Sofia Laskari, winner of the 2023 Robert Walters Group UK New Artist of the Year Award, commented:
“What an amazing event, that was delicately curated and supported by the most professional, sensitive and open-minded people. Winning an award of UKNA first of all, made me proud of myself and standing for my personal and honest brutality. I had a chance to exhibit amongst 10 great artists and be seen by a large group of art professionals and art lovers, and be able to finally connect with a lot of people on the level I wanted to.’’
I am thankful to the team of UKNA and to Robert Walters group for organising the event and having a moment to listen to me and look at my work. As well as thankfully to Garth Gratrix, who so carefully curated the show."
Kim Thompson, winner of second prize at the 2023 Robert Walters Group UK New Artist of the Year Award, commented:
“I'm absolutely thrilled and honoured to receive the runner up prize! Attending the Robert Walters Group UK New Artist of the Year Award ceremony as a guest two years ago was a huge motivating factor for me, inspiring, and fuelled my practice.
“To return to Saatchi this year as a selected finalist, to exhibit amongst such hugely talented fellow artists, and now to receive this prize feels very validating and a real privilege.
“The support of UKNA has been critical to my creative development as a new artist, and the Robert Walters Group award and event will make a huge difference to my practice moving forward. I'm grateful for the opportunity to share my work, connect with so many via my art, and for the access to more time, space, materials that the prize will allow for.
“My current work is an ongoing legacy project which aims to uplift, document and preserve marginalised narratives in a meaningful way. This work feels urgent and important - I'm so happy to be able to continue developing it and my practice having received this boost!"
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 and finalist exhibition at Saatchi Gallery was curated by Garth Gratrix - an international artist, curator, Clore Visual Arts Fellow, and studio director based in the northwest. Gratrix's work often showcases cross-disciplinary practices in diverse and unique settings.
The 10 artists’ works were judged by a panel including: Robert Walters – art enthusiast & Founder of Robert Walters Group; Michelle Bowen – Director of UK New Artists; Alex Zawadzki – Founder of the Second Act Gallery; Habib Hajallie – artist and winner of the 2022 UK New Artist of the Year awards; Harold Offeh – artist & educator; Paul Foster – Director of Saatchi Gallery; and Inger Margrethe Stoveland – Director of Fluks - Centre for Young Art.
Selected from over 1,600 artists, the 2023 finalists are: Damaris Athene (London), William Bacon (Oxford), Parham Ghalamdar (Manchester), Sofia Laskari (London), Kieran Leach (Manchester), Elena Njoabuzia Onwochei-Garcia (Glasgow/Macclesfield), Edward Rollitt (Winchester), Anna Tong (London), Pascal Ungerer (Cork, Ireland) and Kim Thompson (Nottingham).
Toby Fowlston, CEO of Robert Walters Group comments:
“Since its inception the Robert Walters Group UK New Artist of the Year Award has offered us the opportunity to provide a launch pad for the career of a talented emerging artist on an annual basis – as well as admire their incredible bodies of work. I want to extend my congratulations to all of the shortlisted artists, as well as our 2023 winner Sofia Laskari, we look forward to following your budding career in the world of art.”
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 Sofia Laskari on winning this prestigious award and our runner-up Kim Thompson. We are sure that both the awards will make a big difference to Sofia and Kim at an important stage of their career.
Collaborating with Robert Walters Group and Saatchi Gallery on yet another successful award continues to help us on our mission of reaching new audiences and supporting more new and emerging artists.”
Paul Foster, Director, Saatchi Gallery adds:
“We were proud to present such diverse and accomplished works by the ten short-listed artists in our spaces this year. The award show demonstrates that gifted artists are producing works of real power and relevance – none more so that the overall winner Sofia and runner-up winner Kim.”
For more information about the Robert Walters Group UK New Artist of the Year Award click here.
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