This summer’s Dubel Prize event hosted at the London Royal Exchange, is testament to the dedication and mastery of emerging artists who push the boundaries of creativity, and is a tribute to artistic brilliance and innovation amidst a rapidly changing landscape.
A finale of 12 talented artists were selected for the Dubel Prize shortlist, engaging in conversations about their stylistic journeys. In the words of founder Damian Alexander Dubel, in a world filled with rapid change and advances in technology, it is vital for us to recognise and nourish young, talented individuals who have the potential to reshape our creative landscape; Art is much more than just a medium, a mastery, or a melody; it is an expression of the human spirit.
Art has the unique ability to capture our emotions, to challenge our perspectives, and inspire us in ways that words alone cannot. By supporting art and artists, we give life to a creativity and imagination that can leave a lasting impact. Most of all, the Dubel Prize is a celebration of connection, underscoring the potential that materialises when passionate people collaborate. The legacy of excellence that transcends individual achievement, exemplifies the boundless possibilities that emerge when people are brought together with a common purpose.
By providing opportunities for exposure, collaboration, and professional development, the Dubel Prize aims to help emerging artists navigate the competitive art marketplace, building the confidence necessary to advance their careers. The final selection of artists had the opportunity to showcase their work at individual events hosted by the Dubel; and at the end of the year, an awards ceremony takes place, where a panel of judges consisting of curators, critics, authors and industry experts from the UK and beyond will pick the emerging artist of the year.
Given the challenges faced by performance artists in recent years, with multiple lockdowns, social restrictions, and health constraints, the Dubel Prize aims to champion the continued importance of all the arts amidst a rapidly changing landscape. One lucky prize winner is also to receive: £20,000, free creative space for a year, 4 night trip to Hong Kong, article in an annual coffee table book, interview in Art Review magazine, showcasing in ‘top tier’ venues around London, £1,000 art supplies, annual membership to Home Grown, a signing to Red Eight Gallery for 3 years, and art works shown at the 5 year anniversary event.
The Red Eight District
Red Eight Gallery are permanent residents of the London Royal Exchange, and house emerging contemporary artists alongside more established creatives and blue chip creators. Despite turbulence in the stock market, global equities and the ongoing impacts of the pandemic, the art market flourished in 2022, revealing a 16% increase in Western art auction turnover compared to the previous year.
The Asian market continues to dominate the Fine Art auction sector. Dong Kui, chief researcher at Beijing’s Central Academy of Fine Art’s Art Market Research Centre says that “over the past two years, Asia has surpassed North America and Europe to become the world’s largest art market, accounting for about 36% of the world’s turnover.” Dong’s figures do not include estimates for gallery sales, as when these are included, the US emerges in first place – accounting for 43% of the market.
Another critical consideration for investors is the breakdown of the market by creation period. According to Artprice, modern art accounted for 35% of total auction turnover in 2022, with post-war representing 26%, contemporary 18%, Old Masters 11%, and 19th century art 10%. The contemporary art segment is of particular interest, since this category has hugely diversified in recent years.
Red Eight Gallery highlight that the art market shows considerable strength compared to traditional investments. Since 1985, contemporary art has performed outstandingly for asset-class investors, returning an average of 7.5% pa, compared to 6.5% from investment-grade bonds during the same time frame. This demonstrates the pulse of the global art market, with ample opportunities for investors and collectors to enter in the hopes of turning a profit.
Although the criteria for judging the winner is not quite clear, the panel consists of a colourful array of characters. Founder of the Dubel Prize, Damian is an entrepreneur known for his ventures such as Mr Red Fox Of London, Bella Mayford, Disrupt Events and Disrupt Media. Working hand in hand with Red Eight Gallery CEO, Julian Usher, emerging names hope to gain the backing of an experienced art dealer, with Sotheby’s training and a history of managing multiple client portfolios.
Maeve Doyle is an internationally renowned art critic and Artistic Director of Maddox Gallery. She is BBC Radio’s art correspondent and the host of ‘A Private View with Maeve Doyle’. She was also at the helm of Mayfair’s infamous Bank Robber Gallery which was responsible for the sale of Banksy’s murals: Slave Labour and Girl With Balloon. Another gallerist is Dameon Sandhu, director of sales at Home House, working closely with the country houses, boutique city centre hotels and properties overseas.
Carsten Recksik is a publisher at ArtReview and studied Art and Public Space at the Academy of Fine Arts in Nuremberg. He sits alongside British painter Will Teather, known for creating contemporary images that reveal an adventurous imagination combined with a mastery of traditional skills. His figurative illustrations often depict curious characters caught up in uncanny situations. He is influenced by magical-realism and lifts motifs from diverse sources such as Flemish still life, baroque art and Weimar painters.
