Launched in 2016, The Ingram Prize has become an important celebration of the work of artists at the start of their careers. Now in its 5th year, this years award looks set to build upon its legacy of providing a platform for even greater success.
From a shortlist of 37, three winning works have now been selected a set of bronze sculptures by Kristina Chan inspired by the Australian bush fires, a ceramic depressed ewer by Connor Coulston and a film exploring a black woman's search for spiritual cleansing by Madinah Farhannah Thompson.
Banksia Seeds (3 States) by Kristina Chan, 2020
Kristina Chans practice explores narrative and place through printmaking, alternative photography, and sculpture. Each work tells a story, exploring our relationship with place.
Bankia Seeds is inspired by a residency in Australia (Oct Dec 2019) during the height of the bushfire season. This is a sculpture in 3 states: The seed before, during and after the fire, showing the resilience and strength of nature.
Banksias are pyrophytes, which means they have evolved to germinate in fire, requiring it to release their seeds, leading them to not only survive, but thrive, despite the devastating bushfires. Upon returning to the UK and the following months of lockdown, these works took on a greater meaning. Cast in bronze, they began to represent the strength, resilience, and perseverance we find within ourselves.
Kristina says Lockdown was a very creative time, albeit a difficult one - many of the facilities I need to create my work were shut down. This forced me to slow down and reflect. I was able to dream up creative solutions for making work. Banksia Seeds was actually a product of this. I spent a lot of time finding chemical equivalents to clean and patina the work. At times I felt like a mad scientist. But in the end, I think these challenges really opened me up creatively.
Sometimes, Connor, it feels like I'm just waiting to die - Depressed Ewer by Connor Coulston, 2018
Connor Coustons work concerns itself with the kitsch charity shop ornaments that once took pride of place in a home and then end up in the bargain bucket at the local Oxfam. Many of his works are reinterpretations of these objects, but with either a socio-political undertone or a reflection on childhood memories.
Sometimes, Connor, it feels like I'm just waiting to die - Depressed Ewer was created in reaction to a conversation he had with his mother when asked what it feels like to live in their hometown of Oldham. Connor says I didn't intend on creating the piece when I was making the Ewer - but the first signals of my mum's depression were playing on my mind as I was going through the same feelings at the time. It felt like I was subconsciously putting these feelings and emotions into the piece and the clay knew how to respond. It kept slumping, unable to meet me halfway, and do what I wanted: to be the perfect ewer. Eventually, I succumbed to material and the process and stopped forcing the clay to be perfect but allowed it to react to my emotions at the time.
Saliva & Tears / Underneath You by Madinah Farhannah Thompson, 2020
Saliva & Tears/ Underneath You is a film, which uses Thompson's poem underneath you, alongside other texts which discuss emotional abuse, control and manipulation within romantic relationships. The film juxtaposes these works with imagery depicting a black woman's search for spiritual cleansing.
Madinah says I found lockdown challenging as a performance artist, however my writing practice helped me to remain creative. I co-founded and co-facilitate a writers group for black women and nonbinary people in London, and this continued (virtually) throughout lockdown, which ensured that I was writing and sharing work regularly. My practice changed and developed during this process. I built a set in my living room and made Saliva & Tears/ Underneath You. I have become more flexible in my ways of working as a result and my practice has shifted into filmmaking which is exciting.
This year also sees an additional prize, the Founders Choice Award, for Marigold Plunketts etching and aquatint The Light/The Dark, 2020, selected by Ingram Collection founder, Chris Ingram. The Light/The Dark is an intaglio etching, concerned with the retrieval of the female gaze, subtly challenging narrow Western ideals of female beauty.
Unfortunately, the latest lockdown means the planned accompanying, physical exhibition (planned for 20-27 November at The Cello Factory, London) had to be cancelled but thanks to a collaboration with Smartify the exhibition is now online. There is also be a virtual catalogue available at The Ingram Collection website.
The selected artists will have their prize-winning entries purchased for The Ingram Collection. One of the prize-winning artists will be invited to give a solo exhibition in late 2021, and all the finalists will be invited to apply for a UK based residency project in 2021.
Jo Baring, Curator of The Ingram Collection said Each of these young emerging artists has created a considered, powerful artistic response to this turbulent year, in the very different materials of bronze, ceramic and film. Im so thrilled that - through the Ingram Prize - we are able to give them a platform for their work. Building on the legacy of artists within the Ingram Collection we are determined to create opportunities for emerging artists to develop and flourish.