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Kerri Pratt - Jonathan Vickers Fine Art Award Winner 2015

PUBLISHED: 12:04 17 March 2015 | UPDATED: 12:04 17 March 2015

Kerri Pratt

Kerri Pratt

as submitted

Foundation Derbyshire’s biennial Jonathan Vickers Fine Art Award has been awarded to Heanor’s Kerri Pratt

Kerri PrattKerri Pratt

The Jonathan Vickers Fine Art Award goes from strength to strength and the creation of a permanent art collection for Derbyshire continues to develop. Kerri Pratt, the sixth artist to be given the award and the first winner from Derbyshire, recently began her residency at Banks Mill Studios on Bridge Street in Derby. The culmination of Kerri’s residency will be a solo exhibition this autumn, from 19th September to 15th November, in Derby Museum & Art Gallery.

Kerri, who hails from Heanor, graduated from the University of Derby three years ago with a First Class BA (Hons) Fine Art degree. She has taken a sabbatical from her job at Derby College, where she works as a Learner Services Adviser, and is now based full time in Banks Mill, Derby, for the nine-month residency.

Each residency has the theme of a ‘Sense of Place’ but each artist has their own unique focus. Kerri’s residency will look at ‘Our Treasure Houses’, something for which Derbyshire is renowned. How Kerri interprets the theme is entirely her own choice and in the past artists have been known to take unusual approaches to their chosen topics!

The award itself was established by Derbyshire Community Foundation (Foundation Derbyshire) in 1998 with the help of a legacy from the estate of the late Jonathan Vickers, a lifelong lover of fine arts. Kerri was selected for the award from a high quality field, competing against the largest number of applicants in the award’s history. The award itself was first made in 2001, with the aim of developing a collection of work by rising artists, which will be recognised nationally and will enrich the cultural life of Derbyshire. Each Jonathan Vickers Fine Art Award winner is asked to donate a proportion of the work they produce during their year’s residency to the permanent collection, which Foundation Derbyshire is building for the county.

During her residency, Kerri will produce a portfolio of new work for her solo exhibition at Derby Museum and also at The Dome at the University of Derby Buxton campus and she will undertake teaching at the University of Derby’s College of Arts. She will also lead an educational project in the community, supported by funding from Rolls-Royce plc. With staff from Derby Museums, Kerri will work with 12 young people, aged 16–24 years, to create an exhibition at Derby Museums with the young people taking their inspiration from the Museum’s sites and collections as well as ‘Our Treasure Houses’ of Derbyshire. The exhibition will be held in September 2015 alongside Kerri’s solo exhibition.

Kerri’s first set of paintings has taken its inspiration from the Magpie Mine at Sheldon. She explains what drew her to this project: ‘In terms of the emphasis of Our Treasure Houses, my first thoughts were to connect with places such as Chatsworth House and Kedleston Hall as obvious examples of the county’s renowned Treasures Houses. However, I also considered connecting with my working class roots, growing up in an ex-mining town, where coal mining was the “bread and butter” of the community, I began to consider alternative interpretations of treasure houses, looking at changing landscapes as a result of industrial influences, such as the history of lead mining in Derbyshire and the remaining relics of this past era. I am generally drawn to interesting architecture and curious spaces within man-made environments and Derbyshire has an abundance of such places to provide me with starting points. By connecting with the people and places associated with the county’s rich industrial heritage, I aim to develop a body of work, exploring ways to visually link the past to the present day. There is no telling how the work might evolve due to unforeseen discoveries during research and how things might inspire different trains of thought along the way.

‘As a general rule, in my previous work my intention is never to produce a realistic photographic image, nor does it contain a narrative. There is a distinct importance attached to the ambiguity my work contains. Through research, I will be able to establish reference points which will be associated with the places I visit and draw inspiration from, and choose to include in the work. Therefore the finished work will include elements of familiarity to intrigue and engage viewers without necessarily fully revealing themselves, and contribute to a continuing dialogue around the theme.’

Previous winners have enjoyed considerable success following their residency in Derbyshire. The fifth recipient, Bartholomew Beal, has recently held a solo exhibition ‘A Heap of Broken Images’, his response to TS Elliot’s poem ‘The Waste Land’, at the Fine Art Society in New Bond Street, London, in the heart of the art dealership world. He was the youngest ever artist to stage a solo show in the gallery’s 138 year history.

Kerri will continue to explore her theme as she takes inspiration from the key locations she visits and responds to during her residency; places connected with the mining industry initially, as well as many other industries which have left their mark on the landscape.

What is certain is that Kerri will produce a body of work which will be her own personal interpretation of ‘Our Treasure Houses’ and will provide a highly imaginative and thought provoking exhibition later this year. One not to be missed! n

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