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Emerging Artist Prize: In Conversation with Katie Kennedy Perez

07/05/2021

The Emerging Artist Prize was produced in collaboration with international art consultant, Katie Kennedy Perez.

How has the prize evolved in your opinion since the first edition in 2019?

When I first began to put together the prize, I had to introduce the concept to curators and directors of arts institutions across the UK.
Happily they were convinced by the pertinence of the prize and kindly came on board to support. Whereas the second edition was much easier to put together as the jury, nominators and artists were all impressed by the quality and diversity of the artists nominated in the previous edition - notably the winner, Evan Ifekoya.

What is the significance of the KHEAP in the context of the global pandemic?

The fact that Kleinwort Hambros decided to maintain the prize in the face of a very challenging global context demonstrates the sincerity of their long term engagement to the initiative. After discussion with the nominators and jury, I very quickly proposed to them a revised model - with three winners, instead of one - in order to further spread the financial support to artists at this difficult time. Kleinwort Hambros immediately got behind this idea.

Beyond the winners, how is the KHEAP prize different this year?

In response to the pandemic, instead of a gala event, the prize was immediately moved onto digital platforms. This was a very positive move as it allows a wider audience to discover all the participants. Of course the focus is placed firmly on the artists, but the KHEAP also seeks to place a spotlight on art spaces and institutions across the UK - with curators such as Eoin Dara from Dundee Contemporary Arts, Angelica Sule from the Site Gallery in Leeds and Robert Leckie from Spike Island in Bristol. The UK has a very rich fabric of arts venues outside London and forefronting this network is part of the prize's DNA.

What do you think of the selection of artists from this second edition?

I was bowled over by the depth and originality of the artistic practises showcased by the prize this year. The prize brings together a 'snapshot' of a generation of emerging artists at a key point in their careers. Many of them know each other, some have exhibited or even studied together. They are at a critical point in their careers which myself and KH look forward to following as their practise develops and gains exposure.

What are your thoughts on the winners of this year's edition?

Despite the fact that the winners represent a diverse range of practises, from video to performance, installation to painting, their common denominator is a unique form of expression characterised by a universality of discourse that goes beyond the individual.