Fleece Painter is Welsh Artist of the Year 2011
13th June 2011
Paul Emmanuel first had the idea for fleece painting while walking around the country lanes and fields surrounding his home and studio at Penycae. He now uses sheep fleece donated by his farming neighbours instead of canvas for his work He grooms and backcombs the wool with oil paint using hairdressing accessories like combs and hairbrushes instead of conventional art brushes to apply the paint.
Paul EmmanuelHis vibrant green fleece painting Penrhiwllythau, named after the farm which gave him the black Balwen fleece, beat 400 other art works to win the title and £2,000 prize.
Judge Emma Geliot said: ‘Paul Emmanuel's painted fleeces are eye-catching at first, but their meaning becomes apparent on closer inspection. They bring together a number of strands of his practice at a critical point in his career: his ongoing investigation of paint and colour and his interest in place/location. Through the use of the colours used to mark sheep on the hills around his rural home these strands are beautifully brought together.’
Paul, who was born in Maesteg and grew up in Port Talbot, said: ‘I’m thrilled to win. There is no other competition like it in Wales which profiles what is going on in the Welsh art world on an annual basis and it is fantastic to be part of it. This year things seem to be coming together for me. I am settled in my studio and not going to work anywhere else, so it’s an important title to win and I hope it exposes my work to a wider audience.’
Paul explained the origins of his unique art: ‘I first started collecting fleece caught on barbed wire fences when I was out walking and tried to use them in my work, but the pieces were too small. Then I was talking to a barmaid in my local pub who said her grandmother owned a sheep farm. The next day a little 72-year-old woman turned up with six lovely full fleeces and that’s when I started really getting stuck into working with the whole articles.’
‘Some critics have said that my work has a sexual connotation and I suppose that because of the hair they do relate to the body quite a lot. But I see them as hair-dos for sheep. By giving them names of local farms I try to keep their rural identity.’
Six other main prizes were presented by broadcaster Nicola Heywood-Thomas at the awards ceremony, which was held at St David’s Hall, Cardiff, on Sunday, June 5.
Brecon-based silversmith Pamela Rawnsley won the Runner-up and Applied Arts Prize with her entry Three Vessels. The three large silver and gilded bowls are a more recent departure from the jewellery which has earned her international acclaim.
Judge and winner of the 2007 title Walter Keeler said: ‘Pamela’s work took my breath away. It is rare for work of uncompromising precision, which is spectacularly well made to communicate with such poetry, to breath such life into cold metal.’
The award for Drawing went to former curator of the British Art Show Jacqueline Poncelet for her painting Bryn Ogwyr, which was inspired by her home in Ogmore Vale.
German photographer Eva Bartussek, who is a mature PhD student at Swansea Metropolitan University, was presented the Photography Prize for Welsh Dresser, a photograph of her eight-month-pregnant friend taken in a field at night.
French artist Pascal-Michel Dubois, who is now based in Nelson won the Printmaking Prize for Meteor III, a painstakingly detailed digital photo montage 360 degree panorama of a tree which seems to float in the air.
The Student Prize went to Swansea Metropolitan Architectural Glass MA student Rhian Haf of Gwythevin, Abergele for her glass sculpture Glass, Light and Space - a group of glass houses cast using the ancient lost wax technique.
A new category prize of Mixed Media was won by Aled Simons, Swansea for a collage titled The Arrangement.
Exhibition curator Ruth Cayford said: ‘I hope this win brings Paul Emmanuel the recognition that he deserves. He breaks convention, pushes boundaries and challenges the way that paint is used- all with such integrity. Paul so deserves the title Welsh Artist of the Year 2011.’
The winning entries will form the centre piece of the Welsh Artist of the Year Exhibition 2011, which runs at St David’s Hall, Cardiff, from Monday, June 6 until Saturday, August 6. The exhibition features the work of all the prize winners plus more than 80 other pieces to make the shortlist.
WINNERS IN FULL
Overall Winner and Painting Prize:
Paul Emmanuel, Penycae, Swansea Valley
Title of exhibit: Penrhiwllythau (oil paint and hair lacquer on Balwen fleece)
Runner Up and Applied Arts Prize
Pamela Rawnsley, Llanfrynach, Brecon
Title of exhibit: Three Vessels (silver, oxide gilding)
Jacqueline Poncelet, Ogmore Vale
Title of exhibit: Bryn Ogwyr 2010 (gouache on water colour paper)
Eva Bartussek, Swansea
Title of exhibit: Welsh Dresser (photograph)
Pascal-Michel Dubois, Nelson, Treharris
Title of exhibit: Meteor III (digital photographic print)
Rhian Haf, Gwythevin, Abergele
Title of exhibit: Glass, Light and Space (glass)
Aled Simons, Swansea
Title of exhibit: The Arrangement (medium collage)
Jacqueline Alkema, Cardiff
Title of exhibit: Molly (oil on canvas)
Claire Curneen, Cardiff
Title of exhibit: Daphne (porcelain, gold lustre)
James and Tilla Waters, Llansadwrn, Camarthenshire
Title of exhibit: Five sketches (ceramic)
Megan Broadmeadow, Conwy
Title of exhibit: Anthem (video)
New Media & Sculpture Prize