The Saul Hay Gallery and New Light have a common objective to celebrate the best in contemporary art across the region, and have once again kindly agreed to sponsor the Emerging Artist Award for the New Light Prize Exhibition.

We met up (virtually) with Ian Hay to ask him a few questions…..

What first attracted you to collaborate with New Light and how do you see the relationship developing in the future?

New Light is such a perfect fit with our own philosophy and desire to promote the art of the north of England. So when we were approached by the then Chair of New Light, Emerson Mayes, we were never going to refuse. Indeed it was a fantastic honour and privilege as well as great fun to be involved.

We are very proud to have been asked to continue our relationship with New Light as sponsors of the Emerging Artist Award. We hope we can build on the experience and the success we have had with inaugural winner, Deborah Grice, and that the Award, and the whole of the New Light programme, can continue to grow in influence and prestige.

Deborah Grice – Coastal Moonlight II

As sponsors of the Emerging Artist Award, artists are offered an opportunity to show in the Saul Hay Gallery. What do you think is the essence of this award and its value to the winning artist?

It is especially important to us that this award recognises and gives opportunities to artists in the earlier stages of their careers or who are returning to artistic practice after a break or other careers regardless of their age. We hope that the award and our involvement might encourage more such artists to push ahead and perhaps more arts prizes to recognise the importance of this group of artists.

We hope that any winner of this reward will feel that it is a recognition and acknowledgement of their work and that in turn will give them further encouragement in their artistic career. As a gallery we also hope that the Award itself and our involvement and support to the artist will generate wider interest in and sales of their work. We have been absolutely delighted with how things have worked out for the 2017 winner, Deborah Grice, with whom we are still working.

Steven Heaton – A time presents itself

Many New Light Artists have been showcased in your gallery including Mark Gibbs, Chris Cook, Deborah Grice, Steven Heaton, Mandy Payne and very recently Glenn Ibbitson to name but a few. How has your relationship developed with these artists?

We have worked with a number of artists who have been involved with and enjoyed notable success at New Light such as Christopher Cook, Mandy Payne, Josie Jenkins, Emma Lloyd and James Naughton.

Christopher Cook – Forbidden Fruit

Then there are artists whose work we have discovered directly through New Light. These relationships have led to a collaboration with Glenn Ibbitson to put on a George Orwell inspired exhibition, a solo exhibition of Christopher Cook’s works inspired by the Dutch Golden Age paintings in the York Art Gallery collection and a solo exhibition of Deborah Grice’s paintings as well as showing and selling work by artists such as Mark Gibbs, Alan Stones, Anthony Ratcliffe, and Anne Desmet RA.

Alan Stones – Father and Son

What would you say to encourage artists who are thinking about entering the New Light Prize Exhibition, why should they enter?

In my view the New Light Prize Exhibition is the single most important art prize that specifically recognises and celebrates the North of England. It’s prestige has grown year on year since its beginnings ten years ago. The opportunity to exhibit around the country in such amazing venues as Scarborough Art Gallery, Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery, The Biscuit Factory and the Bankside Gallery is second to none. We also hope and believe that the Saul Hay Emerging Artist Award can offer a fantastic opportunity to the winning artist.

Saul Hay Gallery will be opening its doors on 3rd June in accordance with Government guidance.  Visitors will be asked to practice physical distancing and  extra precautions will be taken, such as cleaning door handles and surfaces between visitors. 

Upon reopening  lots of new work including many pieces created during lockdown will be shown. It will be a fascinating insight into what artists have been doing in this enforced change of circumstances.