The chosen pieces are:
Pride Cows - Anne Bardsley
"This may be the one piece that I’m most proud of. I decided to enter a competition where the brief was 'what does Pride mean to you', I had to create a piece of art that encapsulated everything that I feel about Pride. I put my all into creating this piece, with so much thought and emotion behind my decisions. I also created a poem to go along side this painting with the aim to express how I truly feel about the subject matter. I didn’t win the competition but I am eternally grateful for the experience of creating something so personal, and the challenge that came with trying to visualise my belief was very welcomed. For me, Pride means bravery, acceptance, love and support.
I chose three cows of all colours to portray how different, yet beautiful and diverse we are and look. I stood them on top of each other to represent how together, when we are brave, we are stronger and can reach heights we could never dream of without love and support. Finally I chose the cow for the theme of the piece because there are many types of cow, each may look different at first glance but inside are intelligent, emotional and beautiful creatures, sound familiar, beautiful reader! I think we can follow their example, all it would take is Pride in ourselves and each other, worst case scenario we all stand about eating grass and mooing."
Out of Sorts - Beki Wills
"I can't remember doing these drawings over time, I know they are automatic responses to my everyday dealing with the world. So I'm proud that I have a visual response and a way of working out problems. They show the importance of the art and the process behind my work, which often seem abstract - I love them, because they are one continuous chain of thought which joins together. Out of Sorts captures those days when nothing seems to go right and there's always something in the back of your mind that's troubling you and doubt reigns supreme in a web of complications."
Ode to Blossfeldt - Bronwyn Oldham
"I am completely captivated by Mother Nature, who year after year continues without fail, to produce such amazingly beautiful blooms, forms, shapes and fragrances, whatever maybe happening in the world. After the strange year we have all had, tending my garden and growing these flowers has not only kept me sane, but brought a smile to my face, especially when I look at the work I have created long after the blooms have faded. I am really proud of being part of the cycle from cultivation to nurturing and tending to capturing them at their best before they fade and I hope they also give joy to those who view my work."
Pavement Plants at Bernard's House - Catherine Orr
"Plantain, dandelion and shepherd's purse grow up through cracks in the paving outside
a neighbour's house. Seeds explode. The next day they'd been sprayed with weed-killer.
I’ve always loved lying down in grass, looking at the sun and the wind moving over the leaves and the small worlds of stems, seeds and insects beneath our feet. In my photography I never managed to capture this. Somehow the images were too sophisticated, too detailed. I wanted the bare bones, something elemental to reflect how I felt about this underworld – and I feel that I have succeeded with these
cyanotypes. The images are honest and naturalistic: the plants are physically there, imprinted on the paper by the sun. The specimens are arranged haphazardly, not formally displayed as in traditional botanical illustrations. Neither are they perfect. As in real life plants may be damaged, stalks bent, seeds and pollen spilled haphazardly across the paper. The deep blues and tonal variations lend tranquillity, and echo the
shade of the trees and the moving light. There is a peacefulness and quietness about the prints, something we all needed during the last year. My images may be of weeds but I’m proud to have recorded them in prints that are aesthetically pleasing, and given them some well deserved recognition."
Scruffy Birds - Doublewhoop
"I'm proud because they're all skills I'm deliberately trying to build... some are loads harder than others, but I'm glad to be making progress. I made this image in an evening class (picture book illustration) where we were learning about how to mix colours. If the tutor had asked me 'please design a page of characters', I would have panicked and frozen up. Instead, they casually asked us to 'draw a scruffy bird with each new colour, just to see what it looks like on the page' and by the end of the class, this crew had arrived. Such clever and kind (and sneaky!) teaching."
Pirate Ship Vampire - E. R. Whittingham
"The latest in my series of Baroque vampires. I'm putting this piece forward because this, to me, shows how far I've come compared to my first Marie Antoinette-inspired vampire back in 2018. I was delighted to show her off and even more delighted that she found a new home so quickly! (Also, this was my first time painting a pirate ship in detail rather than just a silhouette!)"
Dust - Freya Carroll
"Dust is a self-portrait oil painting of me in a low and vulnerable state that, over months of work, became a testimony of self-acceptance and a piece that captured the moment I began to recognise the innate beauty in my genuine, unfiltered self. As someone with a deeply imbedded habit to self-criticise, I am proud of being proud of these pieces."
Only What's Red - Holly Holt
"Hair from my head and bones from my collection and thoughts of ritual, sacrifice, offerings, beachcombing, foraging. The things we find and the things we give away. I'm proud of this piece because it represents me really finding my voice as an artist. I have experimented with a lot of styles over the years and this piece is one of the ones where I'd really mastered working in ballpoint pen and have the delicacy and detail that I'd been hoping to achieve. This is also a very personal piece with concepts behind it that represent important parts of my personality or things I was experiencing at the time."
Phantasmagoria - Sian Cann
"This is a technique of taking four separate Polaroid photographs of one scene, and then lining them up to create one entire image from the four panels: I believe they call this a ‘polyptych’. After taking the photographs, I then did an emulsion lift on each of them, and painstakingly manipulated the unruly emulsions to line up correctly to make the image! The Original Polaroids were taken on a misty evening woodland walk. This was a perfect moment where the mist and fading light collided to create a magical spectrum of pinks behind the trees.
I am most proud of this piece because I have explored and achieved two things that I have been striving to achieve for pretty much my whole life! The first of these things is to capture the essence of trees: the ‘treeness’ of trees, if you will; the rawness and the realness of trees, as well as the magic and mystery that they exude.
The second thing I have always wanted to capture is the essence of the word ‘Phantasmagoria’. I love words, and ever since I was young, I would fill journals with words that I liked the sound of, and whilst reading I would write down words that I didn’t know and copy out their definition. In one of my earliest word journals, the noun Phantasmagoria appears: a sequence of real or imaginary images, like those in a dream. I love the sound of this word, and I have always been intrigued by its meaning and the images that it conjures in my mind. I have been striving to capture these images, to visually translate this word, through my art and photography for my entire life, and I finally think that with misty, mystical woodland emulsion lifts, I've gotten pretty close!"
The Mermaid's Purgatory - Tamsin Lonergan
"This piece was originally created back in May 2020. At the time, the country had been in lockdown for a couple of months and I was shielding my son and therefore not leaving the house at all. I set myself the challenge of creating a large piece, the sketch concept I'd initially started at least a year before. It also came at a time where I had on ongoing battle with depression, and the piece is actually a metaphorical take on the state of mind I have been in for many years, caught between life and death. The longing to live and reach that surface, to see a part of the world that has always felt out of reach, whilst also finding that that very thing is also what pulls me down to the bottom, where I'm continuously confronted by death; and yet I don't belong above the ocean, where the sun shines bright, or at the bottom, where darkness, death and despair reigns. I'm continuously caught in a sate of purgatory, between heaven and hell, life and death.
Since beginning the piece, I have been having counselling and it has been very interesting going back to a piece that has such a strong personal meaning to it, a year on, where I am now working hard to try and help myself. I'm immensely proud of this piece for multiple reasons, partially due to the circumstances it was created in, for the meaning it symbolises as well as the fact fact that it now serves as a reminder of how far I have come. It also is a visual reminder of who I am and who I want to be as an artist. I've struggled to find how my art style could be presented, but this piece is the direction I would love to take my art in."