Robert Cervera’s works explore encounters (real or imagined) between our bodies and the physical structures that surround us, such as walls, enclosures and buildings. In Cures, photographic prints become containers for poured concrete that covers images of scraped or grazed body parts like some kind of ill-advised sticking plaster. In Swabs, concrete slabs are cast with bodycare products like glycerin and muscle rub, which disrupts the setting process and generates failures in the surface.
Samantha Donnelly’s materials-led approach to making is underpinned by references to art history and popular culture - specifically photography, TV, film and advertisements. Her work is made through questioning, rephrasing and reworking a range of sculptural matter - mass-produced household wares, imported fashion bargains and second-hand finds – and processes of editing, cropping, elimination, montage and narration. While some appear reliclike and precious, others are seemingly transient and momentary, on the edge of dissolve.
Andrew Ekins employs a concoction of materials to create works that explore the materiality of painting while investigating the embodiment of contemporary notions of beauty, the abject and the sublime. Often sculptural in their form, his paintings explore themes of mortality and decay, growth and renewal. The form of a work like Fat Of The Land - stacked, sagging, misshapen – alludes both to a body of land and to painting as a trope. Meaty brush strokes on a used t-shirt in Me, Myself and I, refer to the media obsession with skin, roughly pixelated as an expression of a confected, degraded beauty.
The focus of Alex Hardy’s work is how we see and understand the world through the prism of language. He applies certain linguistic techniques or processes to particular examples of commonly understood tropes in order to reflect, remove, loop or split language from meaning. In Friends, a palimpsest of twenty episodes of the popular, long running 1990’s television sit-com accentuates the formulaic aspects, highlighting the limited number of sets and characters, rendering it at once familiar and chaotic; hypnotic and repelling.
John Lawrence’s work deals with the contemporary mediated experience, mining a world of popular culture, imagery and film footage from vast array of sources. He works across text, object, video and print, reconfiguring familiar cultural tropes to offer up new readings and open out meaning within a common popular language. In I’ve Been Loving You Too Long, we appear to be offered some kind of insight to the contemporary creative process, the oblique, disembodied activity accompanied by Otis Reading’s classic soul track. johnlawrence.tv
Gorka Mohamed’s paintings explore amorphous-forms, serious cartoons and organic geometries. They create an extravagant and enigmatic world in which each painting may suggest many themes, while remaining ambiguous. His irrational portraits are constructed out of an accumulation of shapes, forms and objects in an almost sculptural way, making reference both to classical painting and a sense of alienation from a contemporary world grotesquely saturated by images and information. gorkamohamed.com
WINNER - 2014
Hannah Murgatroyd’s work hinges on an ongoing exploration of an evolving, open visual narrative in words and images under the title of Lumpenstadt. Conceived as a non-linear novel of images, unfolding over paper and canvas rather than the pages of a book, recent works are staged in the setting of an otherworldly country estate, making reference to both personal and historical tales and the history of the body as told through art - both high and low. Each image drawing is the conclusion of layer upon layer of gesture, every line marking the division between inner consciousness and outer concreteness. hannahmurgatroyd.com
Often working in Narrative series that unfold across painting, performance and video practice and seek out absurdity and subversion, Lexi Strauss explores ideas of individuation and complex human relationships with belief systems. The series The Twelve Apostles as Babies, follows the aforementioned babies’ development, having arrived for the second coming without Christ, thereby being required to work things out for themselves. Paintings depict the children dressed as Ghandi, Johnny Rotten and others, as they learn the good deeds of those who came before and after them. lexistrauss.com