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Watford artist Julie Liebling is in the running for the UK's most prestigious, and valuable, art prize, the Threadneedle Prize 2013
Julie's painting, Untitled, has been selected from more than 3,000 entries to feature in the prize's exhibition
Last week was a good week for Julie Liebling from Watford. On Tuesday, she was awarded a 2:1 in her fine art degree, which she had studied for at the University of Hertfordshire. And then on Thursday, she learnt that one of her paintings had been selected from more than 3,500 to feature in the exhibition of one of the largest annual art competition in the UK, the Threadneedle Prize.
“It was quite a week,“ Julie laughs. “I was absolutely delighted to find out that I’d been chosen for the final exhibition. I had no idea there had been more than 3,000 entries!“
The Threadneedle Prize is the leading competition for figurative and representational painting and sculpture in the UK, and one of the most valuable.
Julie’s painting, Untitled, is one of around 100 pieces to have made it through to the prize’s exhibition at the Mall Galleries in central London. A shortlist of around nine or ten artists will be announced on August 15 and the overall winner of the prize, and recipient of £30,000, will be revealed on September 24. There will also be a Visitors’ Choice prize, worth £10,000, for which visitors to the exhibition will be able to vote for their own favourite.
Untitled is the culmination of lots of different ideas and experimentation for Julie.
“A lot of my work is about the interplay between memory and emotion,“ she explains, about the mixed media piece that is painted in both acrylic and oil. “Untitled is a combination of thoughts about my mother, Maureen, or Mo as she was known.
“People seem to get drawn to it, curious about it. As the artist, I know where the thoughts and ideas behind it come from, but I didn’t want to say ‘This is about my mum, this is her sewing machine’. I wanted people to think what it reminds them of, whether it reminds them of an earlier time.“
Julie studied for her fine art degree part-time for five years, juggling her course requirements with family and work commitments – she is the manager of the advice line and information service at the Intercountry Adoption Centre in Barnet, and before that she had spent two years on an art and design course at West Herts College.
She has enjoyed painting since she was a child and doing a degree in art is something she’s always wanted to do.
What does the Threadneedle selection mean to Julie?
“Oh gosh, it’s a wonderful opportunity for me at this point in my career,“ she says, “just when I’m moving away from university and stepping out there, into being an artist.
“But, more than that, it feels that I’ve communicated something that somebody else is seeing – the jury has seen what I was trying to say. I know what’s prompted it but you’re hoping other people will look at it and see for themselves something in it, something that connects with them. As an artist, that’s so important.“ Has Julie let herself consider that she might win the £30,000 prize?
“Have I dared? Gosh – yes!“ she laughs. “But I’m at the beginning of my career, so I really don’t know. I’d be absolutely delighted, but we’ll have to wait and see. Even if I don’t win, making it to this stage is such a personal achievement. It’s a new beginning for me, as an artist, as I go forward from here.“
- Julie’s work will be on display at the Threadneedle Prize exhibition from September 25 until October 12 at Mall Galleries, The Mall, near Trafalgar Square. Details: threadneedleprize.com
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