Ten from the New Light Prize: Artists from the North at The Mercer Art Gallery

| 07 March 2016

As the New Light Prize moves to the Mercer Art Gallery we take a look at some of the selected artworks by artists from the North of England

The New Light Prize is a testament to the work of New Light charity, which champions the work of those who do not have the advantage of living near London.

The artists chosen for the exhibition hail from across the North, representing the counties of Co Durham, Cumbria, Lancashire, Teesside, Tyne & Wear and Yorkshire. Other exhibitors (who were either born or studied in the North) have made the short-list from as far afield as Cornwall, East Anglia, Ireland, Glasgow and Carmarthenshire.


Andrew Thursfield, Make Something Good


a painting showing samples of different tree barks
Andrew Thursfield, Make Something Good, Acrylics, watercolour, pencil© The artist
Make Something Good is a finely detailed watercolour and acrylic painting of branches and twigs which take the form of large barcode. The title comes from a song by Laura Veirs which refers to "the sunlight trapped within the wood…"  Like much of Andrew’s work, it stems from a love of nature, music, and an ambivalence to technology.


Anja Percival, Sun Light V


a painting of a sepia toned room with sunlight filtering in through net curtains
Anja Percival, Sun Light V, Etching, wax resist on copper© the artist
“I’m fascinated by the different atmospheres that light creates in our environment”, explains Anja. “My compositions aim to combine different moods of light, with contrasting space and surface qualities.

"In 2009 I relocated back to the North East and now predominantly work from my studio in Fowlers Yard, Durham. The work here is inspired by a location close to home: the corner was suddenly brought to life by fleeting infiltrating light that grabbed my attention.”


Chris Rigby, A Barrow Legend


a drawn and painted image of the backs of tenement flats
Chris Rigby, A Barrow Legend, Ink and gouache© The artist
These paintings resulted out of initial explorations into the industrial heritage of the famed Cumbrian shipbuilding town of Barrow. The tenement blocks present a grand, red-brick facade to the outside world, evocative of impressive Scottish architecture. The atmosphere within, is one of detached calm.  

Chris writes:”Crouched on a collapsed wall, sketching the regimental, high-rise procession of the tenements, a resident approached me, and registering what I’m doing, he looks up at the looming tenements and declares, ‘A Barrow Legend’.


Genevieve Pennington, Lets Dice


A composite portrait of David Bowie made out of playing dice
Genevieve Pennington, Lets Dice, Playing dice© The artist
“I started an artwork which required me to drill several thousand little holes into a black piece of board to make a portrait, and then adding a back light so it shone through the holes to reveal the portrait," explains Genevieve. 

"There happened to be a few dice next to me whilst drilling one day and I had one of those 'light bulb' moments and realised that with some tweaking I could use dice to create a similar effect (with the bonus of saving my arms from all that drilling.)”


James Naughton, Cavern


an oil painting of a cavern with blue water pool and light coming in from an opening in the ceiling
James Naughton, Cavern, Oil © The artist
Winner of ‘Visitors’ Choice Award’ at the Bowes Museum, where the New Light Prize Exhibition opened.

"I took the opportunity to work on an idea that had been in the back of my mind for a while and produce work which is quite different to the Landscape work I have established over a long period," says James. "Using the theme of the opening to a cave I was faced with a substantial artistic challenge.

"I hoped that the final image would evoke an emotional response to the powerful qualities of such spaces, touching on a real physical reality as well as a connection to the spiritual and mythical attachments of the cave deep in our imagination."


Lotty Alexander, Red Deer 10' Point Chatsworth Estate


a photo of a deer skull with antlers in which the skull is silver covered
Lotty Alexander, Red Deer 10' Point Chatsworth Estate, Sculpture© The artist
“Working with the National Trust Heritage deer parks such as Chatsworth House, Richmond, Tatton Park etc around the UK and Scotland I recycle these magnificent creatures after they have been culled, a process vital in preserving the healthy equilibrium of the groups.

Each piece is totally unique hence using their names appointed to them. All are then lovingly prepared with each individual stone applied by hand with over 5,500 Swarovski Crystals creating a totally unique, stunning pieces of art.”


Mandy Payne, Broken Brutalism


a painting of high rise blocks of flats seen from a balcony
Mandy Payne, Broken Brutalism, Aerosol spray paint and oil paint on concrete© The artist
Winner of £10,000 Valeria Sykes Award, the top New Light prize, Mandy Payne's recent work explores Park Hill in Sheffield, the Grade II* listed council estate and one of Britain’s largest examples of Brutalist architecture.

"My intentions were to explore the themes of memory and place and hope and loss," says Mandy. "The site is currently undergoing regeneration which makes it an interesting site to observe. Part has been transformed into luxury flats, whilst part remains boarded up and derelict.  

"I have been working with materials integral to the estate itself namely aerosol paints (with reference to the graffiti) and concrete which I have cast as a concrete canvas to paint on directly.”


Moira McTague, Fortune Teller, Paths Retraced


a print made up of a montage of letters and portraits around a central photograph of a cottage
Moira McTague, Fortune Teller, Paths Retraced, Plate litho, chine colle, gold leaf© The artist
Gathering information, drawing, mapping, researching census information, school records, family letters and working with new methods of photo plate lithography, Moira has used multiple plates to reflect the layers of findings, whilst exploring ways of collating the information and emotional responses in pictorial form. This work is from an on going series based on Southern Ireland.

“As a printmaker, the physical processes of working on the plates, the infinite possibilities of methods and the beautiful qualities of line and tone that can be achieved become as important to the artist as her subject matter," says Moira.

"Printmaking is a wonderful way of solving creative problems and exploring ideas which often develop and change due to the nature of the printmaking process”.


Peter Quinn, Mercer Street, Soho, New York


a painting of a series of apartments and fire escapes in New York
Peter Quinn, Mercer Street, Soho, New York, Watercolour© The artist
“My New York paintings began with a series of walks around the streets of New York," says Peter. "I became fascinated by the scale of the buildings, the spindle-like fire-escapes, the variety of signs and the quality of light. In summer the city can appear surprisingly green, facades glowing and bright.”


Tony Noble, Girl at the Window


a painting of a three story block of 1970s flats with a women at one of the windows
Tony Noble, Girl at the Window, Oil on panel© The artist
This painting is part of an on-going series of works looking at aspects of the local environment close to Tony Noble's studio in Batley, West Yorkshire.

"The flats in "Girl at the window" are less than 100m from the door to my studio," explains Tony. "As with most of the paintings in the series, the locations are all places I pass on the way to the studio every day. In most of them I do not include figures, but in this painting I felt that a figure would add interest by helping to create something of an open narrative.

"The figure was invented - she does not live there! Initially I was just interested in the architecture of the flats, combined with the trees in front of them and the texture of the road in front. I hope the mood in the painting evokes something of the experience of being in that place."

  • The New Light Prize exhibition is at The Mercer Gallery in Harrogate until June 12 2016.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.


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