ARTicle by Neave Cunningham, ARTiculation Ambassador (Cardiff University)
The afternoon Heat of two South Central Regional Heats at the New Art Centre, Roche Court Sculpture Park could not have brought a more diverse range of artworks to the audiences’ collective attention. Our six speakers discussed everything from Greek statues to contemporary portraits, delving in and unravelling hidden meanings, historical context and personal reflection. Three students from this Heat would move on the South Central Regional Final at the Ashmolean on 9 March.
Jenna’s talk on Paula Rego’s ‘The Betrothal’ (1999) unpacked the busy and symbolic paintings for the audience. Jenna explained the deeper meanings behind the paintings in this series and explained the narratives and nuances of Rego’s work, which gave a whole new perspective on it. Jenna was able to help the audience see the painting through her eyes, which is the ultimate challenge of the ARTiculation Prize. This landed her a place in the South Central Regional Final at the Ashmolean.
Freya then spoke in depth about Justin Mortimer’s ‘Portrait of Harold Pinter’ (1992), telling us firstly about the life and career of the man in the picture and then unravelling the striking painting and its beautiful colours. Freya elucidated some of Pinter’s plays, which helped the audience better see the essence which the artist sought to capture in the portrait. Her words on the division of the canvas really showed the fantastic research and time she had put into her speech, which made her another winner of the afternoon Heat.
The final speaker was the wonderful Marianne, who spoke passionately and intensely about ‘The Wilton Diptych’ (1395-1399). Marianne captivated her audience by sharing her journey about discovering this piece in the National Gallery and talking about the diptych with clear excitement and enthusiasm. She informed the audience knowledgably about the fascinating historical context of the diptych – how it was commissioned by Richard II, the lavish, expensive pigments used in the piece, and how it remained in the King’s private collection until his death. Finally, Marianne showed us stunning images of the diptych by candlelight, the way it was originally intended to be viewed. Marianne was also named one of the day’s winner and will go through to the South Central Regional Final.
The adjudicator for the afternoon heat was Susanna Denniston, Chair of Trustees of the Salisbury Museum, who posed interesting questions to each of the speakers, probing more information out of them. Susanna had the near impossible challenge of choosing just three winners to go on to the South Central Regional Final.
All the speakers presented with extraordinary success and entertainment, and coupled with the lovely backdrop of the Design House at Roche Court, it was a captivating day. I cannot wait to hear the speakers compete once again at the Ashmolean on 9 March.