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Student wins Norfolk Contemporary Art Prize

A steel sculpture representing a student’s interpretation of the troubles in Ireland has won this year’s Norfolk Contemporary Art Society (NCAS) prize.

The society has a long tradition of supporting contemporary artists as they emerge each year from their studies at Norwich University of the Arts (NUA), awarding a prize worth £500 to a final year student for best work in the degree show.

The winner of this year’s prize is artist Rose Davies, a student on the BA Visual Studies course, for her sculpture Cruach (meaning ‘steel’ in gaelic). Rose’s work addresses the personal and political experiences of ‘The Troubles’ and includes themes such as trauma, conflict, religion and lack of freedom of speech.

NCAS prize winner

NCAS prize winner, Rose Davies with Keith Roberts, Chair of Norfolk Contemporary Art Society

Rose explained: “My practice explores three dimensional structures that express underlying fears arising from repressed experience. I employ materials that are dark, heavy and strong, communicating through their weight and colour a sense of threat and discomfort, challenging the viewer and evoking an emotional response.”

Prior to starting the BA Visual Studies course at NUA, Rose worked predominantly in textiles but through the course was able to push herself and experiment with new materials, taking full advantage of the workshops and resources available to students at the University.

She continued: “Through the support of the course team and the other students I have been able to develop new skills and make work I never would have dreamed of making before. I am delighted to win the NCAS prize as this piece of work is very personal to me and has allowed me to explore and learn more about my own heritage. For this to be recognised by the NCAS committee is extremely rewarding.”

Five students were shortlisted for the prize but members of the NCAS judging committee rapidly narrowed their original shortlist down from five to the eventual winner. Rose, who is now permanently based in Norfolk, was presented with her prize by Keith Roberts, outgoing Chair of NCAS at a special presentation held at NUA.

Keith Roberts commented: “We are delighted to continue our support of emerging artists from NUA. Our committee all agreed that Rose Davies was a worthy winner of this year’s NCAS prize. Both her sculptures, but in particular Cruach, made from steel, reflected in a calm and reflective manner on her experiences during the period of ‘The Troubles’ in Ireland and the rich and complex iconography that emerged there. In particular the committee appreciated the complex resonances of Cruach, a large curved steel piece that in one simple form managed to reference masks, visors, police shields, burkas and observation posts. Graduating from the Visual Studies degree course, Rose is our deserving winner.”

Professor John Last, Vice-Chancellor of NUA, also attending the presentation commented: “We are incredibly grateful to Keith and NCAS for their continued support, and this is one of many prizes awarded to students for their outstanding work in their degree show. We are also grateful to our other friends of NUA who have such a positive impact on the student experience by purchasing artworks, providing student scholarships and bursaries and offering jobs to our graduates based on their work in the show.”

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