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HomeNewsGraduate Wins Open Contemporary Young Artist Award
1 July 2019

Falmouth Stories

Graduate Wins Open Contemporary Young Artist Award

Juliet Gibbs only graduated from Fine Art in 2018, but she’s already flying high after winning the highly-competitive Open Contemporary Young Artist Award.

Open to artists 35 years or younger, the Open Contemporary Young Artist Award (OCYAA) is an opportunity for established and emerging artists to win £1000 and exhibit their work at The Biscuit Factory, the UK’s largest independent commercial gallery, in Newcastle.

When asked how it felt to win the award, Juliet said: “Honestly, it was a bit of a surprise! I had almost forgotten about the award and that I’d even sent my painting off (because life just gets in the way sometimes). Then I got the most lovely and heart-warming email from Sam, the curator at The Biscuit Factory. Winning an award for something you’ve made is a feeling I can’t really describe – except that it made me feel like I was on the right path.”

Since graduating from Falmouth, Juliet has been furiously painting and selling her work.

She told us: “It’s been a bit of a whirlwind really, but I’ve had my work shown in a number of group shows across the country, as well as successfully selling pieces online and to private buyers, which is always a bonus!”

Earlier this year, Juliet was also invited by UK Young Artists to exhibit three of her paintings in a large gallery space in Nottingham, as part of a giant biennale the organisation was hosting with 250 UK and international artists, called the Nottingham City Takeover.

Juliet recalled: “We spent the week there meeting other artists, watching shows and performances and taking part in workshops. From there, my work was picked to be part of another show as part of UK Young Artists called GRAFT, hosted at the Harris Museum in Preston. This has been my best career moment so far, because I actually got paid to have my work shown there – this was a first!”

When asked what advice she’d give to artists looking to follow in her footsteps, Juliet said: “Don’t give up on making. In dry spells or moments of doubt, it’s important to keep creating things – whether that’s sketches, models, or even just surrounding yourself with the art of others. When I’m in a rut, I go and look at art to inspire myself to pick up the paintbrush!

“One other thing I’d say is to keep applying for things. There are loads of competitions, residencies and awards you can apply for with your work and some are even free. The more stuff you go for, the more likely you’ll be given really amazing chances and opportunities.”

Juliet’s next step is her solo show, hosted by the Biscuit Factory as part of the OCYAA prize.

She told us: “I’m really excited because it’ll be my first solo show and it’s being hosted by a very supportive and well-established contemporary gallery. Having a show to work towards is definitely going to catapult me into make new work, so watch this space!"

The Newcastle OCYAA exhibition – featuring all the shortlisted artists – will run in the Newcastle Biscuit Factory until 25 August 2019. Entry is free.