The Signature Art Prize is all about standing out from the crowd and producing a work of art with a distinctive style. It’s now in its seventh year and is open to students and recent graduates from art schools. Last year was a particularly strong field, so can this year’s entrants measure up to the same standard?
The 40 finalists are much more diverse than last year. This gives the exhibition the advantage of having a wider breadth of appeal but it also means that the prize has become a little less distinctive from other prizes awarded to emerging artists.
The four category winners highlight the variety of art on offer, from Kevin Dowd’s macabre yet fun photograph of a man falling from an airborne carnival ride to Claire Anscomb’s subtle drawing remembering past events. Alice Kelway-Bamber’s zigzagging sculpture has immediate impact while Gwenyth Fugard’s abstract painting needs more time to sink in.
Other notable entrants include Hollie Mackenzie, who deservedly won a people’s choice award for her brilliant melted doorway, and Tibor Galamb’s photograph with its contrasting interplay of light and shadow.
This year’s competition has moved away from the contemporary pop art and high visual impact of last year’s exhibition and it has suffered a little because of it. Having said that, there are still enough powerful works on display to make this a solid representation of the student and graduate art scene.
The winners and finalists of the Signature Art Prize will be on display at DegreeArt, 12a Vyner Street, E2 9DG from 3 April to 4 May. Entrance is free.