100 pieces of art you HAVE to see in Ipswich
- Credit: Archant
The Anna Airy exhibition, staged by the Ipswich Art Society, and held at the University of Suffolk, is one of the highlights of the cultural calendar. It’s a waterfront showcase for bright young talent
The Anna Airy Award is one of the most prestigious prizes in the Suffolk art world. Held at the University of Suffolk, each year it provides a vital platform for young artistic talent to gain experience of exhibiting and showcase their talent.
The award and accompanying exhibition has been staged by the Ipswich Art Society since 1965 in memory of one of their most prestigious presidents, Anna Airy, who was not only a leading artist in her own right but also spent a lot of time and energy championing the work of young artists.
It has developed and grown over the decades into a hugely prestigious showcase for Suffolk's A Level art students and represents the emerging talent to be found in the county.
This year close on to 130 works are on display in the University foyer gallery from schools and colleges across the county. All the artists are aged between 16-20.
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Jan Watson, co-ordinator of the Anna Airy Selection panel, continues to be amazed at the standard of the work entered for the competition. "Every year the standard gets better and better. This year we have had well over 100 entries.
The exhibition is judged by two independent judges and are looking to see how young talent view the world and how well they can express their vision in their work.
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This year the judges were Desmond Brett, senior lecturer at Norwich University of the Arts and a former Anna Airy award winner, along with Dr. Susan Barnet from the department of Fine Art at University of Suffolk.
The judges were impressed by the standard of work and were encouraged by the rise in three-dimensional work on offer including sculpture, textile work and model-making. "The design work was of an excellent standard reflecting the good work being done specially at Ipswich High School which is clearly led by material handling and knowledge of DT processes.
"It was encouraging to see some work that considered other subjects outside the self-image or portrait and these looked to political events nationally and globally and more pan-cultural topics and representation. It would be good to see more sculpture being made in schools (which is a particular crusade of mine!) however the work submitted in 3D included ambitious ceramic and detailed modelmaking to well constructed costumes."
The Anna Airy winner for 2019 went to Louise Batchelor (Ipswich High School) for her painting 'The Beauty in What is Left Behind' which is part of a triptych.
The judges in their assessment said: "The three paintings dealt with a refreshingly unromantic subject of the overlooked spaces behind shops or houses that are dark, dank and abject. The wheelie bins took on figurative connotations of conspiratorial implication. On one painting the house in the distance pulled the viewer out of this liminal space. The blue jumps out of the black/grey gloom across all the paintings.
"It would be good to see Louise begin to explore the possibilities in oil paint which would allow a greater depth of hues and tints."
The runner up was Anna Pycock (Northgate High School) who submitted the painting 'Dad and a Tuesday Evening'. The judges wrote: "There is a warm caste over the entire painting that suggests a scene from a film. There is a sensation of looking in from the outside as if a voyeur.
"The warmth of the painting is nicely counterpointed by the blue glow of the laptop screen in the father's face. He is caught in a moment when he rubs his eye - a nicely observed detail.
"This is work is painted with sensitivity and a brave decision to allow space between the father and the reading lamp. Anna should look closely at the work of Edward Hopper for the cinematic qualities of his paintings. Also watch Hitchcock's 'Rear Window'."
The Key Arts Award for Innovation went to Ellie Benfield (Ipswich High School) for 'Camouflage Furniture' a three dimensional work of tables and stools which could be fitted into a backboard and made to resemble war-time camouflage.
The judges wrote: "A simple construction technique but a neat concept of making ply furniture that can also be stacked into wall apertures. This has implications for multiuse spaces that need floor space available that can then be transformed into social spaces for seating, talking, eating etc.
"Furthermore a more expansive wall with the storage holes could lend itself to operating as a moveable relief wall sculpture. The reference to camouflage pattern is also good - irregular shapes that are good to look at and functional."
The Ipswich Art Society Award winner was Isabelle Tucker (Ipswich High School) for her cheekily innovative Water Butt Bench.
Commendations included: Jamie Allport (Suffolk One) who submitted the sculpture 'Cubist Head'; Joel Harris (Kesgrave High) who entered the photography collage 'London Protests; Esme Chancellor (Ipswich School) who submitted the painting 'Life After Nina and Isobel Baker (Kesgrave High School) for her 'Self Portrait' painting.
Jan Watson said that Anna Airy would have been proud that her name was being attached to an art prize which was helping talented young artists realise their dream. "Anna Airy was one of the leading artists of her generation, a distinguished portrait painter and printmaker and an official war artist for the First World War."
Despite her authoritarian views she was well regarded by students because she was a natural born teacher and had a witty personality which tended to deflect some of her more conservative ideas - which made her seem rather silly and outdated a long time before her death at Playford in 1964.
The Anna Airy exhibition, sponsored by The Arts Society (South East Suffolk), runs at the University of Suffolk until November 28.