ARTiculation Ambassador reviews The Barber (West Midlands Regional Final)

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ARTicle by Simran Dhond, ARTiculation Ambassador (DeMontfort University)

On the 29 January the camera was set up, pamphlets distributed, and tours were being presented through the exquisite galleries of the Barber Institute, while six contestants sat quietly running through their presentations. It was the ARTiculation Prize West Midlands Regional Final. All six talented individuals were about to deliver exceptionally insightful and informative speeches on their chosen pieces of art.

Tyler Whiting began by speaking about Tim Mara’s ‘Picnic Series’ (1973), exploring its composition, perspective and her link to the series as a photographer. Talking about hidden secrets in the paintings, she aptly said, it’s a ‘hunt for treasures within’ and the continuity between pieces was a ‘Snapshot of his time and experience.’

Our next speaker, Abbie Phelps spoke about ‘American Progress’ by John Gast (1872). She studied the artwork with precision, stating that ‘art is a by product of history.’ Phelps spoke about the western portrayal of progress and its effects on the Native Americans, delving deep into the details and uncovering its hidden meaning.

Eszter Horvath spoke about Katsushika Hokusai’s ’36 Views of Mt Fuji’ (1830-32), which was a personal experience for her. Horvath took us on a tour through Japan, talking about the paintings she observed. She compared Japanese artwork to its European counterpart.

After a quick interval, Maiya James threw light upon Diego Velazquez’s ‘Las Meninas’ (1656) with an interesting take on the different scenarios taking place in the painting. Through its carefully considered composition and its link to the other works of art, Maiya showed us the relation and importance of each detail with respect to the artist’s lifestyle.

Caroline Hu’s encounter with Yoshimoto Nara’s ‘Daydreamer ‘ (2003) was a painting that she closely links to her childhood and to growing up. Describing the girl in the painting as a cute and appealing, but also angry, figure. Hu spoke about the juxtaposition of the feelings of children alongside the inner darkness within each person.

Talking about the divine, Aman Qamar’s keen observation in ‘The Image of God’ described the universal representation of the holy figure. She compared different portrayals of the same topic in different cultures in a clever and insightful manner. Breaking stereotypical barriers and the lack of representation of God in Islamic culture were a few of the highlights of her speech.

Almost too soon, we had come to the end of a scintillating chapter of the ARTiculation Prize. Dealt with the arduous task of selecting the winners, adjudicator Sarah Gregory provided the contestants with valuable feedback and awarded Tyler Whiting the day’s top spot, followed by Maiya James who secured the runner up position. Tyler will now go on to present at the ARTiculation Prize Grand Final 2020 hosted by Clare College, Cambridge.

ARTiculation provides a platform to young new voices and gets young people to ask questions about art through the ethos of LOOKing, THINKing, and SPEAKing. It is a rare opportunity and progressive step towards arts education. Each contestant left the hall with a smile on their face and empowered confidence in public speaking – all were winners!

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