The John Moores Painting Prize 2014

Mandy Payne, Brutal I, 2013

We hear from ten Axisweb members who have been selected for this year's John Moores Painting Prize, on show at the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool until 30 November 2014

Shortlisted Axisweb member - Mandy Payne

Mandy Payne has been shortlisted for the prize for her work, Brutal (shown above), she tells us more about it:

Brutal is made of cast concrete sprayed with aerosol paints. It was produced as a body of work that I made for my degree show at the University of Nottingham, where I graduated last year.  It is based on my explorations of Park Hill in Sheffield, the Grade II* listed council estate which is one of Britain’s largest examples of Brutalist architecture. 

Park Hill is currently a regeneration project and as such, I have found it an interesting place to observe.  Part of the estate has been transformed into shiny, luxury flats whilst half remains boarded up and derelict. A small remaining part is still inhabited. 
I am particularly drawn to the un-refurbished parts of the development where the memories and layers of the past are most tangible.

I was astounded and of course overjoyed to be shortlisted - to even have work selected for such a prestigious exhibition, especially as a recent graduate seemed unbelievable! It was particularly important for me as I recently gave up a long career in the NHS to paint full time and it has validated that difficult decision.

View Mandy Payne's profile >

Longlisted Axisweb members:

Jo Berry, Tom Hackney, Phil Ashcroft, Alli Sharma, Lexi Strauss,
Barbara Howey, Susie Hamilton, Karen Roulstone, Rebecca Sitar and Conor Rogers

Below, they each say a few words about the work they have entered into the competition and what it means to them to be selected.

  • Jo Berry

    Jo Berry, Untitled, 2013

    Untitled, 2013

    This work is part of a series I’ve been working on recently looking at images from stock photography websites. I have deliberately selected the unpopular images, images that have lost their value and are left impotent in a way, unable to persuade anyone to do anything. I like the idea of resurrecting them, changing their meaning from their original context into something else.

    A lot of these kind of images are of women, however I’ve been trying to avoid making an overt point about images of women in advertising. The image I used for this painting in its original context was of a young woman lying in a field, used to sell the idea of a healthy lifestyle. I think the reason it works as a painting is because it is no longer about that, its meaning is now very open to interpretation.

    To be selected is definitely a career highlight. It’s a really prestigious painting competition and this year’s selection panel includes artists whose work I have a huge amount of respect for, Lynette Yiadom-Boakye and Chantal Joffe. That is what is really meaningful for me, this level of recognition is very motivating.

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  • Tom Hackney

    Tom Hackney, Chess Painting No. 21 (Duchamp vs. Kostic, Nice, 1930), 2014

    Chess Painting No. 21 (Duchamp vs. Kostic, Nice, 1930), 2014

    Chess Painting No. 21 is part of an ongoing series of works based on transcripts of chess games played by Marcel Duchamp. The painting has a degree of autonomy according to the nature of the process, but I feel it stands for itself and for a larger collection of works and thoughts.

    I first visited the John Moores Painting Prize in 1997 when I was a student in Manchester. It was the first large-scale survey of contemporary painting I’d seen and it really opened my mind to new approaches, and to the many possibilities of painting. It’s great to have my work included in this edition - an exhibition I‘m sure will continue to circulate renewed possibilities and ideas.

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  • Phil Ashcroft

    Phil Ashcroft, Crockett, 2013

    Crockett, 2013

    Paul Hobson, Director Modern Art Oxford's writing relates well to this piece, he says:

    His specific form of gestural, emotive abstraction combines flattened out ‘80s style art deco and graffiti influences with references to American abstraction which often threaten to overwhelm the upper sections of his canvases. But it is an overtly Post-Modern type of abstraction, one that appears to forefronts process and gesture but is in fact computer generated translations of gestural painting reproduced as painting.

    In other paintings, the work is entirely abstract but it is as if he has cropped or zoomed into the image, suggesting digital manipulations re-presenting or editing Modernist formats.

    To be included in the John Moores Painting Prize has always been one of my ambitions and is, alongside creating a Godzilla film poster for the BFI and painting live in Tate Modern's Turbine Hall, a key moment in my practice to date.

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  • Alli Sharma

    Alli Sharma, Kitchen Sink Women, 2013

    Kitchen Sink Women, 2013

    The painting Ingrid 2 (A Kind of Loving) is from a series I made that put the spotlight on the women (instead of the 'angry young men') in British kitchen sink films of the 1950-60s. I'm interested in identity/class and our relationships with others. These films gave voice to the working-classes with stories about ordinary people trying to negotiate the social structures of postwar Britain. The films were set in the industrial towns of the north so I am particularly pleased that this painting is on show in Liverpool. The paintings are deliberately raw and pared back. I grew up in South Shields, near Newcastle, and my work usually references things, people or places lost or longed for.

    I am delighted to have had a painting selected for the John Moores Painting Prize exhibition. It is a prestigious prize that takes contemporary painting seriously and there is always an interesting selection of work included.

