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Arts academic awarded national cultural prize


A Leeds Beckett University academic has spoken of his delight after being awarded one of the biggest cultural prizes in the UK worth £60,000.

Harold Offeh has won the Paul Hamlyn Foundation Award

Harold Offeh, 42, Reader in Fine Art, was presented with the Paul Hamlyn Foundation Award at a special ceremony on 13 November.

Ghanaian-born Harold, from Leeds School of Arts, was one of 10 visual artists and composers chosen by a panel of judges to receive the prize in recognition of their work.

He said: I’m extremely delighted to receive this award. The fact that I’ve been nominated by my peers, other artists and curators is very gratifying. The award gives me a slightly higher profile and with that comes greater visibility.

“The £60k is spread over three years, so there is an opportunity to think how best to use the money strategically to invest in time, research and the production of new projects.

“I just wanted to acknowledge that as an individual artist I’m supported by a big community of collaborators, supporters, friends and family.

“I would particularly like to thank our students and my good friends and colleagues on the Fine Art course and in the wider Leeds School of Arts at Leeds Beckett. Everyone is incredibly dedicated and committed and it’s a privilege to be part of this community of great artists and educators.”

Harold was awarded the coveted prize - which is celebrating its 25th anniversary - after being nominated by peers.

Launched in 1994, the awards support visual artists and composers with financial assistance "at a pivotal moment in their careers”.

Each award is £60,000 and is spread out over a three year period, with no obligations or conditions as to how the money is used.

Harold regularly works with young people, many from BAME and deprived backgrounds and has exhibited both in the UK and internationally.

Recent projects have explored encounters with museum objects and artefacts, forgotten queer histories and intersections of the body and technology.

Through performance, collaboration and conversation, he develops work that responds to places, situations and histories.

Speaking of the award win, Professor Simon Morris, Director of Research in Leeds School of Arts, said: “Harold’s use of Live Art as a strategy for cultural engagement has impacted on the lives and aspirations of many groups of young people and educators.

“This award is particularly coveted as there are no strings attached to how the money should be spent and this means it will allow Harold the invaluable space and time to develop his work.

“Aside from his contribution to current critical discourse in the arts, Harold is a popular teacher who is generous with the time, energy and intellectual ideas he shares with our students.

“I know this is a very popular win with staff and students across the School and that is testament to the quality of his work and the level of dedication he affords our students.

“This artist is making a positive difference to the lives of others.”

Since the inception of the awards, 175 artists have received a total of £7.2 million.

The ‘no strings attached’ approach gives artists the time and freedom to develop their creative ideas and to further their personal and professional growth.

Jane Hamlyn, Chair, Paul Hamlyn Foundation and Chair of the Visual Arts judging panel commented: “A lot has changed since we set up Awards for Artists 25 years ago, but one thing hasn’t changed – the environment for artists is tough.

“The PHF awards give exceptional artists and composers an invaluable space to concentrate on their work and imagine how it can find its place in the world.”

Harold Offeh. Photo Emile Holba 2019, courtesy Paul Hamlyn Foundation

 

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