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Posted 15.06.20

Painting, Drawing & Printmaking student wins Freelands Painting Prize 2020

By Naomi Girdler

The winning painting, 'Untitled' by Michael Hanrahan

BA (Hons) Painting, Drawing & Printmaking third-year student Michael Hanrahan, aged 24, has been selected as one of eight painters to be featured in the Freelands Painting Prize 2020 exhibition.

The Freelands Painting Prize celebrates outstanding painting practice at undergraduate level, culminating in an exhibition at the Freelands Foundation gallery in London. Inviting every higher education institution in the UK that offers a BA Fine Art or Painting course, a final year student is nominated to submit a piece of work for the prize, which can either be a painting or work exploring painting. 

All submissions are then reviewed anonymously by a judging panel of established art historians and painters such as Ben Street and Clare Woods as well as the Chair and Founder of Freelands Foundation Elizabeth Murdoch, who selected eight winners to take part in the exhibition in Autumn.

"It just goes to show never give up on what you think is a bad idea, someone may like it.”
- Michael Hanrahan, BA (Hons) Painting, Drawing & Printmaking student

Inspired by the likes of Hieronymus Bosch, Francisco Goya and Salvador Dali, Michael said: “I was actually lost for ideas and the piece I submitted was the only thing I had. I didn’t think much of it at the time. It just goes to show never give up on what you think is a bad idea, someone may like it.”

Joint Subject Leader for BA (Hons) Painting, Drawing & Printmaking Robert Manners said: “For one of our students to win the Painting Prize in its first year is a great achievement, especially with so many students and institutions involved in the competition. Michael is a focussed student with a great love of painting, so I’m thrilled his work made such an impression.”

Freelands Foundation was established in 2015 by Elisabeth Murdoch to support artists and cultural institutions, to broaden audiences for the visual arts and to enable all young people to engage actively with the creation and enjoyment of art. The foundation also plays a vital role in critical research, articulating the value that art and culture brings to society, provoking change and new ways of thinking and learning.

In 2017, ‘Thinking Making’ a Freelands Foundation film created by Henry Ward, focussed on Plymouth College of Art’s ethos of learning through making. ‘Thinking Making’ explores making as thinking within the extraordinarily diverse ecosystem of materials, technologies and processes that characterise the learning environment at the college and the ‘conversation’ between analogue and digital techniques.