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UEL alumna wins Evening Standard Contemporary Art Prize

Helen A Pritchard wins for work inspired by London

A University of East London (UEL) alumna has won the first ever Evening Standard Contemporary Art Prize.

Helen A Pritchard took the honour for her ‘To Make a Sculpture’ (pictured) above) an abstract piece of work representing London, which she describes as an ‘exciting city full of opportunity’. Helen is a graduate of UEL’s BA (Hons) Fine Art programme. 

The prize, which comes with £10,000, was announced in a ceremony at the National Gallery.

Helen told the Evening Standard, “This painting represents a turning point from a traditional way of painting. I was free to explore and experiment with new ideas, using material I found on the streets chosen because of form, texture and colour. 

“These dualities of place are fervent in my work after living in London for 20 years. This painting marks a departure but also the importance of individuality. It is about then and now.”

The Evening Standard Contemporary Art Prize asked entrants to create a work inspired by London. Helen was among 10 finalists chosen from more than 200 submissions by a panel of critics and artists. UEL MA Fine Art student Doreen Fletcher also made the shortlist.

Evening Standard Arts Editor William Moore, who chaired the panel, said, "Each work on the shortlist was a pleasure, but Helen A Pritchard’s To Make a Sculpture, one of the more abstract entries we received, was the work we kept returning to.

"Pritchard’s painting expresses London’s openness and optimism. It is a love letter to the freedoms of this city.”

Helen, 42, was born and raised in South Africa. Helen graduated from UEL in 2009, and earned a master’s degree from the Royal College of Art in 2011. She lives in Brixton.

Professor Hassan Abdalla, PVC/Dean for the UEL’s College of Arts, Technology and Innovation (ATI), said, “The recognition is a testament to the exceptionally creative work being done by UEL students and graduates. I am so proud of the talents of our Fine Art students and graduates.”

Tim Allen, Senior Lecturer in Fine Art at UEL, said, “Helen has exhibited solo and in a number of group shows  in London, the UK and internationally, and is becoming  a name to reckon with in the London art world.

“Her work is expressive, highly personal and idiosyncratic, lying somewhere between figuration and abstraction.  She has always exhibited a 'natural' touch and flair in her work – this is quite rare.”

MA Fine Art student Doreen’s shortlisted ‘Salmon Lane’ is part of a series of paintings produced after a visit to Stepney, where she lived from 1983-2006.