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Bishop’s Art Prize selects film as winner for first time

A meditative piece of film responding to the artist’s work in therapeutic art sessions has been announced as the winner of this year’s Bishop’s Art Prize. The annual competition invites final year students at Norwich University of the Arts (NUA) to submit artworks in response to a specific theme set by the Bishop of Norwich. This year’s theme was ‘Darkness and Light’, with responses covering a range of disciplines and media including a traditional Japanese Gotenmari ball of yarn, a series of chiaroscuro illustrations depicting baptisms, and a 3D animated short film of two skeletal musicians meeting after being parted in life.

(L-R): NUA BA Fine Art Course Leader Carl Rowe; 2003

The judging panel with the winners (L-R): NUA BA Fine Art Course Leader Carl Rowe; 2003 Bishop’s Art Prize winner Susan Gunn; 2nd placed Richard Brooks; winner Alexandra Blythe; 3rd placed Rachel Wooller; The Rt Revd Graham Jones; Professor John Last, NUA Vice-Chancellor.

The winning piece of work, titled ‘Out of Darkness’, is described by the artist Alexandra Blythe as depicting “a moment’s tranquil enlightenment; the hypnotic movement of light and shade over water’s surface to provide a point of calm reflection and an insight into feelings evoked by any act of creation”. Alexandra, who is studying for an MA Fine Art degree at NUA, was awarded a first prize of £1,000.

Alexandra’s achievement marked the first time that a piece of media work has won the Bishop’s Art Prize, which is selected by a judging panel made up of the Rt Revd Graham James, NUA Vice-Chancellor Professor John Last, NUA Fine Art Course Leader Carl Rowe and 2003 Bishop’s Art Prize winner Susan Gunn.

Winner with her work

Bishop’s Art Prize 2013 winner Alexandra Blythe with her work ‘Out of Darkness’

Bishop Graham said: “I was immediately drawn into Alexandra’s film. The film and the music together gave me a sense of darkness and light responding to each other – it was the immediacy of the film that attracted me. It’s been fantastic to see an exhibition with such high standards. It is clear that the prize has established itself and I hope that it helps the students explore a range of spiritual experience and realise that the church is very keen to commission art in the modern age.”

Second place and a £500 prize were awarded to Richard Brooks for his media installation ‘Assimilation’ depicting the assimilation of malt chocolate powder and chocolate milk to represent the unique imprint of the image of God in every person. Rachel Wooller’s ‘The Impossible Number’, a pair of prints using numbers from the bible to question the balance of light and darkness in human nature, achieved third place and won £250.

Professor John Last, NUA Vice-Chancellor, added: “We are incredibly grateful to Bishop Graham for his support, as we are to the friends of NUA who have such a positive impact on the student experience by providing student scholarships and bursaries.”

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