Winner of the Robert Walters Group UK Young Artist of the Year Award Announced!
The finalists (left to right): Francisco Rodriguez, William Harman, Rob Branigan, Morgan Dowdall, Linnet Rubaya, Azraa Motala, Conor Rogers, Camilla Hanney, Malgorzata Lisiecka, Manon Ouimet. Photo by Reece Straw.

The finalists (left to right): Francisco Rodriguez, William Harman, Rob Branigan, Morgan Dowdall, Linnet Rubaya, Azraa Motala, Conor Rogers, Camilla Hanney, Malgorzata Lisiecka, Manon Ouimet. Photo by Reece Straw.

Conor Rogers, 27 was named as the winner of the Robert Walters Group UK Young Artist of the Year Award, at an awards ceremony held at the prestigious Saatchi Gallery yesterday evening [Monday 7 October].

Conor was recipient to the £10,000 cash prize presented by global recruitment consultancy Robert Walters Group, after being selected ahead of the other nine shortlisted artists for work submitted within the brief of ‘Diversity.’

Conor Rogers. Photo by Reece Straw.

Sheffield-based artist Conor focuses his work primarily on landscapes and domestic scenes in the North of England, which are painted directly onto found or constructed materials from the everyday.

Specifically, for his winning pieces Conor focused on using ice pop wrappers, unused betting slips and discarded drug baggies. His works of art tend to be influenced by a very personal relationship he has with a time or place, combined with a critical approach towards painting as an object. The subjects of his ideas can touch upon varying concerns and interests towards our everyday British environments, daily happenings, northern council life, cultural identities, and the sense of self in Northern Britain.

The winning piece of work will be shown at the Robert Walters Group head office in Covent Garden for 12 months and at an international art event with UK Young Artists (UKYA) in 2020.

Philippa Adams, Conor Rogers, Michael Forbes and Michelle Bowen. Photo by Reece Straw.

Philippa Adams, Conor Rogers, Michael Forbes and Michelle Bowen. Photo by Reece Straw.

Conor commented:

“I am so grateful to the Robert Walters Group, UKYA and Saatchi Gallery for recognising the work, time and patience it takes to sustain a career as an artist and for choosing to support us. Since leaving art school, I’ve had connections with certain organisations that have supported the structure and direction of my practice and allowed me to explore new boundaries and territories. It’s incredible to be showing my work at a renowned gallery such as Saatchi, but also to be recognised by UKYA who have consistently supported me and helped shape my practice.

“This platform is amazing for emerging artists. To show our work in spaces like the Saatchi Gallery, to be recognised by my peers, by the judges and the guests. I’m so happy and overwhelmed, it feels like the hard work is paying off!

“My art practice started because I drew on the back of a crisp packet in the pub. By creating art on these random objects, I was able to understand the world and share my experience of it, and now I’m sharing that at the Saatchi Gallery through this amazing platform from the Robert Walters Group.”

Philippa Adams, Conor Rogers, Michael Forbes and Michelle Bowen. Photo by Reece Straw.

Camilla Hanney. Photo by Reece Straw

Runner-up on the evening Camilla Hanney was awarded a cash prize of £5,000 to go towards the development of her future career in the industry. London-based Camilla Hanney, 27, created a stir on the evening with her ephemeral floor installation – ‘The Fragile Texture of Desires’ – which explores both the fragility of the human condition and the complex nature of our desires. Her second piece of work on display – ‘Domestic Pleasure’ – plays with the tropes of the witch. The broomstick presents us with a symbol of the oppressed powerful woman who was demonised because of her sexuality.

Camilla commented:

“Being recognised in this award not only provides me with the peace of mind conferred by the financial resources to continue my practice and explore new creative ground, it has also granted me the confidence in my work and a sense of support. At this very early, precarious stage in my career I believe feeling supported holds immeasurable worth.”

Robert Walters, Camilla Hanney, Michael Forbes and Michelle Bowen. Photo by Reece Straw.

Robert Walters, Camilla Hanney, Michael Forbes and Michelle Bowen. Photo by Reece Straw.

Robert Walters, Camilla Hanney, Michael Forbes and Michelle Bowen. Photo by Reece Straw.

The awards signalled the first time these three organisations – Robert Walters Group, UK Young Artists and Saatchi Gallery – have joined together to help provide a platform for a new generation of young artists (18-30) to launch their careers.

Judges included Philippa Adams - Director of Saatchi Gallery, Robert Walters – CEO of Robert Walters Group, Gavin Turk - artist, Michael Forbes - artist, and Rosalind Davis - artist, writer and UKYA alumni.

The awards ceremony was curated by Garth Gratrix, an internationally exhibiting artist, curator and studio director based in the North West of England. Gratrix’s work often showcases cross-disciplinary practices in diverse and unique settings.

A total of 500 artists submitted work. The 2019 finalists were: Azraa Motala; Camilla Hanney; Conor Rogers; Francisco Rodriguez; Linnet Panashe Rubaya; Malgorzata Lisiecka; Manon Ouimet; Morgan Dowdall; Rob Branigan; and William Harman.

Robert Walters, CEO of Robert Walters Group comments: 

“We were so pleased to see the positive reception to the shortlisted work on display last night. Providing opportunities for ambitious professionals to achieve their potential is the foundation of our business and as an organisation it was a privilege to be able to provide such a platform for young artists in the UK. We are looking forward to the return of the Robert Walters Group UK Young Artist of the Year Award next year.”

Michelle Bowen, Director, UKYA adds:

“The shortlist for the first Robert Walters Group UK Young Artist of the Year has been exceptional and UKYA thanks all ten finalists for their outstanding contributions. We would like to congratulate Conor Rogers on winning the award and look forward to working with him over the coming year on an exciting international project.

“We also wish continued success to our runner up Camilla Hanney. Collaborating with Robert Walters Group and Saatchi Gallery is an important new development for UKYA, which is already helping us reach new audiences and support more artists.”

Philly Adams, Director, Saatchi Gallery remarks:

“I would like to thank the finalists for their outstanding contributions to the Award. It has been a pleasure collaborating with Robert Walters Group and UK Young Artists to facilitate the discovery of exceptional artists representing UK’s diverse population.

“Congratulations to Conor Rogers on being awarded Robert Walters Group UK Young Artist of the Year, and well done to runner up Camilla Hanney for her remarkable effort. The artist’s participations have been important in the culmination of the project, and we look forward to continuing our mission to providing a platform for talented, emerging young artists.”

Laura Evans