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Suffolk’s young artists shine in Anna Airy Award show at University of Suffolk

PUBLISHED: 11:49 23 November 2017

A Gentleman of the Road, by George Hunt, Ipswich School, winner of the Anna Airy Award for A level art students being held at the University of Suffolk. Photo: Andrew Clarke

A Gentleman of the Road, by George Hunt, Ipswich School, winner of the Anna Airy Award for A level art students being held at the University of Suffolk. Photo: Andrew Clarke

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The Anna Airy exhibition, staged by the Ipswich Art Society, and held at the University of Suffolk, is one of the highlights of the cultural calendar. Its a showcase for bright young talent and once again arts editor Andrew Clarke is dazzled by the work on display

Self Portrait 1&2, by Ami Zhang, Kesgrave High School, runner up of the Anna Airy Awardfor A level art students being held at the University of Suffolk. Photo: Andrew ClarkeSelf Portrait 1&2, by Ami Zhang, Kesgrave High School, runner up of the Anna Airy Awardfor A level art students being held at the University of Suffolk. Photo: Andrew Clarke

Breathtaking is just one of the words that can be used to describe the art work on display at the annual Anna Airy exhibition on the Ipswich Waterfront.

It’s a hugely prestigious showcase for Suffolk’s A Level art students and represents the emerging talent to be found in the county. Staged by the Ipswich Art Society and hosted by the University of Suffolk, the Anna Airy Award and exhibition has been staged since 1965 in memory of the Art Society’s former President who championed the work of young artists.

The exhibition has grown substantially over the years and this year has 180 works on display drawn from 13 schools from across the county. All the artists are aged between 16-20.

The Anna Airy exhibition for A level art students being held at the University of Suffolk. Photo: Andrew ClarkeThe Anna Airy exhibition for A level art students being held at the University of Suffolk. Photo: Andrew Clarke

There are four prizes on offer: The Anna Airy Award for painting or drawing; the Ipswich Arts Society Award for excellence in any media and the Key Arts Award for innovation. There is also the Crystal Star Award, sponsored by the University, which is voted for by visitors to the exhibition.

Jan Watson, from the Ipswich Art Society, said: “The standard of work continues to rise. Twenty years ago this would have been a degree show. The skill and talent on display is awe inspiring. One of the things that really excites me each year is that there is no over all theme. They are working with all sorts of materials, all sorts of different media and what we see is what is on the minds of these young artists and their vision and imagination, their creativity and skill, is something which we are thrilled to be able to share. We want as many people as possible to come along to the University of Suffolk on the Ipswich Waterfront and just marvel at the talent that this county has produced.”

This year the exhibition was judged by Dr Jane Watt, senior lecturer in fine art at the University of Suffolk. She awarded the Anna Airy prize to George Hunt, of Ipswich School, for his portrait ‘A Gentleman of the Road.’

The Anna Airy exhibition for A level art students being held at the University of Suffolk. Photo: Andrew ClarkeThe Anna Airy exhibition for A level art students being held at the University of Suffolk. Photo: Andrew Clarke

In her assessment she wrote: “A fantastic arresting portrait that captures the direct gaze of the subject. I particularly enjoyed the relationship between the figure and background which shows a variety of mark making. Excellent choice of title.”

Ami Zhang, of Kesgrave High School, was the runner-up with Self-Portrait 1 and 2. Dr Watt said of her work: “A thought-provoking duo of portraits that show skilful composition and a conceptual approach to self-portraits.”

The Ipswich Art Society Award went to Laura Harle, of the Alde Valley Academy, Leiston, with the runner-up being Alfie Demmon, who was an independent entrant. The Key Arts Award was given to Madeleine Pearson, from Kesgrave High School, for a series of black and white photographs entitled Church Doors which were mounted on a series of rectangular boxes and stacked in such a way to suggest a church nestled on a bustling street.

Lioness, by Katie Patridge, Ipswich High School, part of the Anna Airy exhibition for A level art students being held at the University of Suffolk. Photo: Andrew ClarkeLioness, by Katie Patridge, Ipswich High School, part of the Anna Airy exhibition for A level art students being held at the University of Suffolk. Photo: Andrew Clarke

Among the wide range of work on display is an installation based on a vintage living room, a series of angel-inspired photographs, a life-size lioness made entirely out corrugated cardboard, a collage-portrait created out of rail tickets, a series of consumer magazine covers which challenge the nature of body image and the need for post-shoot digital enhancement and a group of four photographs of a female dancer wearing a lion’s head.

There was also a three dimensional monochrome abstract piece, an iron sculpture which swoops and loops in on itself, an embroidered and knitted full-sized model, a grime-influenced cityscape portrait of Theresa May surrounded by newspaper headlines and plenty of outstanding portrait and self-portrait work.

Carol Gant, Arts Curator at The University of Suffolk, said, ‘We are delighted to work again with Ipswich arts Society to host the Anna Airy Award Exhibition 2017 which showcases the wealth of emerging artistic talent among young people within our region. I am always inspired by the quality and range of work produced and I would encourage everyone to visit the exhibition.’

Jack 04/04/17, by Ellie Beard, Suffolk One, part of the Anna Airy exhibition for A level art students being held at the University of Suffolk. Photo: Andrew ClarkeJack 04/04/17, by Ellie Beard, Suffolk One, part of the Anna Airy exhibition for A level art students being held at the University of Suffolk. Photo: Andrew Clarke

The Anna Airy Exhibition, sponsored by Ipswich Decorative and Fine Arts Society (formerly NADFAS), runs at the University of Suffolk until November 29.

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