The winner of the prestigious Midas Award was announced at a private view at the Millennium Gallery in St Ives, which also launched an art exhibition showcasing the work of all the finalists.
Linda Straehl was chosen from a shortlist of five artists, who have all recently graduated from Falmouth with a fine art degree. Linda was presented with the award at the Millennium Gallery on Friday 06 November by Steve Hindley, CBE, Chairman of South West construction firm The Midas Group.
Linda received materials or studio space worth up to £1,500 and a year’s mentoring from an art tutor based at Falmouth, before enjoying the opportunity to stage her own solo exhibition at, in alternate years, the Millennium Gallery or Newlyn Art Gallery.
Linda Straehl, said: “I feel very lucky to win the award, and especially the support that the award offers the winner. As a video maker I rely on equipment a lot, so being able to work closely with Falmouth University for another year now will allow me to create new work, which is very hard when you leave University. Many people find it difficult to continue their art after they graduate as they juggle a full or part time job. This will be great for my continued development as an artist.”
The Midas Art Award, now in its tenth year, is a joint initiative between Cornwall-based Midas Construction (part of the Midas Group), Newlyn Art Gallery & The Exchange, the Millennium Gallery in St Ives, and Falmouth University to help new and emerging artists succeed in the professional contemporary art world.
The award is sponsored by Midas Construction, a division of The Midas Group – one of the largest independent construction companies in the South West – which is committed to investing in the communities that it works in.
Steve Hindley, Chairman of The Midas Group, said: “People often ask me why Midas supports an art award. Our relationship with Cornwall goes back a long way, we have always played a key role in developing the infrastructure of the county, so being involved in its culture as well is very important and we are very proud of it. We have seen some incredible work this year and I congratulate Linda on her success. It’s also fantastic to see last year’s winner, Guido Lanteri Laura, back exhibiting his new work.”
Professor Anne Carlisle, VC & CEO, Falmouth University, said: “Ten years is a huge achievement. When this award began none of us could have anticipated what a key role the creative industries would now play in the UK economy. 1 in 5 jobs are in the culture and creative industries now, it’s a key contributor to the success of Britain. As the top Arts University in the UK, Falmouth University is delighted to have the support of Midas.”
Dr Ginny Button, Director, The Falmouth School of Art, Falmouth University, said: “An award like this is a great opportunity for Fine Art recent graduates to experience collaborating with a professional curator. Most importantly the Midas exhibition helps them start to develop an audience and a critical context for their work.”
The winner was chosen by a judging panel which included Dr Ginny Button; Tessa Purdy, Business Development Co-ordinator at Midas Construction Ltd; James Green, Director of Newlyn Art Gallery & The Exchange; Blair Todd, Exhibitions Curator and Deputy Director at Newlyn Art Gallery & The Exchange; Joseph Clarke, Gallery Director at the Millennium Gallery and independent curator, Kelly Taylor.
The five students from Falmouth University’s BA (Hons) Fine Art course shortlisted for the tenth Midas Award 2015 were Sean Fergus, Ross Gamble, Jessie Giudici Mumford, Hana Omori and Linda Straehl. The five finalists were selected from 51 entries, based on the strength of their degree show work.
In addition, last year’s winner, Guido Lanteri Laura, who is currently studying for an MA in Moving Image at the Royal College of Art, opened a solo show at the same exhibition.