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Two Northumbria Fine Art students amongst 10 shortlisted for the Woon Foundation Prize 2016

10th June 2016

The 10 finalists for this year’s prestigious Woon Foundation Painting and Sculpture Prize have been announced after a record number of applications.

Delivered jointly by Northumbria University, Newcastle, and BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, the Woon Foundation Prize is one of the UK’s most generous prizes for artists. The winners of this year’s prize will be revealed at a special exhibition preview and prize giving on Thursday 30 June 2015 in BALTIC's project space at BALTIC 39 on High Bridge in Newcastle city centre.

Hannah Barker 002 - EmbedThis year’s shortlisted artists have been selected by Christine Borland, who is a Turner Prize-nominated artist; Karen MacKinnon, Curator and Director, Artes Mundi; Laurence Sillars, BALTIC Chief Curator. Almost 300 artists submitted artwork for this year’s prize – the highest number since its launch in 2012 – with two Northumbria Fine Art students making the final shortlist – Hannah Barker and Sheyda Porter.

Hannah said: “To be nominated feels like a dream come true and I’ve enjoyed every second so far. My degree has brought me the knowledge, practical skills, and confidence necessary for future success, with the Woon Foundation Prize exhibition my first exciting step in the professional art world.”

Sheyda Porter 003 - EmbedSheyda added: “During this academic year, I have received much support from my tutors. They always encouraged me to take risks and push my ideas further, which I believe ultimately led to my nomination for the prize.”

The three major prizes awarded at this event are: a first prize bursary of £20,000, the 2016 Woon Fellowship, with additional prizes of £9,000 and £6,000. The 2016 Woon Fellow will have access to dedicated space in the BxNU institute at BALTIC 39 for the duration of the Fellowship, as they work toward a solo exhibition and publication.

Professor Christine Borland, who teaches in Northumbria’s Arts department, said: “It has been a very exciting year to be involved in shortlisting the Woon Prize, with a record number of entries and a really high standard.

“It’s particularly gratifying that the applications have represented all the countries of the UK; north, south, east and west. We are looking forward immensely to see the shortlisted work take shape in the exhibition and to choosing a winner to follow in the footsteps of the 2015/16 Woon Fellow, Kayt Hughes who has really made the most of her year.”

Sarah Munro, BALTIC Director added: “The Woon Prize is fast gaining a reputation as the most important award for graduates in Europe”. She continued “It’s wonderful to see a prize that truly puts the needs of (the next generation of) emerging artists at its centre. It will be exciting to see this new generation of talent exhibited in the project space at BALTIC 39. We also look forward to welcoming the new Woon Fellow into the region and vibrant artistic community in the North East of England.”

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For the second year, BALTIC’s project space at BALTIC 39 will present the annual Woon Foundation Painting and Sculpture Prize, a vibrant show by talented graduating artists from across the country. This unique and highly prestigious award, presented in partnership with Northumbria University, has been made possible by the Woon Foundation.

The Woon Foundation Painting and Sculpture Prize offers an exceptional opportunity for students currently in their final year of undergraduate study in the United Kingdom. The Woon Foundation kindly funds three major prizes and discretionary commendation prizes each year to the value of £40,000. The BxNU Institute for Contemporary Art at BALTIC 39 is the result of a collaborative partnership between BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art and Northumbria University.

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The Woon Prize was launched in 2012 and the inaugural winner was artist Holly Hendry who completed her Fellowship in September 2014. The next Fellow was Ramona Zoladek who held the Fellowship until September 2015. The current Fellow is Kayt Hughes, who recently met Mr Woon when he visited the UK this year. To find out more go to: or

The Woon Prize 2016 final shortlist in alphabetical order is:

Hannah Barker | Northumbria University
Joseph Davies | Slade School of Fine Art
Jake Grewal | University of Brighton
Rebecca Halliwell-Sutton | Manchester School of Art
Melloney Harvey | University of the Arts / Camberwell College of Art
BexIlsley | Manchester School of Art
Holly Muir | Ruskin School of Art
Sheyda Porter | Northumbria University
James Trundle | Slade School of Fine Art
Jake Vella | University for the Creative Arts, Farnham

Northumbria offers a range of courses in the arts and was recently rated Top 10 in the UK for Arts and Design research power following the Research Excellence Framework 2014. Northumbria offers a range of courses in the arts and was recently rated Top 10 in the UK for Arts and Design research power following the Research Excellence Framework 2014. To find out more about studying at Northumbria go to: or sign up for one of our upcoming Open Days

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