Jerwood Drawing Prize 2013,
Hatton Gallery, Newcastle upon Tyne

Text by Zara Worth
Image by Fraser Marr

The 2013 Jerwood Drawing Prize showcases the work of 76 emerging contemporary artists, demonstrating the diversity of drawing in the UK, and its unceasing significance in artistic practices. Having already travelled from London to currently reside at The Hatton Gallery, it will continue its progress across the country, stopping off in Plymouth and Canterbury.

Svetlana Fialova, took the First Prize with her large scale ink drawing Apocalypse (My Boyfriend Doesn’t Care) (2013).  A perhaps surprising choice from the judges which depicts the artist’s boyfriend, mid-way through absent minded mastication, gum stretching from lip to fingers. Fialova’s graphic style has a dead-pan flatness to it, the central figure is surrounded by the detritus of daily life; the tumbling halo of objects includes ‘Crocs’ shoes, cats and horses, their forms making a deft nod to Dürer’s Apocalypse series.

The Jerwood Drawing Prize is the largest and longest running annual open exhibition and this year attracted over 3000 applicants. This year’s judges – Kate Brindley, Director of MIMA, Michael Craig-Martin RA, artist and Charlotte Mullins, art critic, writer, broadcaster and Editor of Art Quarterly – selected works in accordance with the Prize’s aims: to demonstrate the diversity, excellence and range of current drawing being produced by artists working in the UK. The eclectic mix of artistic approaches certainly evidences the variety and originality of art being produced right now, however there is a sense that some of the works have made the cut more for their unorthodox methods than their success as self-sufficient works.

The moving image works are the strongest ‘sub-category’ overall; with the taker of Second Prize, Marie von Heyl’s Interior (Utopia) (2013) and a special commendation for Neville Gabie’s Experiments in Black and White (2013) both representing strong approaches to drawing through film. Von Heyl is definitely one to watch, exploring and articulating the interior of her apartment, she negotiates the space using her body as medium. As her fingers move purposefully through the air, she traces invisible lines evoking objects in her proximity. These gestures are interspersed with more haptic interaction with her surroundings, so stark to her sensitive movements that these moments of contact can almost be felt by the viewer.

The far wall of the gallery hosts an intriguing and rewarding selection of smaller works. Slightly cluttered, sorting through them demands time of the spectator; thankfully there is little chaff. This petite assortment jumps about between the technically accomplished, the playful, the heavily conceptual and the plain old pretty. As with any group show there are both stronger and weaker works, and there are some genuinely rewarding visual finds.

Zara Worth is an artist and writer based in Newcastle upon Tyne