Meet the judges

Below are this year's judging panel for the Robert Walters Group UK New Artist of the Year Award.

Entries were assessed by our judging panel according to the criteria laid out in the brief to artists. Together, they looked for artists who​ show significant potential, an original voice and exceptional artistic talent.

Robert Walters
Founder, Robert Walters Group | London, UK

Robert Walters is the founder of Robert Walters Group, a global specialist recruitment group spanning 31 countries. As a passionate supporter of the arts, Robert Walters is a tenured supporter and patron of prestigious arts organisations including the V&A and Saatchi Gallery. He has also personally invested in seed capital projects ranging from a stage musical to an award-winning short film.

Alex Zawadzki
Founder, The Second Act Gallery | Manchester, UK

Alex Zawadzki is the founder of The Second Act gallery, a contemporary gallery in the North of England. The Second Act was born out of a frustration in the lack of opportunities for Northern and working class artists, and for artists living outside major cities. The gallery is committed to placing these artists on national and international platforms, and nurturing artists into sustainable career paths. 

Alex is also one half of artist-curator duo ‘Uncultured Creatives’ working in partnership with artist Jamie Holman, to deliver complex commissions that draw from the unique and idiosyncratic cultural factors that make us who we are.

Habib Hajallie
Artist | London, UK
Winner of the 2022 Robert Walters Group UK New Artist of the Year Award

Habib Hajallie (b.1995) is an elected member of The Royal Society of British Artists, the winner of The UK New Artist of The Year Award 2022 and was an honouree on Forbe's prestigious 30 Under 30 list 2023 . He looks to empower often marginalised minorities through the exploration of identity within his ballpoint pen portraiture. Confronting socio-political issues within his drawings acts as a catalyst for a discourse regarding the perception of various demographics as being of lesser humanistic value. Specifically, with the disenfranchised often being undermined by mainstream media; somewhat paradoxically reflecting an archaic hierarchy of status, similar to colonial ideologies.

Though born in Southeast London, Hajallie's works are Informed by his Sierra Leonean and Lebanese heritage. He is conscious of representing figures that have historically been conspicuously omitted from traditional British portraiture. Calling upon anecdotal references to portray scenes that are occasionally quasi-surrealist representations, the drawings look to confront lingering ethnocentrisms that are still embedded within modern western society. 

Harold Offeh
Artist, Educator & Learner | Cambridge, UK

Harold Offeh is an artist working in a range of media including performance, video, photography, learning and social arts practice. Offeh is interested in the space created by

the inhabiting or embodying of histories. He employs humour as a means to confront the viewer with historical narratives and contemporary culture. He has exhibited widely in the UK and internationally including: Tate Britain and Tate Modern; South London Gallery; Turf Projects, London; Kettle's Yard, Cambridge; Wysing Art Centre; Studio Museum Harlem, New York; MAC VAL, France; Kunsthal Charlottenborg, Denmark; and Art Tower Mito, Japan.

He studied Critical Fine Art Practice at The University of Brighton, MA Fine Art Photography at the Royal College of Art and in 2020 completed a PhD by practice exploring the activation of Black Album covers through durational performance at Leeds Beckett University. He lives in Cambridge and is currently a Senior Tutor in Fine Art MFA at The Ruskin School of Art, Oxford University and a Tutor in Contemporary Art Practice at the Royal College of Art, London.

Inger Margrethe Stoveland
Director, Fluks - Centre for Young Art | Kristiansand, Norway

Inger Margrethe Stoveland is Director of Fluks - Centre for Young Art at the University of Agder, Norway. Fluks’ core projects are, Platform Nord, Nordic Noise and Cultiva Ekspress, all focused on young artist opportunities and activities, locally, nationally and in a Nordic setting. 

Inger has a broad art field experience spanning from the classical music festival Bergen International Festival, via the contemporary dance company Jo Strømgren Kompani to creating the Nordic cross-artistic festival Platform Nord and doing various international collaborations. She has a big heart for any cross artistic expressions. She is educated with a Master in Comparative Literature from Bergen, as well as a Post-graduate Diploma in Arts Administration from England.  

Michelle Bowen
Director, UK New Artists | Nottingham, UK

Michelle Bowen is a highly experienced cultural and creative sector leader with a career including senior positions in the strategic cultural agencies and funding system at both the Arts Council England and Craft Council. Leading and managing major organisational and programme development projects in the UK and internationally such as The Beginning in Seoul South Korea as well as a host of client services to both organisations and creative individuals. Thoroughly committed to artistic excellence and driving high quality practice particularly across the contemporary visual arts.

Paul Foster
Director, Saatchi Gallery | London, UK

As Gallery Director, Paul oversees the programming strategy for the Gallery and leads the organisation. Prior to joining Saatchi Gallery in 2012 Paul held a series of senior positions at a leading fine art publisher for 10 years and acted as an independent consultant for contemporary art institutions.