Ones To Watch: CuratorSpace prizewinners

May 2021 saw the opening of the Ones to Watch exhibition by Sunny Bank Mills Gallery, an annual open exhibition showcasing the best of Yorkshire's graduate artists. The exhibition brought together work by artists from across disciplines, from painting to sculpture, film, photography, ceramics, and design.

As part of the exhibition, selected artists are awarded prizes, including money, a residency, studio space and access to facilities, as well as CuratorSpace memberships. We are proud to present this year's CuratorSpace membership prizewinners: Hugh Roberts, Jioni Warner, Katie Dickinson, Mia Symonds, and Samuel Price.

Hugh Roberts, a recent graduate of Leeds Beckett, tackles personal and political issues head on, with a pinch of silliness. His practice focuses on creating dynamic collages using an eclectic mix of found materials, comic books, and photography. Each piece is process driven by manipulating and distorting imagery. He appropriates old and new elements, fragmenting images and shapes to make work with a timeless pop surrealist twist.

Jioni Warner is an artist born in Leeds. She is currently in the final year of her BA at Staffordshire University. From a young age, Warner developed a passion for art. She describes herself as a mixed media painter but has experimented with lots of materials over the years. Warner uses portraiture to inform and communicate the exploitation of black women in society and its links to historical events. Her work is part of an ongoing series that raises awareness about the issues black women face day-to-day dealing with the double burden of racism and sexism. Warner uses herself as the model and uses photos gathered from the Internet to fill the background of her paintings. 

Katie Dickinson is an artist and current student at the University of Leeds, working with photography to explore how time is encapsulated by the image. Intrigued by the sense of temporal disorientation brought about by the deceleration of 'normal life' over the past year, her recent practice seeks to prolong fleeting motions and moments in time through different durational photographies. Her moving image piece, Kairos (2021), is a composite of separate slow-motion videos layered on top of one another, which see the artist throwing, warping and rippling a two-year-old plastic dust sheet over the camera. At the heart of this work is the materiality of the plastic, the fluidity of which is both foregrounded and exacerbated by the film’s slow pace, allowing the sheet to take obscure, kinetic forms in mid-air.

Mia Mai Symonds is an emerging Artist, Designer and Researcher. Since graduating from Chelsea College of Arts (UAL) in 2019 with a BA Honours in Textile Design, specialising in weaving, she has since gone on to develop her practice at Goldsmiths University of London where she is currently completing a masters degree in Design Expanded Practice. By examining how we are all connected through cloth, Mia's work aims to explore and showcase our human relationship with woven textiles, its universality and the power of the single thread. Her work sets to interrogate cloth as a boundary between the self and the other, between the self and our environment. Cloth as performative. Cloth as a universal language. Mia's visual practice situates around the body, dress, installation, language, architecture, space, interaction, and the art of everyday​, circulating around issues concerning time, gender and the digital age.

Samuel Price is currently studying at Leeds Arts University. His artwork takes the tropes of historical European portraiture and places diverse contemporary young people inside structures traditionally reserved for aristocracy. He aims to make powerful portraits of his generation which celebrate progress as well as empowering people with a sense of unity and solidarity. The series of four oil portraits depict Sam and his housemates. To give these portraits an elevated sense of grandeur, he used baroque tropes such as dark backgrounds, rich colours, and chiaroscuro lighting. A focus on the fashion of his subjects not only celebrates their individualism but reflects a contemporary culture. The faces are all concealed in some way; this interruption is a rejection of traditional conventions of portraiture, shifting more power and control to the individuals.

About Ones To Watch

This year’s exhibition was selected by Jane Bhoyroo (Yorkshire Sculpture International), Hannah Obee (Harewood House) and Catriona McAra (Curator at Leeds Arts University) along with the Sunny Bank Mills team.

Participating artists: 

Amy Guo, Aniela Preston, Cameron Lings, Emerson Pullman, Glen Ogden, Grace Murphy, Hang Zhang, Hugh Roberts, Jay Villacci, Jenny Brown, Jioni Warner, Katherine James, Katie Dickinson, Lewis Andrews, Lynne Barker, Maria Sappho, Megan Dalton, Megan Milner, Meri Croft, Mia Symonds, Milly Parker, Ruby Plank, Sally Barton, Sam Mitchell, Samuel Price, Sarah Cawthray, Sasha Napoli, Teddy De Souza, Sonia Moran, Steven Wood, Will Hudson, Yasmin Lari.

All of the artists are 2020 graduates or current students, living or studying in Yorkshire. Schools include; The University of Leeds, Leeds Arts University, Leeds Beckett University, Sheffield Hallam University, The University of Huddersfield, York St John University, MIMA School of Art and Design (Teesside University), York College, Staffordshire University,Goldsmiths University, Nottingham Trent University, and Chelsea College of Arts (UAL).

You can view the exhibition online here:


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