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BA Fine Art student Anna Jespersen wins £10,000 painting prize

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Credit: Paul Maheke, ‘A fire circle for a public hearing’ (2018). Installation view, Chisenhale Gallery, 2018. Produced by Chisenhale Gallery, London. Commissioned by Chisenhale Gallery and Vleeshal Center for Contemporary Art, Middelburg. Photo: Mark Blower.
Written by
Sarah McLean
Published date
09 June 2015

Last week Chelsea was visited by members of the Worshipful Company of Painters-Stainers, a city livery company who generously offered one a £10,000 bursary to a first year BA Fine Art student in recognition of their painting work.  The lucky recipient of this year’s award was Anna Jespersen, whose large-scale figurative drawings make use of painting and photography.

Her work was selected from that of five students in total in what the judges referred to as an extremely difficult choice.  Making the decision were: Ian Rowley, Clerk of The Worshipful Company of Painter-Stainers and artists Ken Howard RA and Ben Sullivan.

Speaking about her work after the announcement, she said: “I am interested in classical drawing and use a lot of references to film and literature – I usually have a hidden narrative within my work, and a lot of my work is portraits or about human nature in some way.”

(l-r) Ken Howard, Ian Rowley, Anna Jespersen and Ben Sullivan at Chelsea College of Arts in June 2015, photographed by Gavin Freeborn.

(l-r) Ken Howard, Ian Rowley, Anna Jespersen and Ben Sullivan at Chelsea College of Arts in June 2015, photographed by Gavin Freeborn.

Anna is originally from Denmark and came to the UK specifically to study art at UAL but she had not studied art at school.  “I have been drawing since forever!” she says. “I did foundation at Camberwell but before that I had never shown my work to anyone, so it was pretty crazy to be studying art as I had never done that before.”

Judge Ken Howard RA said he particularly liked Anna's portrait of a man in the bath. Photograph by Gavin Freeborn.

Judge Ken Howard RA said he particularly liked Anna’s portrait of a man in the bath. Photograph by Gavin Freeborn.

She described putting her application together for the foundation course: “My portfolio for foundation was stuff from my bedroom, just things I’d been drawing on my own. I didn’t know what a sketch book was… I always had this idea that [London] was a good place to do art. I guess I’m fascinated with the city. I’d done a lot of research about UAL and it seemed like a really good university – it’s definitely lived up to my expectations!”

Anna will receive the £10,000 reward over the next two years of study here at Chelsea, and said it will have a huge impact on her work, allowing her to buy materials as she completes her degree.  But in the meantime, there is the summer break to look forward to.

“I have an idea for a project I want to do this summer” she said. “You could see it as a translation between art forms: I want to do a chain of translations where I start by doing a drawing that I will give that to a friend who is a musician and he will do a sound piece in response to the drawing.  Then, I will give that to another friend who is a writer who will make a written response to the sound piece. I’m interested in how the different art forms connect and I’m excited about that.”

Related links:

BA Fine Art course page

Information about the Worshipful Company of Painters-Stainers