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  • Lexi Strauss

    Lexi Strauss, The Twelve Apostles as Babies, 2013

    The Twelve Apostles as Babies, 2013

    My subjects often appear clownish, displaying both a rigid facade and a vulnerable persona. Men are genuinely able to breastfeed naturally; perhaps this tender, yet somehow inadequate father personifies general human short-fallings in parenting proceeding generations.

    Narratives arising from interviews and my imagination are integral to my work. This painting indirectly illustrates The Twelve Apostles as Babies and The Vulnerable Party - two specious, fluid narratives that weave into and out of my imagery. They explore our complex relationships with belief systems.

    The Vulnerable Party relates the search for a supremely divine clown leader - humane and genuinely open, with strengths and weaknesses exposed. However, this ideology is incompatible with the idea of a ‘political party’ or movement, since it concerns individuation. Thus the party is reduced to a one-person campaign, without cabinet or voters.

    The Twelve Apostles as Babies tells of the infant apostles arrival for the second coming, but without Christ. Dressing up as Ghandi, Johnny Rotten and others, they learn the good deeds of those who came both after and before them. Eventually through their various careers, they manage to spread their good news, individually.

    I'm really thrilled about being shortlisted as I've just graduated with an MA from the RCA, so it's well timed.

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  • B. Howey

    B. Howey, Orange Sash ,

    Orange Sash ,

    This painting is based on an image taken from a webpage on Belfast where I used to live. It depicts a girl leading the banner on an Orange Order march. I am interested in the idea that this subject has autobiographical references but also that the image has been authored by another hand.

    I have painted the girl on a small scale, quickly and lightly rendered in thin oil paint. I wanted to suggest an anti-heroic, anti-history painting where the regalia of sashes and banners are juxtaposed by a child in her anorak, hair neatly pinned back and eyes downcast. 

    Being considered for the John Moores Painting Prize is, for me, a form of recognition as a painter from other artists and critics that I admire and respect.

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  • Susie Hamilton

    Susie Hamilton, Freezer, 2012

    Freezer, 2012

    The work that I entered for John Moores Painting Prize is called Freezer. It is from a series of paintings of solitary old women in the bleak aisles of supermarkets where shiny surfaces and sharp lines contrast with dishevelled shoppers such as this one.

    Based on rapid drawings from life, the figure is abbreviated to the point of grotesque vulnerability and made to seem more exposed by the burst of neon light which obliterates and eats into her body. The title also refers to the frozen, paralysed pose as the figure reaches into the white void of the rectangle. 

    Being in the John Moores Painting Prize means a huge amount to me. It is very thrilling to be included in this prestigious show where possibilities of painting are opened up and explored in such different and exciting ways.

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  • Karen Roulstone

    Karen Roulstone, Drift, 2013

    Drift, 2013

    Drift is part of a series of paintings which explore light, temporality and the possibility of ideas being illuminated through a decisive moment (der Augenblick), it is transient yet magically full of potential and significance.

    I am delighted to be longlisted for the John Moores Painting Prize.

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  • Rebecca Sitar

    Rebecca Sitar, Mount Lichen, 2008

    Mount Lichen, 2008

    The painting the judges selected is titled Under the Tree and is an oil on panel, taken from a recent series of work , that substitutes a figure for a single object of contemplation, previously seen as a leitmotif in my paintings.

    A photograph by Stephane Passet (1914) of an eastern sadhu covered in cremated ash near the river Ganges was the original source of inspiration for the painting. I used a two tone application to create a single unified space in the piece, where sky, tree and man are depicted as one. The painting was created in such a way to reflect a sense of interconnectedness between the central figure and his surrounding environment, synonymous with the sadhu’s spiritual belief system. The chosen application resulting in the perceived arrested fluidity of the paint, was intended to mirror the subject’s experiential quest to attain a sense of calm.

    I am absolutely delighted that my work has been selected for inclusion of the John Moores Painting Prize 2014 exhibition, it really means a lot to me to have my work considered for such a prize and am looking forward to the launch of the exhibition tomorrow and seeing all the other paintings.

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  • conor rogers

    conor rogers, 88 Calories, 2014

    88 Calories, 2014

    This is the painting that kickstarted my current practice and it kind of came about after eating a packet of crisps on my lunch break in the studio. I felt that when we approach paintings we tend to get lost in what is presented to us through the depicted image however '88 Calories' challenges the viewer to acknowledge more than just image but other qualities such as the substrate, or materiality. To identify these characteristics is to identify the complete reality of what the painting is.

    When I checked the confirmation email  I had the tickly sensation in my gut like the kind you get when your car suddenly drops with the curvature of a road. Just being preselected was an achievement but it's the first time I've applied for any competition/prize. To be in a show as famous as the John Moores can be considered a lifetime achievement, though I do forget I am still a young pup and have only just graduated.


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July 2014

Further reading

John Moores Painting Prize >

Liverpool Biennial >

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