A hand painted 3D installation based on a paper peep show or ‘teleorama’ optical device has won this year’s John Ruskin Prize.

Proscenium by London-based artist Juliette Losq was chosen by a jury of seven featuring, amongst others, the artists Hew Locke, Barbara Walker MBE, and Jessie Brennan.

It was selected from a shortlist of works by 41 artists and designers, currently on display at the Holden Gallery, Manchester.

The jury was impressed by the ‘form and content of the work’ as well as ‘the elegant brushwork at odds with the brutality of urban decay brought full circle as nature reclaims its rightful place’.

Losq said: “I share with John Ruskin an interest in both ruins and watercolour as a medium. My work focuses on marginal areas within cities and towns – those areas awaiting redevelopment, including post-industrial remnants and waste ground.

“Unlike the ruins of previous eras these sites are considered unworthy of preservation. By recreating the experience of such locations on a large scale I aim to elevate their status and, in a sense, preserve them as havens from the progress of both time and industrial development.”

She added: “By working on large scale and building up the complexity of the image I aim to challenge the notion of watercolour as a sketching medium or one to deployed on a small scale. Like Ruskin I am interested in the intricacy of nature and using draughtsmanship and craft to explore this.”

A second prize of £1,000 was awarded to Shanti Panchal for his watercolour painting, Brexit. The £1,000 prize for work by a student or recent graduate went to Chao Wang for his digital video piece, Walk with Me.

The theme of this year’s prize, which attracted over 1260 entries, was ‘Agent of Change’.

The prize’s managing director Rachel Price said that the responses to the theme highlight “the active role of artists as perception shifters and catalysts of positive change in our society”.

She added: “As Ruskin did some 150 years ago, the selected artists shed new light and innovative perspectives on societal, political and environmental issues – the collective voice from the 2019 shortlist is a refreshing antidote to apathy – with a stark and sometimes satirical reminder that sitting on the fence never changed a thing.”

The full list of shortlisted artists featured in the exhibition is:

Balal Aquil, Omid Asadi, Lucy Burscough, Tracey Bush, Duncan Cameron, Faye Claridge, Judy Clarkson, Wayne Clough, Connor Coulston, Sarah Craske, Smout Allen Design Research, Sarah Duncan, Lisa Earley, Kate Genever, Nigel Goldsmith, Evagelia Hagikalfa, Martin Hearne, Michelle Heron, Harriet Mena Hill, Marguerite Horner, Benedict Hughes, Juliette Losq, Pinkie Maclure, Farwa Moledina, Julie Moss, Fronc Ng, Kazuki Nishinaga, Shanti Panchal, Lucy Pass, Lee John Phillips, Hilary Powell, Mike S Redmond & Faye Coral Johnson, Gabrielle Roberts-Dalton, Conor Rogers, Katrin Spranger, Emilia Symis, Kathy Taylor, Danny Treacy, Chao Wang, Pip Woolf, Colin Yates.

The John Ruskin Prize 2019 exhibition continues until 24 August 2019 at The Holden Gallery, Manchester. www.ruskinprize.co.uk/exhibition

The event, Drawing Democracy, takes place at The Holden Gallery on Thursday 18 July, 6-8pm 

1. Juliette Losq, Proscenium, 2018, ink and watercolour on paper, 200cm x 280cm x 200cm
2. Left: Shanti Panchal, Brexit, 2018, watercolour on paper; Right: Chao Wang, Walk with Me, 2019, digital video

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