Anna Airy exhibition may launch careers for emerging Suffolk artists
- Credit: Archant
The Anna Airy Award is one of the most inspiring art exhibitions of the year. Arts editor Andrew Clarke takes a tour of the exhibition and believes that 20 years ago many of the works would have been in a degree show rather than a sixth form exhibition
Walking into the foyer of the University of Suffolk and then onto the Waterfront Gallery is something akin to embarking on an extraordinary artistic journey of discovery. As you move through the building the landscape changes, the views alter but remain consistently impressive.
Breathtaking is just one of the words that can be used to describe the art work on display at the annual Anna Airy exhibition on the Ipswich Waterfront.
The annual Anna Airy Award, staged by the Ipswich Art Society and supported by the The Arts Society (formerly NADFAS) is a hugely prestigious showcase for Suffolk’s A Level art students and represents the emerging talent to be found in the county.
The exhibition has grown substantially over the years and this year has 180 works on display drawn from 14 schools from across the county. All the artists are aged between 16-20 and many intend to use the high profile exhibition as a jumping off point as they go from A Level art courses to degree level and further training.
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The Anna Airy Award and exhibition has been staged since 1965 in memory of Ipswich Art Society’s former President who championed the work of young artists.
Head of the judging panel this year is Graham Crowley, former professor of painting at the Royal College of Art. He was joined by Jude Lockie, president of the Ipswich Art Society and Nicola Garratt,
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Higher Education Champion: Arts, Media and Design at the University of Suffolk.
The winner of the Anna Airy Award for 2018 is Daisy Gemmel, from Ipswich School, for her fold-out urban landscape London Perspectives. The runner-up was Sophie Rennison, from Northgate High School, for her work Bekah.
Graham Crowley said of the Daisy’s landscape: “An ambitious and complex mixed media painting, characterising the best in contemporary painting. The fusion of maps, collage, drawing, paint and the use of mechanics conjures up the image of analogue in a digital world. It demonstrates intelligence and diligence.
“It has symmetry, dynamism, cubism, futurism. The art history research is to be commended.”
He said that the completed painting had real impact.
Stephanie Rennison’s portrait of Bekah also came in for praise. “It’s dramatic, powerful with an intelligent use of photography. It straddles the boundary of photography and painting.”
Winner of the Innovation award went to Joanne Fu for Takeaway, a series of sculptures made from recycled takeway trays and cartons. Mr Crowley said: “This is an intelligent and witty piece – a decidedly contemporary take on upcycling and transformation.” Joanne also won the Key Arts Award.
The Ipswich Art Society Award went to Wai Yee Yeung, from Ipswich High School, for Bouquet which was described as a “beautiful, elegant statement.” The runner-up was George Hunt, last year’s winner of the Anna Airy prize, from Ipswich School, for a moving portrait of his mother.
Jan Watson, from the Ipswich Art Society, said that once again the organisers were blown away by the standard of the entry. “Every year we wonder what we are going to get and every year we are astounded by the quality and the imagination that goes into the work. We are grateful to the students for entering but we are also grateful to their tutors for their support and encouragement. Many of the pieces are very large, so transportation alone takes a lot of organisation.
“This year we have more schools than ever before and we are working this year with Neaco, the Network for East Anglian Collaboration, which ran an art competition with schools and two students from each of the participating schools have submitted work to the Anna Airy Exhibition. These are from Samuel Ward Academy, Haverhill; Sir John Leman High School, Beccles; East Coast College, Great Yarmouth; and Mildenhall College Academy.
The Anna Airy Exhibition runs at University of Suffolk until Wednesday November 28.