Foundation Diploma Alumna Emily Uttley is the winner of ArtWorks Together 2021, an international competition aiming to support the creative practice of adults with Learning Disabilities and/or Autism.
Emily’s work, ‘Sleeping Boy’ gained first place in the competition and will be shown alongside the work of 8 other competition winners. The exhibition includes artwork from the USA, Canada, Portugal and the UK and is on display at Wentworth Woodhouse from 29th May to 27th June.
On winning Emily said: “I’m so pleased to have won the ArtWorks Together competition. I hope that in doing so I’m able to inspire people who are thinking about studying a creative subject, particularly those who might also have a disability. People with disabilities are often misunderstood or overlooked so it’s refreshing to see a competition in the media which draws awareness to our abilities and celebrates our talents.”
Emily Uttley studied the Foundation Diploma in Art and Design graduating in 2016.
Image: 'Sleeping Boy' by Emily Uttley
We asked Emily about her time studying, she said: “I had the most inspiring year studying the Foundation course in Leeds. I’ll always remember how dedicated the tutors were, how much I learnt from the projects and how fun the experience was as a whole. Having the freedom to create independently in a creative environment for the first time felt really fulfilling and was what made the experience so special to me.”
"It’s hard to summarise what inspires me. I’m constantly drawn to things around me whether it’s art, music or books and that gives me a creative energy which kind of makes me feel impelled to create as a result. I honestly believe that anything is possible if you put your heart into something and set your mind on the kind of thing you’d like to achieve and that’s what keeps me going.”
Emily’s winning image depicts a figure lying alone on their bed suffering from a wave of depression. In her description of the image she reflects that, “It shows his complete surrender to battling it, yet the peacefulness of his pain. The boy is empty; no matter how much external vitality and vibrancy lives on, his illness renders him unresponsive and oblivious. He is suffering in a stunningly tranquil, and undisturbed way. We are reminded of the importance of comforting ourselves during our most private and painful moments."
Image: Courtesy of Emily Uttley
"After having a diagnosis of Asperger's syndrome at a young age, I have always struggled to relate to other people, and have consequently suffered from feelings of isolation, anxiety and sometimes depression. I therefore use my imaginary subjects as a reflection of my own most inner feelings and private moments.”
On her winning submission to the Artworks Together Competition, Emily said: “This image depicts a boy / young man, lying on his bed alone and in an awkward position, suffering from a wave of depression. It shows his complete surrender to battling it, yet the peacefulness of his pain. The boy is empty; no matter how much external vitality and vibrancy lives on, his illness renders him unresponsive and oblivious. He is suffering in a stunningly tranquil, and undisturbed way. We are reminded of the importance of comforting ourselves during our most private and painful moments.
On her work and inspirations, Emily said: “I enjoy doing photography and using photoshop to make digital drawings but my favourite medium will always be drawing and painting by hand. It feels more personal and heartfelt creating that way and I also find it more challenging, which makes it more rewarding in the end.
The ArtWorks Together International Learning Disability and Autism Arts Competition is open to all artists with Learning Disabilities and/or Autism over the age of 16.