It was a night of celebration and inspiration as hundreds of artists, supporters and friends joined Outside In at Piano Nobile Kings Place on Friday 8th November for the opening of 2019’s national exhibition ‘Environments’ and to hear the announcement of the three prize-winners selected by this year’s renowned judging panel – Grayson Perry, Cathie Pilkington and Robert Travers.
A call out this summer had asked for artists to respond to the theme of ‘Environments’, submitting work in any form or materials. More than 900 art works were submitted for the exhibition from across the UK and the Republic of Ireland. 80 pieces were then selected by a panel comprised of Outside In artist James Lake, artist Laura Ford and ActionSpace director and Outside In trustee Sheryll Catto and works chosen ranged from digital print, photography, embroidery, assemblage and clay sculpture to works created with pen, pencil, chalk, oil paint, watercolour, felt tip and charcoal. They include views of the countryside and inner city landscape, from New York City to the Scottish Highlands to the South Coast. Also chosen are perspectives on daily life, from dancing at a party to taking the Tube, plus a wide range of abstract impressions and imagery inspired by nature and popular culture, from cats, monkeys to The Beatles. All pieces submitted are on show on a screen in the gallery.
Joining Outside In director Marc Steene, chairman Charles Rolls and exhibition curator Cornelia Marland, each of the judges declared that, due to the exceptional standards and variance of the work on show, it was almost impossible to pick just three prizes. However, first prize was finally awarded to a piece made in felt tip pen by Alan Payler, entitled ‘The Garden’. Alan’s drawings result from a gentle, delicate way of working where even large areas of colour are undertaken in small, careful steps. His pictures often combine small areas of detail with large areas of space and colour. Alan attends the Community Art Project in Darlington – a project for adults with learning disabilities. His work has been included in numerous CAP exhibitions. The first prize will be a solo exhibition in 2021 at Phoenix, one of Brighton’s major public arts institutions, whilst a second and third prize of art material funds were also be awarded.
Second prize was awarded to another piece in felt-tip by Phillip Knights, entitled The Conversation. Philip likes to create scenes populated with figures, machines and objects sometimes invented through his own imagination but also inspired by images from everyday source material around him. Philip also attends the Community Art Project in Darlington and has exhibited widely.
Delighted at the news, Laurence Ward from the Community Art Project in Darlington comments : “At the Community Art Project we are always trying to raise the level of ambition of our artists and find new audiences for their work. Opportunities like the Environments exhibition make that task possible and make our efforts rewarding and meaningful. I was able to enjoy the launch event with three of our selected artists and seeing the work so well presented in such an impressive venue was a real pleasure and boost to us all. The prizes for both Alan and Philip are a wonderful unexpected bonus and being able to look forward to staging an exhibition at Phoenix Gallery in Brighton is a truly exciting prospect. We are really grateful to Outside In, Piano Nobile and the other exhibition sponsors for providing such a memorable event.”
The third prize goes to Alastair and is a tiny ‘Buddha’ made in clay. He says, “I started making art when I was aged 13. I get a pen and paper and it happens spontaneously. It is the result of drawing for years and years. Sometimes my work represents how I feel, for example stressed or calm. There’s an aspect to art about what is aesthetically pleasing rather than how it makes you feel. I enjoy looking at other people’s work.”
“Art is a purely subjective thing. The winning work was the work of art that most closely aligned with something I would be happy to make myself and gave me joy. Also it was like something I had never seen before. I would very much like to come and see Alan’s solo show in Brighton.” Grayson Perry
“The work the judges have chosen is wonderful and eloquent and full of joy. I am so pleased that Alan has won. The judges loved that all three artists were using non-traditional means to create work that speaks powerfully and with complete integrity.” Marc Steene, Outside In Director
“It is an incredibly moving and inspiring group of work. It’s been very difficult to choose a winner and I wish there were more prizes to give. The winner, Alan, managed to use such direct language and such simple means that was completely convincing and transporting. Philip’s fantastic figuration was so inventive and Alastair’s work was an example of wonderfully fresh figuration, using the material to embody the spirit of the Buddha. The two works made in felt tip and one in clay are all very direct and authentic. The ability to capture the bulk on such a small scale is quite something in Alastair’s work. I was really pleased to be able to choose a sculpture within the winners.” Judge Cathie Pilkington RA
“It was never easy with the variety and quality but the judges came to a shortlist and then it was hard to pin down the winners from this. Having three does make life easier and I am pleased to say there was not a huge disparity between what we all thought. The winning work struck me quite quickly and I think the other judges and I came to a comfortable decision between the three of us. It had an unconscious honestly.” Judge Robert Travers
The exhibition is showing at Piano Nobile Gallery, at London’s Kings Place until 1 January 2020.
NB – There is restricted access to the gallery on certain days so please make sure you check the weblink here prior to planning your visit : https://www.kingsplace.co.uk/your-visit/art-galleries/
Piano Nobile Gallery, Kings Place, London, 90 York Way, N1 9AG.