The Football Art Prize - exhibition and winners

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The Football Art Prize - exhibition and winners

To coincide with the 2022 FIFA World Cup, and with support from Arts Council England, the Football Art Prize invited artists to celebrate art and football.

The Football Art Prize competition received entries from artists living around the UK, Europe, and the world, including Barbados, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, Japan, Lithuania, New Zealand, Russia, Singapore, Slovenia, South Korea, Togo, the United States, and more.

All of the submissions were reviewed by a selection panel made out of personalities from the worlds of art and football: former England footballers David James MBE and Gordon Taylor OBE, art critic Sacha Craddock , Turner Prize winning artist Mark Wallinger , and curators Jo Cunningham, Mark Doyle and Kirstie Hamilton.

The judges shortlisted 69 artworks by 50 artists for the exhibition, and selected three artists to win £10,000 in prizes.

First prize

Buckingham-based artist Toby Michael won the First Prize, worth £5,000, for his oil painting of Roy Keane, below.

Inspired by an infamous photograph of Roy Keane holding an ice cream while scowling at the camera, Toby Michael represents the player-turned-pundit as a painter in the studio.

The award-winning work showcases Keane in a pose reminiscent of the viral photograph, standing paint brush in hand, in front of a self-portrait of himself as a devil.

“Roy Keane often paints us a clear and concise picture with his plain-speaking brand of punditry. Here he is simply painting a self-portrait” explains Toby.

The judges applauded this portrait of the straight-talking Roy Keane – whether or not they personally approved of his sometimes-divisive persona – for its light touch and humour, which revealed great perception beyond the caricature.

“I felt the competition was a huge success and the quality of art was better than I imagined it would be” says David James. “The deliberations went on for a long time, like a league table towards the end of the season, different names in the top three. The winning piece was one thing we all seemed to agree on… not one that I would have hanging in my home, however” the former England goalkeeper added with a smile.


Second prize

The Second Prize of £3,000 goes to London-based artist Theo Ellison for his digital work Skills Video.

The film features an avatar of Adriano Leite Ribeiro, the former Inter Milan striker more commonly known simply as Adriano. Although his career was marked by inconsistency, he became immortalised as a cult figure thanks to his unstoppable videogame counterpart, which omits his mercurial unpredictability.

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“Skills Video explores how nostalgia and romanticised narratives operate within the idea of the ‘flawed genius’ footballer” says Theo.

“Football fans often seem to live vicariously through their players, and a player like Adriano, with all his nostalgic fleeting brilliance and lost potential, maps neatly onto the ‘tragic hero’ narrative. That narrative is explored here through the lens of the logo-saturated visual culture that surrounds football and its idealised depictions.”

“Theo Ellison’s animated film Skills Video , which makes a powerful play on the construction of the star, displays the true distance between virtual and actual, as well as the frightening relationship between the media, market, and individual player” adds art critic and Football Art Prize selector Sacha Craddock.


Third prize

The Third Prize of £2,000 goes to Charlotte C Mortensson for Shabba 1980-2018, which is part of her larger photography series Football in Trench Town.

The award-winning photograph depicts a football-themed mural inside a small house in the neighbourhood of Trench Town, Kingston, Jamaica. The painted window panes cast a mystical light into the only room in the house, and its beautiful mural of a player about to score a goal.

“I was taking photographs of the exterior of a small house which had been decorated with team logos, when a neighbour said I could go inside to see more” Charlotte explains. “I was told that the past owner, Shabba, had created all the artworks. Later that day, I showed the photographs to a good friend. He told me that Shabba was his older brother who’d been shot in 2018. Shabba’s main love was football. The house stands untouched in his memory.”

“This apparently straight-forward photograph from Jamaica represents the continuous domestic presence of football, with an interior carrying traces of a painted football as it moves across the room” notes Sacha Craddock.


The Exhibition

The Football Art Prize exhibition is open at Touchstones Rochdale and free to visit until 26 June 2022.

The show will tour to the Millennium Gallery, Sheffield, from July 2022, and to Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens from November 2022.

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