The Friends of University Art and Music (FUAM) celebrates its thirtieth year in 2019. The society was founded in 1989, by Mrs Audrey Burton OBE, to support and promote artistic and musical activities at the University of Leeds. FUAM’s primary purpose is to raise funds to enrich the cultural life of the University and the City of Leeds through support for the University’s International Concert Series and The Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery, including an annual Art Prize.

Audrey and her husband, Stanley Burton, had been longstanding supporters of the University and its Art Collection. It was with collaborative effort from Professor of Fine Art Lawrence Gowing, the Vice Chancellor Sir Roger Stevens and Stanley, that in 1970 the first University Art Gallery opened. In 2007, with Audrey Burton’s support, architects Pringle Richards Sharratt developed a more prestigious design for the Gallery and a year later The Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery was opened. The Burton’s passion for supporting arts and the Gallery lives on through the FUAM Graduate Art Prize.

The FUAM Graduate Art Prize, now in its seventh year, rewards the artistic excellence of students completing BA studies in Art and Design and Fine Art at the University of Leeds.

Last year’s winner, Hannah Marsh, speaking about her involvement in the show, said:

‘Exhibiting in the FUAM Graduate Art Prize exhibition was a fantastic experience for me, especially after graduating University which can feel daunting. It allowed me to exhibit my work in a professional environment and progress my artistic development. It instilled so much confidence in me to continue making and researching art.’

Since winning the prize Hannah has completed a residency at the Art House in Wakefield, worked as a creative practitioner for Modern Art Oxford Art Gallery, and has worked as an artist and special education assistant in a primary school. In September 2019 Hannah will start an MA in ‘Art, Aesthetics and Cultural Institutions’ at the University of Liverpool.

Emii Alrai, the winner from 2016, has gone on to have a solo show ‘Tutelaries’ at VITRINE in London this year, as well as being chosen as a Yorkshire Sculpture International Engagement Artist in 2019.

Image: Top left – Alex Oliver, Art Process: ‘Emerald (Anima)’, oil on canvas, 2019. © The Artist. Photo: Helen Brook – @helencbrook – http://www.helencbrook.com; Middle top – Eloise Burrows, Gybe-ho, wood, rope, bamboo and blinds, 2019. © The Artist; Top right – Bella Marr, Blue, Large, Acrylic on canvas, 2019. © The Artist / Photo: Jules Lister; Bottom – Katie Bennett-Rice, Holdfast (detail), fineliner pen on paper, 2019. © The Artist

This year’s finalists are Eloise Burrows (BA Art and Design), Katie Bennett-Rice (BA Art and Design), Bella Marr (BA Fine Art) and Alex Oliver (BA Fine Art with History of Art). Themes explored by the finalists include intimacy and the physicality of painting, the playfulness of public art, the alchemy of making materials from natural resources and the unconventional beauty of nature. They will collaborate with the Gallery team to create a group exhibition of their work, opening to the public on Wednesday 14 August.

Join us at the exhibition preview Tuesday 13 August, 6-8pm for a free, special evening launch event, where you can have an exclusive preview of the exhibition before anyone else, and vote for your favourite in our People’s Choice Award!

Featured images: Hannah Marsh, For Eya, Susie and I (7) (detail), ink drawing using cleaning tools, 2018. © The Artist. FUAM prize winner 2018