Having joined us as a judge for the Norval Sovereign African Art Prize and Sovereign Portuguese Art Prize, how do you feel the growing portfolio of Prizes compare?
The obvious answer is that both Africa and Asia are vast continents, Portugal is a relatively small country – but it once had a large empire; this latter point was expressed in some of the submissions. The works submitted for the first iteration of the Portuguese prize were surprisingly good but their frame of reference cannot really be compared with the other two prizes.
The first submissions for the African Arts Prize also resulted in thirty strong finalists and a good winner. As it originated in South Africa many artists from there submitted work and made the final. As the network of nominators expands more widely across the continent for the second prize any imbalance in the initial intake of nominations will be rectified so that the whole continent is better represented.
When reviewing the entries this year, was there anything specific you were looking for? Were you drawn to any particular themes or media?
As always, I am looking for good, non-flashy work powered by a sense of honesty and necessity.
What are your thoughts on this year’s shortlist?
I like it. There are a large number of artists who are new to me from a wide range of different countries. In some these works I can sense a feeling of urgency that, at times, approaches horror.
What advice would you give to artists considering entering The Prize, or perhaps missed out on the shortlist this year?
Work hard. Be curious, sceptical and (self-)critical. Enjoy yourself, even when you get stuck in the mud.