Creating a fairer Britain
02 July 2009
Ten winners of the 2009 Young Brits at Art Competition, run by the Commission, were announced today (2 July) at an awards ceremony at London's South Bank Centre.
The competition, which attracted 1,639 entries, invited young people to express their thoughts on growing up in Britain, with entrants producing powerful visual artworks challenging the negative stereotypes of today’s youth.
Ranging in diverse topics from the elderly and domestic violence, to the weather and contemporary culture – the underlying messages behind the artwork expressed an appreciation of growing-up in a privileged society where choices and freedom abound.
Alison Lapper, artist and one of the 2009 YBA judges commented:
'The winners produced works of extremely high standard and challenged the prevalent notions of today’s youth not being a particularly engaged, compassionate, thoughtful or articulate generation.'
The artwork also makes it apparent that young people define themselves according to their individuality and personal choices in contemporary culture, such as music and brands, rather than according to their ethnicity or faith. Today’s youth are also largely unanimous in saying they feel labelled and stereotyped by society.
The top three finalists were 11 year-old Georgia Marshall Evangelou, 17 year-old Stephanie Winn - both from London - and 17 year-old Fungai Mutezo from Scotland.
An oil-based self portrait of Georgia, the youngest of this year’s winners, shows her floating in the bath, illustrating her peacefulness while expressing how privileged she feels that she is to be able to do this when some people in other countries do not have the water nor the time to relax. Georgia wrote that 'here in Britain we are fortunate enough to have the facilities, water and leisure.' Georgia attends St. Paul’s Primary School in Wynchmore Hill, London.
Stephanie, a final year student at Gumley House Convent School in Hounslow, painted a portrait of her 80 year-old grandmother. Influenced by artists such as David Hockney and Lucien Freud, she used realism to capture the very essence and gracefulness of her grandmother. Stephanie’s aim in drawing her elderly relative was 'for the viewer to look beyond the physical appearance in the sense that the body has aged and deteriorated and to become aware of the person and their spirit.' She wanted to show that there is 'much life in her still' and to breakdown stereotypes that exist about how young people regard the aged. Stephanie has already been offered a place at the Camberwell School of Art when she finishes school.
Fungai’s self portrait shows him in contemplative mood, 'taking time out from my busy schedule to reflect the direction that my life is heading' and 'what I will be able to put back into society.' The judges were impressed by the quality of his painting and how he transferred his personality on to the page. Originally from Zimbabwe, Fungai moved to Scotland five years ago but visits his birth place every year because he “misses his family, friend and the weather.” He is a pupil at Calverdale High in Airdrie, Scotland.
The remaining seven finalists to reach the top ten are Michael Kashora, from Lea Manor School, Luton; Jessica Clark from Glenifer High in Paisley, Scotland; Emily Daniel from Ynysawdre Comprehensive School, Bridgend, Wales; Millie Wilkinson from Suffolk; Juliette Ndi from Harrow College and Dwayne Bodkin and Samuel Johnston from Hinwick Hall school in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire. Juliette, who has Down’s Syndrome and is both visually and hearing impaired, was chosen for her colourful self-portrait which the judges agreed was as feel-good as it was inspirational. Both Dwayne and Samuel have special educational needs and were also singled out for their infectious enthusiasm for life which the judges felt came across in their work. All seven finalists receive a framed copy of their art work.
The competition was promoted to all schools and youth groups and all levels of ability. It was designed to support cross-curricular work across a range of subjects and was complemented by teachers’ materials and lesson plans. The aim was to find the most creative, thought-provoking and engaging art work from youngsters aged 11 to 19 years, from across England, Scotland and Wales.
At an award ceremony, hosted by E4 Music presenter Sarah-Jane Crawford and introduced by the Chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, Trevor Phillips, each of the winners received framed copies of their award-winning art work and a luxury wooden chest filled with art materials.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission’s next youth project will be the Our Space summer camp in the Lake District from 9 to 13 August for youngsters aged between 14 and 15 who have a passion for outdoor adventure and for learning about and meeting new people from all backgrounds and all walks of life.
For full details and an application form which must be submitted by 8 July, please log on to www.equalityhumanrights.com/ourspace
For media enquiries please contact Rachel Furst PR; 07957 457668/0161 903 8082 / firstname.lastname@example.org
The Equality and Human Rights Commission is a statutory body established under the Equality Act 2006, which took over the responsibilities of Commission for Racial Equality, Disability Rights Commission and Equal Opportunities Commission.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission is the independent advocate for equality and human rights in Britain. It aims to reduce inequality, eliminate discrimination, strengthen good relations between people, and promote and protect human rights.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission will enforce equality legislation on age, disability, gender, race, religion or belief, sexual orientation or transgender status, and encourage compliance with the Human Rights Act. It will also give advice and guidance to businesses, the voluntary and public sectors, and to individuals.