A gifted art student has won an international competition for a series of works she produced while studying at Sunderland College.
Natasha-Anne Aplin, aged 21, was presented with the Young Artist Award at the Derwent Art Prize 2014 ceremony, held last month in London.
Her winning artwork, ‘Devolution’, was created by Natasha-Anne as her final piece of work for her Foundation Degree in Applied Art at Sunderland College.
It is a series of graphite studies of a young child who is adorned with the traits of a mature man, including tattoos, body modifications, and scars, and is an observation of the social roles imposed on children.
The Derwent Art Prize 2014 attracted thousands of entries from across the world and is designed to showcase the best international works created in pencil.
Well-respected members of the art world including John Spero, art critic for Tatler; Kate Macfarlane, co-founder of the Drawing Room art gallery; and Professor Anita Taylor, dean of Bath School of Art and Design, formed the judging panel.
Natasha-Anne, who completed her college course in June, said: “I was extremely surprised to the win the award – when my name was announced it took a good few seconds to realise it was my name and go up and collect my prize.
“I had no expectation to win anything, mainly because the entries were of such a high standard. The work in the exhibition was incredible, from some stunning figurative work to beautiful more abstract pieces.”
The talented artist was awarded £500 and her piece of art, which she developed over the course of a year, was exhibited at the Mall Galleries in London which she described as an ‘incredibly proud’ moment.
She added: “I still feel an element of disbelief that those involved feel my work is at the same level as the highly-talented artists who were also shortlisted. To be amongst the winners of this competition is an incredible achievement for me and my work – it’s a situation I never expected or imagined I would be in.”
Natasha-Anne, from Cramlington in Northumberland, was encouraged to enter the competition by her Sunderland College tutor, Ian Holmes.
She said: “The tutors at the college I would consider as friends. All experienced artists themselves, they had the ability to point you in the direction of artists to study and recommend things to help push your ideas and your practice further. I will be forever grateful for the support I received at Sunderland College.”
Ian said: “I am delighted for Natasha and it’s fantastic to see her receive recognition in a prestigious award, especially considering the standards of the competition. She is a skilful and talented Foundation Degree Art student who enjoys working patiently on the development of her images employing her precise drawing technique.
“I thought Natasha’s individual style of drawing and the subject matter she was working on would do well in the competition. At one stage I thought Natasha wasn’t going to bother to enter, as she thought the competition was too great for her but it was certainly worth the effort. I hope this encourages her to enter further competitions in the future.”
Natasha-Anne is now studying a BA (Hons) Fine Art degree at Sunderland University and is also producing work on a commission basis for clients in the UK, Europe and the USA.