Northern Art Prize. 2009

Now then, Northern Art Prize. Thought I’d give this one a mention. A first look at the blurb about the prize states…

In towns and cities across the north, an economic and cultural renaissance is transforming attitudes and confounding old stereotypes. Visual art has played a crucial role in that transformation and continues to be a significant part of our communities. Developments like the Baltic Centre For Contemporary Art, The Liverpool Biennial, The Yorkshire Sculpture Park and The Henry Moore Institute have consolidated artistic activity and continue to feed a growing appetite for contemporary visual arts.

The time is right to recognise the contribution artists make to our society by rewarding the best creative talent in the region. By supporting artists of this generation, the Northern Art Prize hopes to encourage future generations and contribute to the establishment of the north as a place of imagination and excellence.

Now doesn’t that just speak my language! Until you realise that this competition, annoyingly, restricts itself to artists, working and living in the north of England. Hmm….!!!!

My North you see… (which will be different to your “North’s,”) currently stretches from the east to the west coast, north to Edinburgh and Glasgow and south probably as far as Sheffield. I say currently, because I’m quite prepared to extend my “Northern comfort zone” … in fact I’m planning on pushing my North, up the east coast of Scotland to Dundee and Aberdeen later this year! (Perhaps I should work harder on my southern mental boundary… its just sooo much more difficult!)

Anyway as usual I’ve wandered off the beaten track, vaulted neatly, over the fence of bitter resentment and entered the field of WTF was I on about?… Yes… The Northern Art Prize. Now the North, (my North) has provided some cracking artists over the years, Hockney, Moore (Henry not Patrick,) Hirst, Lowry, Paolozzi, Mach, etcetera, etcetera and so on and so forth.

The very modest, Pavel Büchler, (Professor non the less) won this years wonga prize of 16,500 quid, at an award ceremony at Leeds Art Gallery on the 21st Jan. Now you don’t need to be a Northern native remember! just living and working in the north, and I can let that go, the guy likes Manchester and it’s obviously having a positive effect on his work. Born in the former Czechoslovakia but based in the UK since 1981, Büchler, who summarises his art as “making nothing happen” won the “Turner of the North” prize for a piece entitled “Eclipse” the press release describes it as;

Partly inspired by the photograph of a total solar eclipse taken in 1919 by Sir Arthur Eddington to test Einstein’s theory of general relativity, originally published as a negative image, and partly by the poetics of an everyday analogy in science education. Nine 1950’s Leitz Prado projectors, with their streamlined design combining the tradition of German functionalism with the futuristic aesthetics of space exploration, project circles of light on a wall, evoking the structure of the solar system. Found balls and other spherical objects inserted into the projectors’ optics create the effect of several overlapping eclipses revealed by the movements of the viewer in the space. The piece is shown in natural light, giving as much prominence to the presence of the projectors, the sound of their cooling fans and even the heat that they generate, as to the projected image. At the time when high definition video projection in darkened galleries has become a mainstream convention, it brings to mind the no-nonsense practices of the 1970’s ‘expanded cinema’ – its ‘cosmic consciousness’ or perhaps the title of a book by one of its main protagonists, Hollis Frampton, ‘Circles of Confusion’.

Leeds has been, (and still is, till the 21st Feb) hosting an exhibition of the work from the short listed nominees.  Circles of Confusion, Cosmic brilliance or Back lit balls ? Check it out, and decide for yourself. Personally, I’m quite intrigued by it, however I think I would have gone with the public vote and Matt Stokes’ film about the punk scene in Austin Texas, “These Are the Days

By Dave on February 17, 2010


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