Con­tenders in the pic­ture on North­ern Art Prize short­list

The short­list for the North­ern Art Prize has been an­nounced. Sheena Hast­ings talks to Liadin Cooke, one of the four artists.

Yorkshire Post - Culture & The Guide - - ART -

LIADIN Cooke’s work is of­ten sparked off some small thing she ob­serves. The Hud­der­s­field-based artist likes to ex­plore the his­tor­i­cal and emo­tional sig­nif­i­cance of sites and ob­jects around her. Some time ago she saw a sam­pler at the V&A, an orig­i­nal em­broi­dery from around 1830. Com­posed en­tirely of text, it tells the tragic story of a young maid called El­iz­a­beth Parks, who went into ser­vice at 13 and was abused by an em­ployer. In among the 700-odd words she refers to her­self as ‘one of the most mis­er­able ob­jects the Lord ever cre­ated...’ and re­counts how she moved from job to job be­fore ap­par­ently hav­ing a ner­vous break­down.

Cooke’s piece Mis­er­able Ob­ject, one of sev­eral pieces she has en­tered as a group for the North­ern Art Prize, is her re­sponse to the heartrend­ing story dis­tilled in can­vas and thread. The strands that unite her work are the con­cepts of at­tach­ment and loss, she says.

Cooke’s ab­stract draw­ing us­ing red wax at­tempts to mimic the pas­sion and skill of the orig­i­nal while also show­ing her own mas­tery and con­trol of her medium.

“El­iz­a­beth had lost every­thing, and I wanted to re­flect that. Although the stitch­ing is reg­u­lar and con­trolled, in be­tween the lines there is in­cred­i­ble pain, neu­ro­sis and lack of con­trol.” The ef­fect of Cooke’s piece is that of a soul caught in a strait­jacket.

Her Feli­cic Bar is a mass of green wax wrapped around a brass bar, some­how sug­ges­tive of dan­ger and hid­den life. The artist took her idea and the ti­tle from the 18th cen­tury philoso­pher Jeremy Ben­tham’s ‘feli­cic cal­cu­lus’ de­vised to mea­sure plea­sure and pain.

This is the first time Cooke has been nom­i­nated for the North­ern Art Prize. This time 23 artists of hugely vary­ing ages and prac­tis­ing in many dif­fer­ent me­dia were nom­i­nated by lu­mi­nar­ies of the art world, and that group has been whit­tled down to four fi­nal­ists, whose work is now on show at Leeds Art Gallery. The win­ner of the £16,500 prize will be an­nounced on Jan­uary 19. An­other of Cooke’s five pieces, Things That Have Been Thrown Away, fea­tures a cul­tured pearl lost amid a bed of ground up net­tles, echo­ing Cooke’s child­hood habit of throw­ing a tantrum then hurl­ing a prized ob­ject into a net­tle bed.

The four short­listed artists dis­play a won­der­ful and ex­hil­a­rat­ing range of ideas and styles, from Leo Fitz­mau­rice’s need to re-or­der the ev­ery­day items we al­most don’t see in his slide show The Way Things Ap­pear and Hori­zon (Leeds) in which he cre­ates a new work by link­ing the hori­zons in 20 paint­ings from the Leeds Art Gallery Col­lec­tion. James Hu­go­nin’s mys­te­ri­ous se­ries of large ab­stract paint­ings and smaller screen prints are each made up of 55,000 in­di­vid­ual marks of colour, and each im­age took a year to make.

Richard Rigg pro­vokes the viewer into think­ing again about or­di­nary ob­jects, as he turns them into co­nun­drums and play­ful propo­si­tions. This is a high qual­ity field.

www.north­ernart­prize. org.uk

NORTH­ERN SOULS: Hud­der­s­field-based artist Liadin Cooke (main pic­ture and above right), one of the four short­listed artists for the North­ern Art prize; and Sarah Brown, Cu­ra­tor of Ex­hi­bi­tions, Leeds Art Gallery, with work by Leo Fitz­mau­rice, an­other of...

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