The winner of the inaugural GM Arts Prize in 2016 was Manchester-based photographer, digital artist and film maker, Andrew Brooks.
The Chamber launched the Arts Prize thanks to a public grant from Arts Council England, and received over 220 entries in total from professional and semi-professional artists from across Greater Manchester in the form of paintings, photographs, drawings, mixed media, digital prints, solar etchings and sculptures.
Andrew’s photograph, entitled ‘Field Studies – Odin’s Gully’, was taken in the Peak District in October and is one of a series of photographs taken over four seasons.
Kwong Lee, Gallery Director at Castlefield Gallery in Manchester, who was on the judging panel, said: “The quality of the entries for the first GM Arts Prize was really high, representing some of the excellent artists working in Greater Manchester right now. The judges selected 24 original paintings, photographic works, prints and sculpture by 21 artists. We want to commend all the artists who entered, and especially the prize winners.
“The four judges were unanimous in selecting Andrew Brooks’ composite photography work as the winner of the GM Arts Prize 2016. We thought Field Studies – Odin’s Gully has a sublime quality that made us look at it again and again. This original work also reminds us of western Classical Landscape painting, but updated to a modern day Peak District setting, and made up of photographs taken over four seasons. There is something enduring about this image that speaks to our human existence in the world.”
Also on the judging panel were: Paulette Terry Brien, co-director of The International 3 and co-curatorial co-ordinator of The Manchester Contemporary; Sarah Hardacre, International contemporary print artist practising in Greater Manchester; and Louise Durose, General & Legal Counsel at MAN Diesel & Turbo UK Ltd and collector of northern art.
Andrew said of his win: "It’s great to have my landscape picked as the winning piece for the very first GM Arts Prize. There is a fantastic selection of Greater Manchester artists on the shortlist and this prize will be a big help in sharing our work and supporting the city’s artist community.
“My piece is a large format landscape photograph of an area called Odin's Gully in the Peak District, less than an hour’s drive from Manchester. I've been returning to this same spot many times over the last year and recording the changing seasons in vivid detail. This image was captured just after sunrise on late summer’s day."
The GM Arts Prize has received support from across the business community, including main sponsors, TransPennine, and sponsors of the runners-up prizes: The Appointment Group, Key for the City and Antz Network.
Commenting on the competition, Joy Sewart, Arts Prize lead and director of operations at Greater Manchester Chamber, said: “We wanted to launch the GM Arts Prize to provide a platform for emerging contemporary visual artists in Greater Manchester, and enable them to become connected to the region’s business community.
“We feel passionately at the Chamber that, as businesses, we should not work in isolation, but work alongside artists and the arts community in our region. Working with artists from a variety of genres can not only enrich our businesses, but also provide opportunities for artists to be recognised on a national and international scale, retaining artistic talent in our area.”
The winner and the three runners-up, Ruby Tingle from Manchester, Iain Andrews from Manchester and Pat Flynn from Stockport, received their prizes at the Chamber’s Annual Dinner, which takes place on 19th May 2016 at the Victoria Warehouse.
Bury-based artist, Leigh Humby, has specially designed and produced the awards which will be presented by director of strategy at TransPennine, Louise Ebbs, and actor and comedian, Craig Charles, who will be hosting the event.
As well as receiving the award, the winner and runners-up will also receive vouchers from art suppliers, Fred Aldous, artist paper from G.F. Smith and exhibition space at the Chamber’s Summer Exhibition. Commencing in June, the exhibition will include the winning pieces as well as many of the entries shortlisted for the prize.
To find out more about the GM Arts Prize visit www.gmartsprize.co.uk