MAFA Awards: 2022

MAFA have always had close links with Manchester School of Art, part of Manchester Metropolitan University. We’re keen to support and encourage new artists and have traditionally presented MAFA awards to graduating students.

2022 has been no different. After two years of digital exhibitions due to Covid this year’s Degree Show entitled ‘Falling Into Place‘ is on campus. Usually selection is made by a small group of MAFA artists, who view artwork in the graduate exhibition prior to the private view. President of MAFA, Kath Lowe, Vice-President, Janina Cebertowicz and guest judge Gerry Halpin were taken around the exhibition by Dr Tim Brennan to view paintings, drawings, sculpture and print created by the students. The panel discussed the artwork of 115 students with Fine Art tutors. Judging was incredibly difficult because of the high quality of the work.

Prizewinners were selected in four different catagories: painting, drawing, sculpture and print. These awards were presented to Ross Miley, Dominic Brooks, Yvonne Mulaney and Jenna Cawsey; each winner received £250. Additionally, MAFA has also introduced a new Outstanding Prize of £1000 which was awarded to Rachel Clancy. All the prize-winners have been invited to exhibit work in MAFA’s forthcoming exhibition at Stockport War Memorial Art Gallery.

Vice President of MAFA Janina Cebertowicz, Rachel Clancy, Jenna Cawsey, Yvonne Mulaney, President of MAFA Kath Lowe

Ross Miley | MAFA Painting Award

Yvonne Mulaney | MAFA Scupture Award

Yvonne’s work is concerned with finding a light in the dark through folklore and storytelling. She is particularly drawn to unfiltered tales, full of grotesque and rugged details that defy western standards of fairy tales and their happy endings. Such tales and legends can be found in Egyptian culture such The Bride of the Nile as and Chukchi culture such as the journey through to the maggot feeder. These stories, not yet sanitised for public consumption and print, remain metamorphic – they possess the ability to shapeshift across time and generations as they are told – existing ephemerally in places almost completely out of sight.

Yvonne uses symbolism from such stories to take the viewer on a journey from the beginning to the end of time. The boats spinning eternally in the centre of the ‘ocean’ whirl you in with the promise of sea washed treasures, away from the small wonders that go unnoticed everyday life. The boats that we put our faith in for survival are fragile, and the soft sand riddled with glass teeth not yet smoothed by the rocking tide. The closer you get to the sea, the more that is lost. Excitement and curiosity dance with unease and sadness as you float around the room. Through this Yvonne hopes to show the contrasting dualities of existence – the beauty that cannot exist without the terror – and find comfort in both, rather than attempt to hide the latter.

The deeply entangled historical relationship between glass and ceramic, in that one rarely exists without the other, adds to ideas of connection and narrative within the work. Through the curation of these different works alongside the drawing Yvonne hopes to create a line of flow that extends through the installation and into the public realm. Opening up the space in a non-conventional way, she hopes that people will feel free to explore and formulate a more personal response to the work.

Jenna Cawsey | MAFA Print Award

In Jenna’s work, whether it be painting, print, diorama or drawing, the subject of her interest is the atmosphere felt in the given environment. Although she creates mostly from observation the result is an augmented version of the source material whereby the memory and emotion of an experienced situation is positioned as the most important aspect to replicate.

When Jenna chooses to depict a scene it’s due to the emotional reverence it holds to her, and she aims to create an environment that the observer feels as sympathetic toward as she does.

Short film of Jenny Cawsey’s artwork within the Degree Show

This particular project revolves around Codden Hill, of Bishops Tawton, North Devon. Her inspiration is drawn from the emotional and physical impact she feels when standing on Coddens peak. The installation is a backlit panoramic painting from this point at dawn, the aim being to evoke the sensation of being there today.

The woodcuts shown depict various folk stories about the hill and surrounding village, these illustrations directly reference the pamphlet, which is displayed alongside them. It was written by a past resident of the village, Woutrina A. Bone, who lived in her house in the 1940’s.

Woutina collected the stories from people of the village and writes with a strong poetic affection. Jenna later found out that much of what Codden has supposedly seen over it’s many years isn’t factually accurate. But better than accuracy, it reflects how stories are told and shared, and creates a sentiment towards a place based on narrative.

Dominic Brooks | MAFA Drawing Award

Rachel Clancy | Outstanding Prize

Figurative Artist Rachel Clancy explores themes of illusion and trickery in capturing the unseen. Using oil paint on canvas and wooden surfaces, she focuses on interactions between hands and mundane objects to allow an audience to unfold their own narrative from the mysterious scenes. Reflected in her slow, intricate act of painting, she encourages the viewer to pause and contemplate when encountering the works, juxtaposing the present fast-paced, digitally influenced society. She creates illusionary surfaces of two dimensional imagery that are compromised by trickery in the glazes of transparent oil paint that infer depth and luminosity. Her exhibition series explore sleight of hand, and play with lighting to emphasise details within the compositions. Encountering the hidden paintings throughout the space mimics the deceptive nature of the works, and connections begin to form through their shared inherent oddity and cropped viewpoints.  

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