The inaugural South Place Hotel Art Prize drew a terrific response from almost 30 MA graduates of London art schools. The judges – who include Hanne Puttonen from Frogmore, David Loewi from D&D London, Pete Courtie from Islington Council and Tom Jeffreys from Spoonfed – had their work cut out when it came to shortlisting just four pieces of work.
Our friends Matthew Nickerson and Lydia Cowpertwait at Hoxton Art Gallery did a terrific job of organizing the competition, spreading the word and hosting the initial round of judging. Both the number of entries and the quality of the work exceeded expectations, and there was a lot of lively debate among the judges as to who should be shortlisted. That said, there was a shared sense of excitement and satisfaction among the judges when the list was whittled down to Kasia Depta-Garapich, Zemer Peled, Kaori Takusu and Ashley YK Yeo. South Place’s General Manager, Bruce Robertson, one of our judges, commented that, “the field is wide open. All four shortlisted artists are at a fascinating stage in developing their practice and have very different ideas about how to animate the window on South Place.”
Curiousity & Questioning: Kasia Depta
Kasia, who has a MA in Fine Art from Slade, was first to enter the ‘dragon’s den’, fairly weighed down with models and samples. Her work appears at first deceptively simple: two giant rolls of paper that fit the window on South Place, with a ‘porthole’ cut through each. However, the paper tubes would be lined with mirrored paper, so that views out and in are reflected back at the viewer. Inside each tube, a small screen would show a short, looped film of a bedroom corridor with a door slowly closing – another example of the interplay between formal structure and movement. The judges certainly interacted with Kasia’s work, peeping in and around the maquette that she brought with her, comparing paper samples and throwing in suggestions on how best to incorporate the film element.
Nature in a Domestic Space: Zemer Peled
There’s was lots more unwrapping and sampling to be done when Zemer Peled came in to present her idea, which is a progression of the work she made for her MA degree show in Ceramics and Glass at the Royal College of Art, and which she described as “a piece of nature inside a domestic space.” Zemer fires large sheets of ceramic and then smashes them to create the smaller shapes that she uses to build her work. (She also smashes the sculptures to pieces when a show ends – what will have taken her a week or more to make is in pieces within a matter of minutes.) Zemer would build her piece for the window at South Place in situ and so that it fitted the window such that, like a ship in a bottle, people would wonder how it got there. Public spaces, she said, were much more interesting than galleries because of the context – “the work changes every time.”
Derelict Detroit: Kaori Takasu
Another Royal College alumni, this time in Textile Design – Kaori came with her artist ‘scrapbooks’ and notebooks that she made on a visit to Detroit, where she was inspired by the sheer quantity of abandoned buildings and how empty spaces become re-animated. Like both Kasia and Zemed, Kaori was keen to fill the whole of the window with a piece of work, so that the art and its case become a single object that might have people scratching their heads in a “how did she do that?” way. Kaori’s idea involved different lengths of (tulip) wood painted in different colours and effects on different planes and fitted into a ‘wall’ of Perspex into which she would laser-cut individual holes for each block. Depending on the side and angle from which the finished work is viewed, the colours and effect change radically, as the sample that she passed around proved.
Light & Space: Ashley Yeo
The most ethereal proposal came from Ashley YK Yeo, a Fine Art graduate from Chelsea. In a painstaking process by which she hand-cuts intricate patterns into very fine, lightweight paper, Ashley proposed hanging three loosely organic shapes through the height of the window, where three-dimensionality and a dramatic, sculptural effect would be created through the interplay between the three layers and the manner in which the work was lit. Ashley explained that she is currently engaged by the idea of making and lightness – “the repetitive patterns create something quite meditative, both in the making and in the viewing,” she explained.
Watch This Space
The winning piece of art will not be unveiled until South Place Hotel opens in September. However, after the four presentations, the judges were each asked secretly to rank the pieces in order of preference. With the votes cast, a clear winner emerged – and her name will be announced at the end of July.