Work by shortlisted artists Liadin Cooke, Leo Fitzmaurice, James Hugonin and Richard Rigg have come together in the exhibition on which they will be judged for the fifth annual Northern Art Prize, at Leeds Art Gallery
from 25 November 2011 until 19 February 2012.
Sarah Brown, curator of exhibitions at Leeds Art Gallery and chair of the judging panel commented: The 2012 Prize short list brings to our attention four very different artists who each produce work that often takes a painstakingly long time to craft. As the world moves ever faster it is interesting that the judges have selected artists who invest a great deal of time in each piece.
Based in Huddersfield, Cooke is known for the delicate watercolours and sculptures that make up her practice. For the Northern Art Prize she presents a body of new work, the roots of which are in her passion for language, site and history. Cookes work is often sparked off by something small and comes out of a sustained research process.
Miserable Object, shown for the first time at the Northern Art Prize, is made in response to the text of a 19th Century sampler exhibited at the Victoria & Albert Museum that describes a needle-womans breakdown due to sexual harassment and her subsequent discovery of god. Consisting of lines of red wax drawn across paper, it is a subtle and startling work about control and instability and the mental turmoil experienced by the 19th Century source.
Cookes use of materials in this new body of work includes wax, brass and clay; the detailed surface of the forms evoke a fragility and awareness of weight and touch that also highlights her keen awareness of materials and artisanship.
Fitzmaurice, who lives and works in The Wirral, is known for his witty installations and sculptures. 'The Way Things Appear', a collection of photographs of objects and graphical elements taken in their everyday setting, is presented for the first time as a digital slide show for the Northern Art Prize exhibition. The initial piece of design, for example a sign or iron railing, that is captured in the photograph is then repeated or mimicked by other objects nearby or, in some other way, made strange by its situation.
Fitzmaurice also presents Horizon, (Leeds) as part of his Northern Art Prize selection, originally displayed with pieces chosen from the Grundy Art Gallery collection. For the Northern Art Prize exhibition he selected landscape paintings from the Leeds Art Gallery permanent collection creating a new piece of work by lining up the historic works to create a continuous landscape.
This work continues Fitzmaurices fascination with relationship between graphic design, landscape and objects and their relation to language.
After graduating from Chelsea School of Art in 1975, Hugonin has been producing intricately detailed grid paintings and he has had a studio in Northumberland since 1988. For the Northern Art Prize exhibition, Hugonin shows four of his oil and wax paintings with Untitled (XVII) and Untitled (XVIII) each measuring a commanding 170.8cm x 152.6cm. Two Binary Rhythm paintings which are also displayed are 189.5cm x 169.0cm and are shown alongside two small colour studies.
Inspired by the constantly changing light and colour that surround his studio in the Cheviots, Hugonin works with increasingly intense colours. His paintings are composed of marks of close toned colour with an underlying grid, each mark shifting slightly from its neighbour and building to a rhythmic whole. These are deeply subtle paintings with an understated clarity, quietly musical and filled with a kind of contained light that relates keenly to the place they are made.
Each piece in the exhibition has a highly individual and particular atmosphere that evokes a sensation of movement and stillness.
Rigg, who studied and lives in Newcastle, reworks everyday objects and materials to present them in a new or slightly altered way to change their use or highlight their differences.
Several of his sculptural pieces feature in the Northern Art Prize exhibition including 'Two Writing Desks, False Drawer', which at first glance appear familiar, just like antique desks, but by using contrasting, contemporary materials which are not native to this country and introducing slight alterations to the layout, Rigg encourages the onlooker to take a closer look and question what they see.
A note written by the artist during a telephone conversation led to the title of 'I forgot what was said when we were outside, stood empty, now without those words I fell back'. This piece, which uses two eight metre tall telegraph poles and connecting wires, is displayed in the main entrance hall and staircase of Leeds Art Gallery.
The winner of the 2011 / 12 Northern Art Prize will be chosen by a panel of industry professionals: Caroline Douglas, Head of the Arts Council Collection; Tim Marlow, Writer, Broadcaster, Art Historian and Director of Exhibitions at White Cube; Simon Starling, Turner Prize winning Artist; Simon Wallis, Director at The Hepworth Wakefield and chair Sarah Brown, Curator of Exhibitions at Leeds Art Gallery. Announced on 19 January 2012 at Leeds Art Gallery, the winner will receive a cheque for £16,500 while the remaining three artists each will receive £1,500.