University of Leeds: Major Leeds art prize showcases graduate talent

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This year’s FUAM Graduate Art Prize highlights thought-provoking work on gender and digital identity.

The prize and exhibition, supported by the Friends of University Art & Music (FUAM), celebrates its tenth anniversary this year.

Charged with themes of feminism, media, mental health and identity, the prize showcases the artistic excellence of students completing BA studies in Art and Design, and Fine Art, at the University of Leeds.

Four finalists were selected by an expert panel of judges, and an overall winner will be selected in October. Their work will be displayed in The Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery from today until 5 November 2022.

The finalists
Liv Hedges (BA Art and Design)
Liv Hedges has created a fictional 1960s style women’s clothing retailer, The Misogynarmoire.

She said: “The Misogynarmoire is a multidisciplinary installation that marries set building, photography, textiles, sound, and marketing design to form an immersive 1960s London high-street experience.

“The purpose of adopting this aesthetic is to narrate what it’s like to be female in contemporary society, through lenses of retro fashion, art and language.”

Sunny Wong (BA Art and Design)
Sunny Wong’s work reflects on the longer-term experience of engaging with social media and the influence this can have on mental health.

Sunny explained: “This set of work derives from my long-time experience with social media starting from the age of nine. My constant engagement with the internet from a young age influenced my mental health.”

Their work uses methods such as painting, drawing and screen printing to transfer elements like emojis from the virtual space to the physical.

Sunny invites audiences to unveil covered elements by lifting overlapped pieces, mimicking the gesture of swiping to reveal more information in digital interfaces.

Astrid Butt (BA Fine Art)

Astrid said: “My work takes on a feminist perspective, which I use to discuss harrowing topics, such as domestic abuse, motherhood and sexual assault.

“My art is a product of all the women in my life, to whom the trauma of being a woman has left them feeling out of control over their own bodies.”

Suman Shams (BA Fine Art)

Suman Shams’ art practice explores the different facets of her identity: her religious identity as a young Muslim woman, her ethnic identity as a second-generation British Pakistani and her digital identity as a Gen Z navigating the rapidly evolving technological landscape.

Suman works with images and videos from the internet, editing them to reinvent their purpose with a humorous or ironic tone.

Suman said: “The works also live as digital beings, designed to be seen through screens, but in the physical world, I play with how they are viewed and interpreted spatially, often via installation works or experimental sculptural forms.”

Exciting talent
Ibrahim Ince, who won the prize in 2021, has since been the Artist-in-Residence in an EU-funded research centre, CYENS Centre of Excellence, and shared his practice as a guest speaker for the Barbican Centre and the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus.

Ibrahim said: “Being exhibited in the FUAM Art Prize Exhibition during the pandemic allowed me to be a part of a unique and innovative digital experience. Seeing my work on the Google Arts & Culture platform, alongside inspiring final year students, has fostered confidence in my practice and led to many invaluable networks as well as opportunities.

“Being able to hear the interpretation of diverse audiences on a subject matter so personal to me has been a very meaningful process.”

Layla Bloom, University Art Collections Curator, said: “I’m overjoyed to be welcoming our FUAM Graduate Art Prize finalists back to The Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery. We’ve missed seeing their work in person.

“As ever, our judges have chosen an exciting group of young talented artists, and I’m looking forward to the buzz in the Gallery again. Visitors can vote for their favourite artist for the ‘People’s Choice’ award, which is great fun!”


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