On the day we open our Call for Entries for the 2017/18 New Light Prize Exhibition, we celebrate the work of Mandy Payne who was awarded the £10,000 Valeria Sykes Award at the Bowes Museum at our last exhibition in 2015.

How long have you been a practising artist?
I have painted all my life but have only been working as a full time artist since 2012.

How did you first hear about New Light?
I think I first heard about New Light in 2013, but then the competition was only open to artists under 35. When I heard it was open to all ages in 2015, I started trying to create a body of work specifically for it.

What made you decide to enter the Prize Exhibition?
I liked its ethos – the fact that it aims to promote Northern artists.  I also looked at the judges and whether I thought my work would appeal to them.

Mandy at work in her studio

Mandy at work in her studio

What has winning the £10,000 Valeria Sykes Award meant to you?
Winning the Valeria Sykes Prize has been amazing (if a slightly surreal experience!) The Prize money has been invaluable in giving me the financial freedom to focus intently on my arts practice without the pressure of having to sell work. It has also meant my work has been seen by a much wider audience and it’s enabled me to meet some incredible Northern artists leading to further exhibiting opportunities and collaborations.

What are your artistic plans for the future?
I’m just coming to the end of a 27 month residency in stone lithography at Leicester Print Workshop. This has been a fantastic experience and I’m keen not to lose the skills I have learnt!

I intend to continue attending the studios in Leicester several times a month to keep my hand in, but I am also looking forward to spending a bit more time painting again.

Saltaire. Photo credit: The Walking Englishman

Saltaire. Photo credit: The Walking Englishman

If you had to recommend one place in the North for someone to visit, where would it be?
I love Sheffield, where I have lived for nearly 30 years – a really friendly, vibrant city with the wonderful Peak District National Park on its doorstep but would probably recommend Saltaire where I went to school, a World Heritage site with its beautiful Italianate architecture and peaceful, arty vibe.

If you could take one piece of artwork to a desert island, what would it be?
That’s not an easy one but probably a still life painting by Georgio Morandi. I love the way he used the same household objects as his subject matter over and over again, his muted palette and the quiet understated simplicity of his works.

Georgio Morandi, 'Natura Morta', 1951

Georgio Morandi, ‘Natura Morta’, 1951

Is there anything else you’d like to add?
The New Light Prize Exhibition provides a fantastic opportunity for Northern painters and printmakers to exhibit work in three prestigious Northern venues and also central London. I would heartily recommend artists to give it a go!

Mandy was selected as an artist to watch in 2017 by Rachel Cooke in The Observer’s 2017. More information on her work can be found at www.mandypayneart.co.uk

Enter the 2017/18 New Light Prize Exhibition here