The John Ruskin Prize 2017 is now open for entries: www.ruskinprize.co.uk
The theme of the 3rd John Ruskin Prize in 2015, Recording Britain Now: Society, couldn’t be more apt in the current socio-political climate. Far from shying away from politics, all John Ruskin Prize nominees had plenty to draw from by faithfully depicting and interpreting what they see everyday with an unwavering focus; from the effects of gentrification, to medical procedures, consumerism and end of life care. Collectively, the work is an invaluable catalogue of modern times captured by those practiced in the art of truly looking and recording what they see.
Nothing could be more on-topic than actually catching politics-in-action such as student prize winner, Robin Sukatorn. In recent times Robin has sat on a panel with the Director of the Guild of St. George, Rachel Dickinson, to discuss the influence of Guild founder John Ruskin’s ideas on his work. The Big Draw had a chat with Robin about his practice and the piece which has got everybody talking about him.
Your artwork, Jeremy Corbyn Speaks in Manchester, was awarded the Student Prize in the third John Ruskin Prize. How has this opportunity impacted your work and outlook as an artist?
My experience with the John Ruskin Prize has really inspired me to push forward with new work, and has given me a greater sense of purpose and confidence as an artist and illustrator, particularly in terms of using drawing to record a view of contemporary society.
When did you start creating art, and what inspires you to continue?
For as long as I can remember I’ve been drawing. I’m told by my mum that my first life-like drawing was of a snake with eyes in a Garfunkel’s restaurant when I was two, and I suppose I haven’t really stopped since then! I’ve always been very observant and attentive to the details of the world around me, and drawing is how I translate this onto paper - starting on napkins and in the margins of schoolbooks; now in sketchbooks. Drawing really gives me a unique thrill and sense of adventure - it’s a way for me to explore and record the world around me. I’m continually motivated to improve as an artist, to push forward with new work, and to keep my eyes open for different subject matter.
Can you tell us about your practice?
My practice is currently focused on recording and documenting scenes, events and people from the cultural, political and community life of the North of England, through both live and reflective drawing. I’m also experimenting with the scope of reportage illustration, incorporating different processes, techniques and materials, including traditional printmaking and digital drawing.
How did you find out about The John Ruskin Prize?
I was presenting my first terms’ project work during a review session for my course, and a fellow student remarked that I should look into the John Ruskin Prize since my drawings are all about recording contemporary British society- the year’s theme! As I found out more I knew it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.
How do you feel about winning?
I am absolutely thrilled to have won the Student Prize. To have the opportunity to exhibit in Walsall and London alongside such a diverse and inspiring group of artists was incredible; to then be recognised by the judges and hear my name read out as a prize-winner was an enormous honour and I’m extremely grateful to everyone involved.
Can you talk about the key themes behind this work? What experiences do you seek to offer the viewer?
In my drawing I intended to capture a sense of the atmosphere and energy of the scene of newly-elected Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn giving a speech in support of postal services outside Manchester Cathedral- an event which I attended myself and drew live from the crowd. My hope is that the viewer feels immersed in the scene, and gains an insight into a specific moment which reflects the wider contemporary political landscape in Britain, as well as a local snapshot of life in Manchester.
What inspired you to choose this subject, and did you encounter any technical difficulties when creating the work?
To kick-start my studies in Manchester I was looking out for interesting subject-matter from which to draw, and by chance a mass anti-austerity demonstration arrived in Manchester in my second week of term, followed by Corbyn’s speech the next day. I’m always looking for ways of combining my passion for drawing with my interest in current affairs and politics, and recording this scene served as an ideal way of launching my reportage project looking at contemporary life in the North of England. It is always a challenge capturing scenes live on the scene, from amongst a bustling crowd and with subjects which are constantly on the move. To capture a full sense of the scene, I built and reflected on my live drawings and memories from the event and completed the final composition in my studio.
What medium did you use, and why?
I used a graphite pencil, which is usually my first port of call when drawing as I find I can wield it most naturally to produce a gestural and lively quality of line, especially suited to the quick and intuitive way in which I work.
How do you see your work developing in the future, and what’s next for 2016?
I am working towards developing my drawings from my explorations around the North of England into a printed collection, to be presented alongside larger-scale and more experimental work at my MA degree show opening in late September. I am also very excited to have just been awarded a scholarship to attend the 7th International Urban Sketchers Symposium which this July is hosted in Manchester. Alongside my main practice, I am working on an illustration themed on railway workers which will be displayed on a passenger bridge in Manchester’s Victoria Station, and am part of a group of artists renovating and managing a basement gallery space linked to the PS Mirabel Gallery in the city centre.
Where can people find out more?
A selection of my work can be seen in my online Bēhance portfolio (available at www.behance.net/RobinSukatorn), and I am active on Twitter in sharing updates and examples of my drawings- just look up my name. I am also hoping to set up my own website in the near future, so keep your eyes peeled!
Would you encourage others to enter the Prize? If so, why?
Absolutely. It’s a fantastic prize celebrating and promoting the social utility of drawing, as well as the important legacy of John Ruskin. It offers a great platform for emerging artists and an opportunity to share work and meet other like-minded artists and creative professionals. It’s been an absolute privilege and pleasure to be involved, and I would really encourage anyone considering entering to do so.
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The John Ruskin Prize 2017 is now open for entries: Click below for more>>>