Plenty of smashing new talent in store

Some of the art world's biggest names have nominated their favourite rising stars for an exhibition at Selfridges. They tell Charlotte Cripps why they chose them

Monday 06 July 2009 00:00

Rising stars of the art world have been hand-picked by a panel that includes Sir Peter Blake, Kevin Spacey and Tracey Emin to exhibit their work at London's Selfridges.

The store's first ever pop-up exhibition of new talent was the brainchild of the curator Flora Fairbairn, who co-directs the Concrete and Glass arts festival in Shoreditch. She has collaborated with the online contemporary art gallery, which gives talented up-and-coming artists a platform to sell and exhibit their work without the overheads associated with traditional galleries. "The show at Selfridges is a great opportunity for the artists to get their name out there and for us to engage a wider audience in contemporary art," says murmur ART director and co-founder, Will Conibear. "It is a great place for us to have the first of what will be regular exhibitions in different spaces around London."

On show is the conceptual artist Hugo Wilson, nominated by Kevin Spacey. The actor snapped up much of Wilson's end-of-year MA show at City & Guilds in 2008, including his Tornado in a Box sculpture, which was exhibited recently in Tunnel 228, an art-theatre collaboration between the Old Vic and Punchdrunk underneath Waterloo railway station.

The artist Conrad Shawcross has nominated Charles Danby, whose intimate drawings of fashion models laid over inkjet prints both connect with and distance the viewer. And the architect Zaha Hadid has picked an installation artist, who works under the pseudonym Constintin Dubuffu. He has installed a site-specific piece in one of the glass vitrines at Selfridges which references the rest of the shop.

The works are for sale, starting at £1,000, and computers in the exhibition link through to the murmurART site, where more can be bought.

What did the curator make of the panelists' choices? "The up-and-coming artists are extremely diverse," says Fairbairn. "Tracey Emin's nomination is a very fiery, colourful painter whereas Tim Marlow's is thought-provoking and mysterious."

murmurART, Selfridges, London W1, until 15 July (

Alannah Weston

Creative Director, Selfridges

RISING STAR: Matthew Musgrave

"I first saw Matthew Musgrave's work at the curator Flora Fairbairn's house. It was seeing his work that made me think there was potential for a whole new kind of art experience at Selfridges. There were two tiny pictures that I loved: 'Golden Dogs' and another, even smaller, of a cavalry charge. There was something intense and jewel-like about the way the paintings were worked, like early miniatures, but with a sense of whimsy: he even used sparkly paint. It's the freshness in the scale and subject matter that announces his potential. He's also incredibly young, so it will be interesting to watch him develop."

Tracey Emin


RISING STAR: Jo Robertson

"My friend Detmar Blow showed me Jo Robertson's work, and previously a number of people had told me I might be interested in her. Joanne's painting is very raw and expressionistic. She has the courage to just walk away at a point when the painting is most alive. I own one of her paintings; it's called 'Great Change Since I've Been Born' and it really reminds me of me. There's a woman sitting on a bed, naked, with a cat in the foreground. The room in the painting is remarkably like my old bedroom from my student days at Maidstone College of Art. Joanne has the ability to tap into things on an emotional and psychic level. Her works have an edge and a complexity but there is nothing cynical in them. You can see that she knows her art history and she uses it to her advantage."

Anita Zabludowicz

Collector and Founder of Gallery 176

RISING STAR: Tereza Buskova

"Fate brought Tereza Buskova to me. Our curator at 176, Elizabeth Neilson, saw her graduation show at the Royal College of Art in 2007 and loved her work. Then Chris Shaw, an old friend of mine from Newcastle, sent me a link to it. She does not produce masses so we were lucky enough to start working with her quite quickly. Her work is like nothing you have seen before. She works in a very intuitive and unique way, making films, mesmerising constructions built upon her experiences of her Czech heritage, which have an ethereal, timeless quality. They seem to have been made somewhere between the 1920s and 2100. They're essentially documented improvisations between herself and actors, dancers and performers whom she dresses in the most stunning costumes based on traditional Czech dress. The result is hard to pin down and utterly captivating."

Tim Marlow

Director of Exhibitions at White Cube, broadcaster and art historian

RISING STAR: Polly Morgan

"Polly Morgan's work seems very familiar but you realise that it is highly original. She is looking to explore that period between something dying and something decaying. She seems to have created a gap between the English idea of the "still life" and the European tradition of "Nature Morte". I would locate it in a tradition from Stubbs to Damien Hirst. Hirst's presentation of what he calls his 'Natural History' series is presented in a post-minimal way. Her work is dramatic without being melodramatic."

Kay Saatchi

Curator and collector

RISING STAR: Bouke de Vries

"A month ago I finally went to see Bouke de Vries' work. I'd been meaning to go for ages. I saw 50 artworks at his London home; his sculptures are displayed in glass boxes to protect them. They are a contemporary take on 17th- and 18th-century Dutch still lifes. He trained as a ceramic repairer and he restores for the V&A, the British Museum and the artist Grayson Perry. I love the fact that he uses the techniques from his professional life and deconstructs objects rather than fixes them in his artwork. My favourite is a cracked apart bowl and poppy heads, a syringe and a spoon – the paraphernalia of a drug user. In another, he displays dried rose hips in broken blue and white porcelain, which looks as though it is exploding. If this had been a traditional still life it would have been full of luscious and juicy cherries, but instead, his work is about things in decay. I go to all the student shows and I might look at 250 artists and not find one that is arresting. He stood out. It was visually compelling and I like the ideas behind it."

Sir Peter Blake



"We knew that my daughter Rose was going to be an artist from the age of 11. I don't think she ever intended to be anything else. I've picked her as my rising star because I haven't been to any diploma shows for a long time but my daughter is about to start the Communication Art and Design course at the Royal College of Art. Her school of drawing is Jean-Michel Basquiat and David Shrigley – not cartoons, but almost comic-strip style drawings.

There are no similarities with my own work but every so often there's a hint of the same genes. She has just done a group of eight prints based on a trip we made to stay with David Hockney in Los Angeles when she was eight years old. David used to do a timed drive up the hills to music which Rose has captured in a sweet cartoon. I didn't think she would have remembered it, but she remembers the whole thing."

Kirsty Wark

Journalist and Television presenter

RISING STAR: Sarah Muirhead:

"I first discovered Sarah Muirhead’s work through a very old friend Lesley Lockhart who runs the Arran Art Gallery in Whiting Bay on the Island of Arran. Lesley has very good antennae and had picked out Sarah Muirhead as a rising star (in turn Lesley’s friend Susan Malcolm the artist and former Head of Art at Wellington School in Ayr had taught Sarah.) Sarah Muirhead only graduated this year from Edinburgh School of Art but the wonderful humanity in her work is incredibly mature. She is a figurative artist who concentrates on every line and crease and blemish and displays an empathy with her subject. I particularly like her portrait of an elderly man in a raffish black suit sitting on a wall reading a newspaper intently – he at once looks charming and clever and friendly and reminds me in character of the late Norman McCaig. If I was to liken her work to another I would say Velasquez’s ‘Old Woman Cooking Eggs’ which is one of my favourite paintings."

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