5 November 2021

Robert Walters Group UK New Artist of the Year Award Winner Announced

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Artist Anne von Freyburg was named winner of the 2021 Robert Walters Group UK New Artist of the Year Award, at our awards ceremony at the prestigious Saatchi Gallery in London on Thursday 4 November in collaboration with UK New Artists.

Anne was the recipient the £10,000 first-place cash prize, after being selected ahead of nine other shortlisted artists for work submitted within the brief of ‘Where do we go from here? Is there to be a new normal?

Dutch artist Anne – now based in London – impressed the judges with the use of quality materials, technique and commitment to the process for her winning piece ‘Feminizing The Canvas.’

Anne presented a series of reconstructed Rococo portraits made out of a mixture of tapestry and contemporary fashion fabrics.

The imagery focused on a stylised idea around feminine beauty as found in the tradition of Boucher and Fragonard. Her works raised questions about taste, femininity, high and low art and the constructs of female identity.

The portraits were created with acrylic ink and then translated into hand-stitched fabrics and sewing techniques that give the work an almost bodily presence. Whilst on the one hand playful and referencing the decorative quality of their sources, the over-indulgence in these works also points to the excesses of throwaway fashion, selfies, and consumerism.

The winning piece of work will be on display at the Robert Walters Group head office in Covent Garden for 12 months.

Anne von Freyburg, winner of the Robert Walters Group UK New Artist of the Year Award, commented:

"Historically, craft have been perceived as lesser than the ‘intellectual’ fine arts. By combining them, I am challenging this underlying hierarchical system.

“Winning the UK New Artist of the Year Award is a huge recognition for my work as well valuing textiles and craft in contemporary art today."

Runner-up on the evening Catriona Robertson was awarded a cash prize of £5,000 to go towards the development of her future career in the industry.

Scottish artist Catriona, now living in London, impressed the judges with her use of raw materials in her installation – ‘Burrow Sprout Grow’ – which explores the architecture and the hidden spaces interwoven above and below ground within the fast-changing rising concrete landscape and urban geology.

Catriona Robertson, second-prize winner of the Robert Walters Group UK New Artist of the Year Award, commented:

“Being selected in the Top 10 and as a runner-up is just incredible! Sustaining a sculptural practice is incredibly difficult financially, physically, and mentally as it feels much harder to sell work or to show it in different spaces.

“Having this support platform has given me the much-needed encouragement to keep making and the opportunity be able to share my work with a wider audience after my graduation.”

The award sets out to discover and champion exceptional emerging artists who are representative of contemporary Britain. The award is a collaboration between the Robert Walters Group, leading arts charity UK New Artists, and renowned contemporary art platform Saatchi Gallery, and is designed to help provide a career springboard for emerging artists.

2021 judges included Michael Forbes - artist and chair of Primary; Conor Rogers - artist and winner of the 2019 award; Cindy Sissokho - Curator at New Art Exchange and Associate Curator of Casablanca Biennale; Michelle Bowen - Director of UK New Artists; and Paul Foster – Interim Gallery Director of Saatchi Gallery.

The awards ceremony took place on Thursday 4 November at Saatchi Gallery, and was curated by Garth Gratrix, internationally exhibiting artist, curator and studio director based in the North West of England. Gratrix's work often showcases cross-disciplinary practices in diverse and unique settings. The exhibition runs until 7 November 2021 at Saatchi Gallery, after which a virtual gallery will be open where members the public have a chance to vote for their favourite piece.

Over 900 artists submitted work. The 2021 finalists were: Jukka Virkkunen (London), Molly Kent (Edinburgh), Lucy Gregory (London), Aimee Melaugh (Derry), Sam Tahmassebi (London), Wesley George (London), Jarvis Brookfield (Leicester), Anne von Freyburg (London), Maayan Sophia Weisstub (London), and Catriona Robertson (London).

Robert Walters, CEO of the Robert Walters Group commented: 

“We were so pleased to see the positive reception to the works by the shortlisted artists. Providing opportunities for ambitious professionals to achieve their potential is the foundation of our business and as an organisation it was a privilege to be able to provide such a platform for emerging artists in the UK. We are looking forward to the return of the Robert Walters Group UK New Artist of the Year Award next year.”

Michelle Bowen, Director, UKYA adds:

“The shortlist for the Robert Walters Group UK New Artist of the Year Award has been exceptional and UKNA thanks all ten finalists for their outstanding contributions. We would like to congratulate Anne von Freyburg on winning the award and look forward to working with her over the coming year. We also wish continued success to our runner up Catriona Robertson. Collaborating with the Robert Walters Group and Saatchi Gallery on yet another successful awards continues to help us on our mission of reaching new audiences and supporting more new and emerging artists.”

For more information about the Robert Walters Group UK New Artist of the Year Award visit www.robertwaltersgroup.com/ukna

Image credits: Reece Straw www.reecestraw.co.uk

For further information, please contact:

Rum Gill
Senior PR Officer
Robert Walters
E: rumandeep.gill@robertwalters.com
T: 020 7509 8178