Two people sat down, turn around to smile at the camera in a studio

New East London Art Prize announces shortlist from an impressive near 700 entries

Bow Arts’ is delighted to announce the shortlist of 12 east London-based artists for the new East London Art Prize; Alaa Alsaraji, Kat Anderson, David Aston, Lulu Bennett, Damien Cifelli, Phoebe Collings-James, Sophie Cunningham, Cora Sehgal Cuthbert, Ufuoma Essi, Woo Jin Joo, Lulu Wang and Xinyao Yu.

Selected from an impressive 670 entries – roughly 17% of artists working in east London today – the Prize submissions were encouragingly reflective of east London’s diversity, with one third of entrants identifying as Black, Asian or ethnically diverse and including work from across the visual arts spectrum.

“We were bowled over by the sheer number of submissions to our first East London Art Prize. The shortlisted artists represent a stellar line-up with original and thought-provoking works which cleverly and creatively probe important societal issues. The works use humour, personal experience, documentary interviews, pain and a re-imagining of our world to create their unique narratives; the coming shortlist exhibition in the Nunnery Gallery will be very special indeed” 

Sophie Hill, Director of Arts & Events at Bow Arts

The highly respected selection panel, made up of artist Larry Achiampong, art critic and broadcaster, Louisa Buck, Ellie Pennick, Director of east London’s Guts Gallery, and curator and Director of The Line, Megan Piper, were impressed by the quality of submissions but managed to whittle them down to a final list of 12 for a striking and thought-provoking inaugural shortlist exhibition.

Aiming to celebrate one of the most vibrant cultural hubs in Europe, the Prize’s shortlist includes artists born in South Korea and China, as well as those local to east and southeast London. Themes explored in the shortlisted works included cultural displacement, the shared histories of black British women, isolation and belonging within Muslim communities, disability and navigating everyday life as a disabled person. There was also a broad range and exploration of media in the shortlist, with film, ceramic, painting, performance, and sculpture all included.

“It’s been really interesting going through the submissions, I use the word diversity not just in terms of medium and method but also in terms of content and the representation of every kind of sexual or ethnic background. All sorts of extraordinary stories have been told – expressions of the sheer range of what art can communicate. The shortlist truly demonstrates what an incredibly creative destination East London is.”

Louisa Buck, writer and broadcaster

All shortlisted artworks will be presented in an exhibition at Bow Arts’ prestigious Nunnery Gallery in January 2023 where the overall winner of a £15,000 cash prize will be announced. In addition to the cash award, the winner will receive a solo exhibition at the Nunnery Gallery in 2024, developed in conjunction with Bow Arts and run as part of the Gallery programme. A second prize of a year’s free studio space at Bow Arts, equivalent to £2,000, will also be awarded. The winners will be announced at the shortlist show in January. 

“I think the thing I’ve enjoyed the most is seeing the high level of tenacity and hunger in the submissions; anyone coming to see the shortlist exhibition in January 2023 will equally be impressed by this. They all have strong ambition in what they’re creating and display a hunger for conversation. I think that’s really important in these polarising times within the UK, let alone the world”

Larry Achiampong

Sponsored by Minerva and supported by East Bank and other east London based partners including V&A East, Whitechapel Art Gallery, UCL, LCF, and LLDC, the Olympic Park Charity, as well as the British Council and Dulux, the Prize is designed to celebrate and showcase the quality of art made by professional artists living or working in east London. 

“A prize like this is important because it’s open to all artists – working in different mediums and at different points and in their careers. It’s about opening up opportunities; not only is there a substantial cash 1st prize with exhibition at the Nunnery, but there is also year-long studio space for the runner up and group exhibition for all the finalists.”

Megan Piper. Director and Co-founder of The Line

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