On the lookout for fresh new contemporary art? Look no further than the annual FUAM Graduate Art Prize. If you’re not familiar with the prize, it’s supported by the Friends of University Art & Music (FUAM) and rewards the artistic excellence of students completing BA studies in Art and Design and Fine Art at the University of Leeds. Each year four finalists are chosen to exhibit in a group show at The Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery. 

This year the FUAM Graduate Art Prize 2020 is going virtual! While The Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery is working on plans to safely re-open to everyone, you can still enjoy the freshest talent from Leeds’ budding art scene from home. The online exhibition is available to view via Google Arts & Culture, which includes zoom features, so you can still get up close and personal with your favourite piece. 

The finalists were selected by an expert panel of judges following submissions from recent graduates of the School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies and School of Design at the University of Leeds. 

The judging panel comprises Professor Alison Fell (Director of the Leeds Arts and Humanities Research Institute), Jane Bhoyroo (Producer, Yorkshire Sculpture International) and Helen Watson (Director, The Tetley – maternity cover). 

Roll call please: 

Sasha Napoli (BA Fine Art) 

Image credit: Sasha Napoli, Detail of ‘Banana Peel’, 2020. © The Artist. 

“My speculative practice aims to draw attention to that which often goes unacknowledged, to give value and attention to ‘lumps’ which are disregarded.” 

Poppy Jones-Little (BA Fine Art) 

Image credit: Poppy Jones Little, ‘lumpig at the discretion of the Conservator’, 2020. Arm of a damaged sofa, deconstructed and bound, 30.5 x 18.4 x 80 cm. © The Artist. 

“My speculative practice aims to draw attention to that which often goes unacknowledged, to give value and attention to ‘lumps’ which are disregarded.” 

T’Shah Henry (BA Art and Design) 

Image credit: T’Shah Henry, Emergence V (detail), 2020 (Series: Symbiotic Systems). Digital Image, envisioned dimensions: 25 x 187.5cm © The Artist. 

“I invite the audience to consider our place in nature, the intimate exchanges we share with the natural world and ideas of interconnected-ness in a digitally dominated culture.” 

Emma Lawrence (BA Art and Design) 

Image credit: Emma Lawrence, To Squeeze, plaster and plastic bin liner, 22cm/ 10cm, 2020. © The Artist

“Inspired by Richard Serra’s ‘Verb List’ (1967-68) each of these sculptures represent a single verb. The resulting sculptural forms are indicative of how different materials react to certain actions.” 

Speaking about her involvement in the show, 2019 winner, Katie Bennett-Rice, said: “Exhibiting in the FUAM Exhibition was an exciting and reassuring experience, instilling confidence in all the exhibiting artists, and was a brilliant opportunity to keep the momentum of final year going and really kick start my work after graduation. It was brilliant to work with the gallery team and gain a deeper understanding of the exhibition process in a professional environment which has been invaluable in my own development.” 

Katie Bennett-Rice, FUAM prize winner 2019

Since winning the prize Katie has worked as an artist’s assistant to a local Leeds artist. She was featured in and has been shortlisted for the Leeds Summer Group Show and exhibited in the Ones to Watch 2020 Exhibition at Sunny Bank Mills. 

The judges will return in October to announce the ‘Best in Show’ graduating student artist and each of the runners-up will receive a prize to aid them in their developing career as artists. The awards ceremony will be on 16 October 2020. Have your say and vote for your favourite artwork to win the People’s Choice