Farzana Sarwar has a background as a specialist art teacher spanning over two decades, and currently sources new artistic talent for her gallery at OMNIDE. She actively supports female artists and is an advocate for fellow mothers. Another passionate arts professional with extensive experience is Matthew Lord, who accumulated his knowledge of the art market while working with industry leaders including Phillips Auctioneers and White Cube.
Finally Richard Utting is partnership and development manager at Centre Point, and is responsible for producing many of the charity fundraising galas; alongside Okiem – an award-winning pianist and composer, who’s pieces are described as “cinematic classical.”
Freddie Peacock: 20 year old London-based “creative prodigy”, Freddie Peacock is the latest young talent to breakthrough the city’s scene, honouring his skills as a contemporary artist and designer. Originally heavily focused on portraiture as a painter, he expanded his horizons into landscapes and statement pieces, with the aim of showcasing his talents in more than one field. A remarkable career so far has been recognised by numerous brands, musicians and media outlets on an international scale. Most notable is Instagram – where he was selected as one of the best creators on the platform under the age of 21.
Hannah Thomas: an abstract painter based in Wiltshire that has a BA hons in Art and Visual Culture. She pursued a career as a photographer, primarily working in the music sector, before returning to her first love – painting, in the pursuit of greater autonomy and creative control.
Jonathan Retallick: North Wales’ green-haired export focuses on the powerful interplay between human emotion, light, and landscape. His oil paintings are characterised by a unique aesthetic that blends hyperrealism and abstraction. After earning his BA from Aberystwyth, his work has garnered recognition from esteemed institutions such as the Royal Academy, National Library of Wales and MOMA Cymru.
Karen Turner: an award-winning figure and portrait artist whose work is a commentary on the weight of expectations. Focusing on the physical body and the scrutiny to which it is commonly subjected, she explores what is expected of women, and the ways in which a woman’s shape is often considered to define her, as well as the impact that this has on her life and sense of self.
Lee Musgrave: was born to a watercolour hobbyist mother and an electronics-tinkering father; Lee has a career at the intersection of these disparate activities. Having studied philosophy and psychology at Leeds (for the kicks), he became a digital artist who forged an early career in videogame graphics for Rare/Nintendo. He now seeks to pursue an exclusively fine-art adventure in the contemporary art sphere, and is entirely self-taught.
Niller Svenningsen: is also self-taught, having started drawing and painting as a child. She honed her skills through years of dedicated practice, passion and experimentation. The majority of her work is oil and acrylic, where she creates chaotic and humorous scenes that depict vibrant and surreal landscapes referencing religion, fairy tales and sci-fi. She produced a series of paintings that began with an interest in the sun and moon, and the discombobulation that ensues when mulling over the cosmos.
Richard Embrey: left his artistic hobbies behind when he was advised to “get a proper job” in the 80s. After a career spent in digital advertising and consulting, he started painting again in 2018, before training in portraiture at Heatherley’s in Chelsea. His most recent series is a nod to Hogarth, on social life in London today and the changing face of Soho.
Jessie Foakes: has been painting for the last 3 years, while being in the tattoo industry for over a decade. During COVID she found the time to pick up new tools and play around with new creations. She works mainly with acrylic and spray paint, but has never used a paint brush – preferring snapped bits of wood, pallet knives and rulers. Her favourite tool right now is a trusty loaf knife. Her bread and butter are “obvious objects” and seeing how far she can push them. She doesn’t usually have an idea in mind and prefers just to get stuck into the process, seeing where it will lead.
Luke Edgar: finds himself absolved in people-watching. This flâneur particularly enjoys honing in on the lack of awareness people have about their surroundings; the disconnect of humanity in the cyborg era, and the vulnerability and stories that are often overlooked. Working with large scale steel using traditional oil painting, he “tattoos” into the paint and metal, to explore these themes in a bold and confronting, yet intimate way.
Elena Unger: is a Central Saint Martins alumnus, as well as recent graduate of Philosophical Theology at Cambridge University. As both an artist and academic, her practices mutually inform one another. She combines painting, sculpture and film to produce immersive installations and is concerned with the ontology of artistic making, arguing that works of art do not merely represent the divine, but participate in it.
Neil Watson: captivates viewers with his fresh perspectives on urban landscapes. Drawing inspiration from the vivacious street art scenes and the dynamic energy of the South West, his focus infuses the energy of everyday life into his work. He embodies influences reminiscent of Edward Hopper’s style, and as a self-taught artist that re-emerged during lockdown, rekindling his artistic journey has brought back fond memories of his school days.
Abotz: has a graffiti art practice that started when he was 10. Transitioning from the city to the canvas, he paints cartoon images with crass commercial and cultural twists. Preferring to remain anonymous under a pseudonym, he creates pieces relating to his personal life experiences, mostly residing in an evolving North West London landscape.