wed 28/09/2022

Gallery: Derwent Art Prize | reviews, news & interviews

Gallery: Derwent Art Prize

Gallery: Derwent Art Prize

The inaugural prize for drawing celebrates the artist's most basic tool and provides a superb showcase

Hazel Bowman's 'Blessed is the Gift of Laughter' (Graphite), 2013, wins 3rd prize of the People's Award

You can use a computer to draw, as Hockney does, every day on his iPad, yet, despite all the technological advances the 21st century has thrown our way, the pencil continues to be the artist’s most basic tool.

And though there are those who lament, as they have done for decades, the “deskilling” of art, dismissing the art they don’t like or perhaps feel alienated by, drawing not only persists but remains fundamental: just as writers still write novels with plots to recreate the world filtered through their imaginations, artists still put pencil to paper to do the same. And lest we forget, that erstwhile doyenne of Britart, Tracey Emin, is currently the Royal Academy’s Professor of Drawing. Tradition always finds a way of renewing itself.

I was lucky enough to be asked to judge the Derwent Art Prize, an open competition which launched this year for artists using pencil, or a graphic medium such as pastel and charcoal. The entries poured in and it was fascinating to see strong themes emerge, as well as the popularity of certain subjects. I recall seeing many more animals than humans, as many desolate buildings as landscapes, and vegetables were served to us in abundance – in fact, first prize for the People’s Award is a beautifully rendered savoy cabbage (Janie Pirie’s Majestic Savoy, no.7), one that would stand proud amongst any to be found on the teeming market stalls of Joachim Beuckelaer, the 16-century Flemish artist known for his bustling food markets.

Though I and my  fellow judges, Yvonne Crossley, director of The Drawing Gallery in Shropshire, and artist and Royal Academician Stephen Farthing, may have amiably disagreed on occasion, we agreed more often than didn’t. You may not always think it, but, left simply to the eye to judge, good work usually does speak for itself.

Below is a small selection from the final hundred or so drawings that made it through to the exhibition, which you can still catch at the Mall Galleries if you’re quick. First prize goes to Chrys Allen (no.1), second to Paul Hiles (no.9) and third to Yi Lin Juliana Ong (no.3). As you'll see, the competition was strong.

Fisun Guner on Twitter

Click first image to enter gallery:


Thank you Fisun for including my drawing "Who cares about unlucky numbers?" I was thrilled to be exhibited amongst such talented artists. cerise ward axisweb

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