The Sovereign Art Foundation has announced the winner the third annual Sovereign European Art Prize, selected by the judges from the 30 short-listed entries representing some of today’s most exciting contemporary European artists. The quality of all the submissions was exceptionally high, and the judges’ final votes were extremely close. But their unanimous choice to win the €25,000 first prize was Nadia Hebson’s ‘Valzer’. Her elegantly melancholic painting of a shipwreck seemed an especially fitting image for the current economic turmoil!
Hebson commented: “I am absolutely ecstatic to be awarded the Sovereign European Art Prize, especially by such a distinguished panel of judges, whom I can’t thank enough. My painting of a shipwreck does appear quite prescient in the light of recent events! However I was genuinely surprised to hear that I had won with such a dark and romantic image. This award is, for me, the icing on the cake in a year of unprecedented experiences and I would like to thank all those who have supported me in getting this far.
Born in 1974 in Romsey, UK, Hebson studied at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design and The Royal Academy of Arts, both in London. Currently the Artist in Residence at Durham Cathedral, she was also awarded a Derek Hill Foundation Scholarship earlier this year and spent three months studying at The British School at Rome. Hebson has exhibited internationally and was selected for this year’s Jerwood Contemporary Painters exhibition. She has previously been the recipient of an Arts Council Award and Duveen Woman Artist Award. For the last four years, she has lived and worked in Berlin where her love of middle European writer shas developed. The results of the public vote – from both the exhibition and online – were also counted and the winner was Doug Fishbone with ‘Untitled (Banana Project)’. Fishbone was awarded €1,000 for the public vote prize. It was an especially fitting prize for the artist whose entry documented a project where he invited the public to join together as a ‘collective sculptor’ by disassembling a huge pile of bananas left in prominent public places.
All the works, except for the winning entry, were auctioned in association with Sotheby’s with the proceeds being split 50:50 between the artists and the charitable foundation. There were also three donated pieces, including one by tennis legend Martina Navratilova and her co-artist Juraj Kralik.
Another was by Nasser Azam, former chief operating officer at investment bank Merrill Lynch, and now the full time artist in residence at London’s County Hall. Azam’s ‘Intricate Requiem II’ commanded the highest bid of the night, fetching 80,000 €. The third piece was donated by Sir Peter Blake, chairman of the judges and a supporter of the Sovereign European Art Prize since its inception. This year the Sovereign Art Foundation will be using the proceeds of the auction to support Kids Co, a charity which provides invaluable support to London’s vulnerable inner-city young people. Sir Peter Blake and Camila Batmanghelidjh (founder of Kids Co) with Peter’s donated work.