LONDON.- This major new art prize is off to a flying start with over 2,700 entries submitted to the 11 regional prize drop off points around the UK. Lewis McNaught, Mall Galleries Director said "We have over 4,500 sq ft of gallery space, but we could barely get into the building when the submissions came in."
The prize is exclusively open to artists living or working in the UK, and has proved a massive hit with artists attracted by the potential to win up to £35,000 - which makes it the most valuable competition for a single work of art in the UK. The public will vote for one of seven shortlisted artists to win the Threadneedle Figurative Prize which is worth £25,000, and there is an additional £10,000 Federation of British Artists Selectors' Choice, for which the winner of the Figurative Prize is also eligible.
Lewis McNaught, confessed "We were absolutely overwhelmed with the response, and our judging panel had some really tough choices to make when selecting the 71 works which make up the exhibition.
McNaught continued, "What is particularly exciting is that the award has attracted artists of all ages and backgrounds: they range from art college graduates to Royal Academicians. There were some robust discussions over individual pieces, but we've ended up with a very exciting shortlist which captures the essence of figurative art. We want as many people as possible to visit the exhibition and to vote for their choice of shortlisted artist to win the £25,000 Threadneedle Figurative Prize.
McNaught finished on a tantalising note "The selectors have now chosen which shortlisted piece will receive the £10,000 Federation of British Artists Selectors' Choice. However, as this won't be announced until 3 September it's going to be fascinating to see if the Selectors' choice reflects that of the voting public."
The seven key shortlisted works include:
Paul Brandford's The clothes show, a vibrant portrait of Zimbabwe's leader, Robert Mugabe, shown decorated with ribbons and medals, standing between two henchmen;
Anthony Green's installation The heaven and earth machine, which employs the artist's late mother's dining room table to combine the potential of sculpture with painting;
Eloiza Mills' intricate portrait of Hannah, a miniature oil painting executed on copper, whose 'silent presence' evokes a Vermeer-like quality;
Nina Murdoch's luminous study of a derelict corner of South London, Untitled, a work that transforms the mundane into something sublime;
Tai-Shan Schierenberg's Self-portrait as a man of clay that continues his experiments with new forms of portraiture and the fallibility or mortality of the artist;
Tim Shaw's Tank on fire, a sculpture inspired by a 2005 photo image showing a British soldier in Iraq leaping to the ground from a burning Warrior vehicle; and
Nicholas Charles Williams' study Compassion postponed that examines the fluidity of compassion in contemporary society.