14 November 2022

Robert Walters Group UK New Artist of the Year Award 2022 winners announced

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On Thursday 10 November Habib Hajallie was named as the winner of the Robert Walters Group UK New Artist of the Year Award, at an awards ceremony held at the prestigious Saatchi Gallery.

From 1,400 entries Habib was the recipient of the £10,000 cash prize presented by global recruitment consultancy Robert Walters Group for his work 'Questions of our Day.' 

Habib, based in the South East, impressed the judges with his intricately detailed figures realised on the pages of antique Sierra Leonean texts for his winning piece. 

Habib’s practice is informed by his Sierra Leonean and Lebanese heritage, using the representation of figures that have been left out of traditional British portraiture he works to investigate how identity can be reconstructed by historical oppression.

The winning piece of work will be on display at the Robert Walters Group head office in Covent Garden for 12 months. People can also visit the digital gallery showcasing the 10 the shortlisted finalist's works along with an online voting poll where you can vote for your favourite artist to win the Public Choice Award 2022.

Votes for the Public Choice Award will close on the 10 January, with the winner announced on Thursday 12 January, 2023.

Habib Hajallie, winner of the 2022 Robert Walters Group UK New Artist of the Year Award, commented:

“As a young artist from an ethnically diverse background, being recognised for an art prize that is intended to showcase the work of new British art being made today, is something that I hope will resonate with people from similar backgrounds as myself. For too long the work of Black British artists went unseen or underappreciated, I have to thank the generations of immensely driven and talented Black British artists that paved the way to allow people such as myself opportunities for greater visibility to challenge archaic and oppressive notions of what it means to British.

“This award in particular is truly special. Having the opportunity to exhibit at the world-renowned Saatchi Gallery is a dream come true for any artist, at any stage of their career; also having the chance to win a £10,000 prize offers a unique opportunity to both gain practical exposure and crucial financial support. I can only thank Robert Walters Group, Saatchi Gallery and UKNA for their work in tandem to provide such an important showcase for emerging artists.”

Tyreis Holder, based in London, was recipient of the £5,000 second prize for her work titled ‘Dun Dunnah,’  a response to the explosion of media attention on the Black Lives Matter movement, looking forward to an unimagined future, of what it truly looks like the healing of generational trauma takes place through textiles and poetry.

Tyreis Holder, winner of second prize at the 2022 Robert Walters Group UK New Artist of the Year Award, commented:

“Winning the award symbolises a milestone for me – a formal recognition of all the blood, sweat and literal tears I put in to my craft. However, most importantly, I didn’t win runner-up by myself – I won it with, and for my community. I won it with my mum, my nan, my great-nan, and all those who followed before me, passing down this language of textiles. Winning this award solidifies the importance of generational connection, knowledge and skill-sharing – but also love. For that, I am blessed and highly favoured.

“The £5,000 will greatly impact my career in the arts by allowing me to buy new equipment and materials to experiment with my creative practise and fund my next body of work - providing me a healthy foundation to delve further into the art world and share my work on a larger scale. It will also give me the means to take some time-off to immerse myself in the beauty of art making, reconnecting with my love for arts, textiles and poetry.

“I would also like to thank the UK New Artists and Robert Walters for selecting me as runner-up for this award and to extend a massive congratulations to Habib. I would like to thank Somerset House Studios for commissioning the work and the ongoing support from the artists’ studio and to all my previous tutors and mentors. As well as a huge thanks to my friends and family – especially my dad– for the unbridled support of me and my career. Lastly, my mother and grandmother who I carry with me, always in my spirits.”

The awards set out each year to discover and champion exceptional artists who are representative of contemporary Britain, and is bought together by three leading organisations – global recruitment consultancy Robert Walters Group, arts charity UK New Artists, and renowned contemporary art platform Saatchi Gallery - to help provide a career springboard for emerging artists.

The awards ceremony took place on Thursday 10 November at the Saatchi Gallery, and was curated by Garth Gratrix, an internationally exhibiting artist, Clore visual arts fellow, curator and studio director based in the North West of England. Judges included Robert Walters – art enthusiast, collector and CEO of Robert Walters Group; Paul Foster – Director of Saatchi Gallery; Michelle Bowen - Director of UK New Artists; Lisa Gee – longstanding Director of the Harley Foundation Charitable Trust; Saad Eddine Said – internationally-acclaimed curator and Artistic Director and CEO of New Art Exchange; Won Hee Nam - CEO of Art Lab N3 and Gallery N&K based in Seoul, South Korea; and Anne von Freyburg - artist and winner of the 2021 UK New Artist of the Year award.

Robert Walters, CEO of Robert Walters Group comments: 

“We were so pleased to see the positive reception to the shortlisted work on display last night – and to see so many returning supporters to the evening celebrations.

“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 young 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, UKNA adds:

“The shortlist for the first 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 Habib Hajallie on winning the award and look forward to working with him over the coming year.

“We also wish continued success to our runner up Tyreis Holder. Collaborating with 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 click here.

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For media enquiries contact: 

Rum Gill
PR Manager
Robert Walters
E: ruman.gill@robertwalters.com