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Arts Society Connected hosts virtual exhibition in support of young artists




Eight young artists between the ages of 18 and 22 and from across the country have been shortlisted for The Arts Society’s Isolation Artwork Competition in support of young artists and students during lockdown. Their artworks form a virtual exhibition hosted on The Arts Society Connected website and members of The Arts Society, as well as members of the public, can vote for their favourite.

The 8 shortlisted artists were asked to respond to the theme of isolation and have produced new works that reflect the artists experience of lockdown. May of the works explore feelings of uncertainty, isolation, loneliness as well as nature, connection, and love, using subject matter ranging  from self-portrait to shielding loved ones, and materials ranging from acrylic to biro and pencil. 

Abigail McGourlay 20 from Sheffield painted a self-portrait titled PG Tips of herself drinking  a cup of tea in the bath, two things she has found comforting during lockdown. She said of the experience of painting during lockdown: “I've struggled with the current situation both mentally and physically. The uncertainty of lockdown put me in quite a stressful mindset and I found it, at first, difficult to feel motivated. But it is due to lockdown that I have rediscovered my love of painting. This piece captures a real moment of comfort, in both my two favourite things, a warm bubble bath and a hot cup of tea and in myself”


Annie Doran 19 from Cumbria was living in Canada and had to return home when lockdown started. Her piece My Future, explores the uncertainty for the post lockdown future coupled with the uncertainty of Brexit she says: “This drawing highlights feelings such as: betrayal, loneliness, letdown and isolation which many young people are experiencing.”

Ella Sambrook 19 from Colchester has noticed that lockdown and isolation has helped her to form a deeper connection to her natural surroundings. Inspired by Shinrin Yoku the ancient Japanese practice, known as ‘forest bathing’  Ella’s artwork is painted on tree stumps. She says: “Lockdown has inspired me to become more in touch with my surroundings, considering how the natural environment makes me feel and how we need to strive to protect it.”

Erin Hartnett 19 from Hertford was studying History at Leeds when lockdown started and she had to return home. She has drawn a series of sketches Hope and Resilience of loved ones using biro to bring a little happiness in this time of uncertainty. She says: “During this time many people will be missing their loved ones, as I am missing my grandparents and baby cousin. This piece was intended to spread some hope to those who are struggling to see the light at the end of the tunnel.”


Four other artists are also included in the shortlist for the award:  Indigo Price, 22 from London, Toby Richardson, 19 from Chichester, Sophie Meadows, 19 from Chichester and Emma Money, 18 from Harrogate. The shortlist was selected by a panel of judges including Rebecca Hossack, Charlie Waite and Dan Evans. The winner will be announced on 7th July following the public vote. The winner will have their artwork featured on The  Arts Society Membership card 2021, the winning artist will also receive a £50 Cass Art voucher. 

Members of the public wanting to vote for their favourite isolation artwork can do so here: https://www.connected.theartssociety.org/isolation-artwork-competition

Voting closes on 30 June 2020.


With 90,000+ members, the Arts Society is a leading arts education charity with a global network of over 380 local Societies, which bring people together through a shared curiosity for the arts and help to support young artists in the early stages of their career.  In April, The Arts Society launched The Arts Society Connected a digital platform with the aim of help older members of the population stay connected, educated, entertained and informed during lockdown.

Florian Schweizer, Chief Executive of The Arts Society:The Arts Society is delighted to be able to offer a virtual exhibition and competition to support young artists during lockdown. We want to recreate and promote a sense of community, belonging and connection during a time of isolation and distancing. We believe the arts have the power to bring people together, and we will not let this virus stop communities from enjoying the arts with each other.”