• Joanna Whittle

NEW LIGHT PRIZE - Valeria Sykes Award

Updated: Sep 26

It was such an honour to have won the New Light Prize Valeria Sykes Award for my painting 'Sorrowing Tent' . Details of the exhibition and prize can be found in the Press Release below.

New Light Prize Exhibition announced winner

Exhibition at Scarborough Art Gallery to 17 January 2021

A tiny oil-on-copper painting of a tent has won a leading art prize open to artists across the North.

Joanna Whittle’s Sorrowing Cloth, which measures just 10cm by 15cm, took the £10,000 Valeria Sykes Award at the opening of the prestigious New Light Prize Exhibition at Scarborough Art Gallery at the weekend.

The open exhibition, which can be seen at the Scarborough gallery until 17 January 2021 before moving to Carlisle, Newcastle and London, aims to shine a light on Northern art.

Sorrowing Cloth is one of a series of paintings of tents by Sheffield-based Joanna, who says: “My tent paintings represent fragile and temporary structures constructed within notions of the ruin and time passing. Canvas sits in water; ropes are pegged in to fluid land. Time sits still and moments brush against each other – canvas rots and weeds scramble over surfaces, but some lights remain on or have just been lit. They hold their own histories, ideas of vanished circuses or fairgrounds – events once frenetic now silenced and ominous in dusk or rain.”

Other prize winners were:

The £2,500 Patron’s Choice Award (all exhibited works considered): Victor Harris, from Waterfoot, Rossendale, in Lancashire, for his oil on linen, Forlorn.

The Emerging Artists Prize – sponsored by The Saul Hay Gallery, Manchester(offering mentoring, professional advice and exhibition opportunities including a solo show): Linnet Rubaya, from Leeds, for her acrylic on canvas, Seen.

The Printmakers’ Prize – sponsored by The Zillah Bell Gallery, Thirsk (all forms of original printmaking eligible; the winner is offered a solo exhibition in the Zillah Bell Gallery, host to some of the UK’s best printmakers’ shows): Ian Brooks, from Leeds, for his etching, Across Borge Bay.

New Light Purchase Prize (the selected work is purchased by the charity to add to its Collection): Christian Alexander Bailey, from Harrogate, for his pen-and-ink drawing, Tree Sparrow.

One final award, The Visitors’ Choice Award, will be made at the end of the Scarborough exhibition and announced at Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery in Carlisle. It recognises the work which strikes a chord with visitors, who are asked to vote for their favourite artwork.

The judges, who shortlisted the artists using an anonymous online selection process and concluded the judging together in the gallery, were printmaker and artist Anne Desmet RA; the editor of RA Magazine, Sam Phillips; Grant Scanlan, the curator of Huddersfield Art Gallery; Catherine and Ian Hay from the Saul Hay Gallery; John Bell from the Zillah Bell Gallery; Valeria Sykes, the patron of New Light; and the chair of New Light, Annette Petchey.

Annette Petchey says: “The high standard of entries has once again astounded the judges, with familiar and new artists showcasing the huge talent in the north of England. Themes that reflect all of the emotions that we have felt as a nation during the 2020 pandemic are captured and reflected across the exhibition: everything from sadness and loneliness to clear optimism and joy in a broad range of media. New Light continues to go from strength to strength and it is a delight to work collaboratively with the team at Scarborough Museums Trust.”

Simon Hedges, Head of Curation, Collections and Exhibitions at Scarborough Museums Trust, says: “I’m delighted with the judges’ choices and I would like to thank both the New Light and the SMT teams for delivering such an amazing show in these most difficult of times.”

After the Scarborough exhibition, the New Light Prize Exhibition will move to Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery in Carlisle, The Biscuit Factory in Newcastle, and finally The Bankside Gallery in London.

Established in 2010, New Light celebrates and promotes both well-known and emerging artists by offering some of the region’s best awards and opportunities with the biennial new Light Prize Exhibition, fast becoming one of the UK’s largest and most talked-about open exhibitions.

It also runs New Light Art for All, an education programme which includes talks, workshops and school projects, and the New Light Collection, which will be launched this spring and which aims to make the best in Northern visual arts available to more people, by loaning pieces free of charge to public bodies and charities.

The common thread through everything New Light does is a deep belief that the visual arts matter and the North of England deserves to be celebrated.

New Light is run by a dedicated group of people who are passionate about the visual arts in the North of England. It relies entirely on donations and sponsorship.

For further information on New Light: newlight-art.org.uk


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Joanna Whittle 2020