Fine Art graduate wins Gillian Dickinson North East Young Sculptor Award

14 September 2020

The winner of this year's Gillian Dickinson North East Young Sculptor Award has been announced as Leeds Arts University Fine Art graduate Laurie Powell.  

Laurie will receive a £6,500 commission to create an installation for the sculpture gardens at Cheeseburn in Northumberland. To create the work Laurie will dig clay from eight places in Northumberland including Cheeseburn and open a ceramic studio in the Potting Shed in the gardens. In this temporary studio, Laurie will produce a suite of ceramic objects which show off the different clays and geology of the region. Visitors to the sculpture gardens will see Laurie at work before the finished pieces are exhibited in 2021.

Laurie said, “I’m delighted with this opportunity to create work alongside the team at Cheeseburn. It will give me the chance to continue exploring the artistic potential of rural Northumberland, a region that has much to contribute to the contemporary debates taking place in art and culture.” 

Image: Laurie Powell at work in his Alnwick studio © Laurie Powell 

Each year, Cheeseburn, in partnership with the Gillian Dickinson Trust, mentor early-career artists, sculptors and designers to create proposals that are then entered into the Gillian Dickinson North East Young Sculptor Award.

The shortlisted artists – all working, practising or studying in the North East – adapted and created their proposals during lockdown. Mentoring sessions took place via Zoom and they created intricate scale models visualising their ideas not in universities or studios, but in kitchens and bedrooms. The eleven proposals were exhibited to the public at Cheeseburn in August.

Joanna Riddell, founder of Cheeseburn Sculpture said, “Our finalists produced a very diverse show of their proposals, but Laurie’s stood out, perhaps for its very quiet presence. I am intrigued and excited for his proposal to hand dig clay from our region. My congratulations to him, and all our other finalists who produced some wonderful work. It is a great privilege to deliver the Young North East Sculptor of the Year Award, and it wouldn’t be possible without the support of the Gillian Dickinson Trust.”

In addition to the main award are a series of £1,000 awards to support five mini-commissions with five of the shortlisted young artists awarded £1,000 each adapt their proposals and create new works for Cheeseburn in spring 2021. 

Alexander Dickinson, Trustee at the Gillian Dickinson Trust and nephew of Gillian Dickinson herself said, “I was very impressed by the quality of the models produced by the shortlisted artists and delighted to name Laurie Powell as the North East Young Sculptor of the Year. Gillian Dickinson was a keen collector of ceramics as well as a proud Northumbrian. Laurie's proposal, and the opportunities it suggests, would have excited her as much as it does me.”

Image: Shortlisted artists including Gillian Dickinson North East Young Sculptor Award winner Laurie Powell at Cheeseburn in February 2020.