around the UK recognised by new competition

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A pioneering sculptor has triumphed in a nationwide competition for young people in the arts, enterprise and innovation.

Emily Motto is one of eight winners of the Young Brits competition – launched by the clothing label Jack Wills and backed by i – which aims to recognise and champion emerging talent.

The 22-year-old, from Orpington, Kent, works with an array of unusual materials ranging from playdough and bread to non-Newtonian fluids.

The competition, open to people aged 16 to 25, is also supported by representatives from the Victoria & Albert Museum, the Science Museum and Wired magazine.

The judging panel – which includes the curator of digital design at the V&A, Louise Shannon, travel writer Paul Clammer, the Science Museum’s inventor-in-residence Mark Champkins, the English Football Association’s director, Heather Rabbatts, and the editor of i, Oliver Duff – sifted through more than 2,300 applications from across the UK before compiling a shortlist of 10 candidates for each of the four categories: creativity; enterprise; innovation; and endurance.

The applicants were then interviewed individually by the judges heading up their chosen category and the panel selected two winners from each group.

Ms Motto was named as the winner of the creativity category along with 18-year-old Lydia Marchant, from Hessle, East Yorkshire. Ms Marchant, who is the Hull Truck Theatre’s young writer-in-residence, wrote her first play when she was just 12 years old.

Joshua Welsh, 24, from Southampton, and Harry Goodwin, 18, from Tyne and Wear, won the innovation category, while Tom Rainey, 21, from Devon, and Nia Jenkins, 18, from Norwich, collected awards for endurance.

Charlot Conway 21, from London, and Sam Ryan, 21, from Barford St John, Oxfordshire, claimed the winning title in the enterprise group.

The winners, whose achievements will be celebrated at a ceremony in London tonight, will each net £5,000 cash, plus professional mentoring from the judges.

Ms Motto, who graduated this summer from Oxford University’s Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art with a First in fine art, said she was “surprised” and “excited” to be named a winner.

“It came as quite a surprise to win as I knew so many people had applied,” she said. Her recent works include an 18-metre-long sculpture comprised of 50,000 glue sticks.

“I was so excited when I heard the news,” she added. “The money is really going to help me as I will be able to rent an art studio. I’ve been trying to make all my sculptures in a garden shed. It will be amazing to have a studio space.

“I’m going to Beijing for an artist’s residency in October and the prize money will help me while I’m there too.”

i Editor Duff said the awards “could have been handed out many times over” and added: “We are looking forward to seeing what the winners do next.”