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Sunny Bank Mills nurtures award-winning artistic talent

Three talented young Yorkshire artists have won prestigious prizes at one of the county’s most respected annual exhibitions.

Sophie Jones, Kedisha Coakley and Sam Henty were the major winners at the Ones to Watch 2022 exhibition at the Sunny Bank Mills Art Gallery in Farsley.

This was the ninth year that the gallery had hosted its renowned Ones To Watch exhibition and Arts Director and curator Jane Kay believes this was one of the best yet.

Kedisha and Sam were the joint winners of the Judges’ prize, while Sophie won the Visitor’s prize, voted for by those who came to the exhibition.

Kedisha and Sam win a cash prize, together with studio space at Sunny Bank Mills and a residency, while Sophie wins a cash prize and a residency.

The annual exhibition is for artists who either study in, or are from, Yorkshire and are up to a year post-graduation. There were 33 artists involved this year, selected from well over 100 applications, and the standard was very high. 

The exhibition features a number of different disciplines and media, including painting, sculpture, film, photography, installation, ceramics, textiles and design.

Curator Jane Kay said:

“Kedisha, Sam and Sophie were worthy winners in a very strong field this year. Their superb work is an excellent example not just of their talent and their artistic imagination, but also of the breadth of the art and talent this year. We are very proud to be giving all these emerging artists and makers a public platform.”

Kedisha Coakley’s Afro-comb series explored personal childhood memories, ritualistic practices and what they signify in today’s world, investigating re-appropriation, excavation of identity, materiality and Black experiences.

Kedisha commented: “It’s really rewarding when your work resonates with others and I hope those who visited the exhibition were challenged by the various art on show.”

Textile artist Sophie Jones, a single mother who is studying at university, created a powerful work, detailing the challenges, the mundanity and the stresses of parenthood. Using intricate red cotton thread, Sophie has composed an unpunctuated James Joyce-style account of her daily struggle to be the perfect, caring parent.

She explained: “Winning the Visitor’s Choice Prize has been incredibly rewarding in allowing me to fund more ambitious and exciting work. I am thrilled to undertake the residency at Sunny Bank Mills, as working in a textile mill will be very influential in advancing my practice as a textile artist. 

“I have already planned a new body of work to undertake in the residency, and I am excited to see where the work takes my practice! Working currently with archival modes of display, having a residency where there is access to a textile archive will bring new possibilities to research further into my chosen methods of installation.”

Sam Henty created a fascinating reworking of the Bayeaux Tapestry, called the Eborakon Ofrior Tapestry, chronicling the rise, decline and fall of the fictional Harken family, Yorkshire nobleman in the 15th and 16thcenturies. The 22-panel tapestry also includes astonishing 14th century doodles by monks, some of which are x-rated!

Sam said: “I’m very proud of this win, being a part of the Ones To Watch 2022 has been a fantastic experience, especially as it supports emerging artists in Yorkshire. Winning the judges’ prize has been brilliant to get this kind of recognition for an artwork that has been three years in the making.”

Studio residencies have also been offered to Lex Karpathios, Kristina Nenova and Katie Kaur Padda.

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