Undergraduate Teddy Graham has been awarded first place in the Rylands Art Prize for their work Skin, a mixed media project that Teddy describes as "a mixture of painting, embroidery, hospital bands, baby clothes, love letters and goodbye notes, crammed onto an old denim jacket I used to wear every day". Three artists were awarded as joint runners-up: Euan Russell for his video piece exploring ‘architectures for the in-between’, John Palmer for his painting Instar and Eden Hogston for the mixed media composition Distorted by the Media.
Although it did not win a prize, the judges also highlighted Nascent, a seven-minute film produced and directed by PhD candidate Lindsay Branham. In Lindsay’s film two children - one Christian and one Muslim - seek answers in each other, as a bloody civil war in Central African Republic divides a once peaceful nation along religious lines. This year’s entries will be on display in the Art Rooms until 18 February.
First prize winner Teddy explains how Skin became more a diary than an art project:
In the process of leaving my family home, I became my childhood self again; tethered to an old name, an old routine, old clothes. It's put together from work I made at my parent's house, when I was a child, in hospital, and in the weeks once I managed to get to Cambridge; hiding away in the Art Rooms like some spectre from the other side.
Skin is the story I couldn't say out loud, put onto the body in a way less reviled than scars. It's the excuses I make for myself; I am a fish who forgot how to migrate. I am an ill-behaved child. I am possessed by something uncategorised. I can be donned and shed as fast as fashion. And so on.
Skin is a mixture of painting, embroidery, hospital bands, baby clothes, love letters and goodbye notes, crammed onto an old denim jacket I used to wear every day. I tell my story on the patches, abstracted into images and rearrangeable. But only if you're willing to get a little too close, to pull parts of me off and examine them without boundaries. To tell my story, I have to give you some of me. To hear it, you put your hands on me and risk breaking something. To share it, I have to take it off my body and let it become a story which slips from my grasp and begins to belong to you.
Being able to escape to the Art Rooms is invaluable - be it from an essay or a messy room - and escaping to rather than escaping from is a reminder, a way to connect, and a chance to build skills all at once.
The 18 submissions to this year’s Rylands Art Prize reflected the breadth, depth and talent in the King’s community: from textiles and jewellery to photography, video and paintings; from personal journeys to philosophical questions to political or humanitarian issues. The judges of this year’s competition were Provost Michael Proctor and his wife Julia, as well as King’s Art Coordinator Nigel Meager. The Art Prize is an annual College competition in memory of Dr G.H.W Rylands (known as Dadie Rylands), a former Fellow of the College, where King’s students and staff can enter works of visual art in any medium.