Astrid Butt and Suman Shams shortlisted for the FUAM Graduate Art Prize 2022

Two BA Fine Art students, who graduated this year, have made it to the shortlist for the FUAM Graduate Art Prize 2022.

In its tenth year, the prize and exhibition – supported by the Friends of University Art & Music (FUAM) – rewards the artistic excellence of students completing BA studies in Fine Art and Art and Design at the University of Leeds in 2022.

Four finalists were selected by an expert panel of judges, based on work showcased in this year’s degree shows by graduating students from the School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies and School of Design.

The judging panel included Professor Jeff Grabill (Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Student Education, University of Leeds), Marianna Tsionki (Curator, Leeds Arts University), and Karen Watson (Artistic Director, East Street Arts).

The artists selected this year are: Astrid Butt and Suman Shams (BA Fine Art); Liv Hedges and Sunny Wong (BA Art and Design).

Work by all four shortlisted artists will be showcased in an exhibition at The Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery, which will open at a free preview celebration event on Tuesday 16 August.

This will be the first in-gallery exhibition for the FUAM Graduate Art Prize since 2019, and will be accompanied by the opportunity to view the works by the artists online.

Art installation including TVs and rug by Suman Shams

Suman Shams, But What's in a Name? 2022, installation view. © The artist

Astrid Butt and Suman Shams were amongst 63 artists from the School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies who showcased their work at their BA Fine Art Degree Show –Sitting With It – in June.

Astrid Butt’s video artwork takes a feminist perspective to express uniquely female anxieties with a particular focus on generational trauma and the terrors of the body.

Suman Shams, through her research-based practice, explores the different facets of her identity from a second generation British Pakistani to her digital identity as a Gen Z navigating the rapidly evolving technological landscape.

The judges will return in the autumn to choose the overall winner of the FUAM Graduate Art Prize 2022, which will be announced at an awards ceremony in October alongside the People's Choice Vote winner.

The 'Best in Show' graduating student artist of the year will receive £250. Each of the runners-up will receive £100 to aid them in their developing career as artists.

Screenshot of a video called Bird Diaries by artist Astrid Butt

Astrid Butt, Bird Diaries, 2022 (screenshot). © The artist.

Previous FUAM Graduate Art Prize winners from the School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies include artists Emii Alrai, Zoë Carlon, Hannah Marsh and Ibrahim Ince.

2021 winner, Ibrahim Ince, said:

“Being exhibited in the FUAM Art Prize Exhibition during the pandemic allowed me to be a part of a unique and innovative digital experience.

“Seeing my work on the Google Arts & Culture platform, alongside inspiring final year students, has fostered confidence in my practice and led to many invaluable networks as well as opportunities. Being able to hear the interpretation of diverse audiences on a subject matter so personal to me has been a very meaningful process.”

Since winning the prize, Ibrahim has been the Artist-in-Residence in an EU-funded research centre and shared his art practice as a guest speaker for the Barbican Centre and the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus. His research currently has taken on an anthropological turn with a continuous interdisciplinary interest in objects and heritage in his Material and Visual Culture Master’s at University College London.

Photo of Ibrahim Ince

Ibrahim Ince, FUAM Graduate Art Prize winner 2021, with all that is left of you (laid out on a table), 2021 (virtual reality space shown as HD video). © The artist 

Chris Taylor, Professor in Fine Art Practice in the School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies, said:

“Astrid and Suman continue in a tradition of our Fine Art students producing cutting edge and culturally significant work.

“Through performance and video, both artists have created engaging narratives which deal with contemporary concerns that are at once global and personal. These striking commentaries on the prevalent issues of the female body and identity provide a clear voice for others who struggle with, are affected by, or simply conflicted in such matters.

“In being shortlisted for the FUAM prize, Astrid and Suman’s works are evidence of the School’s continuing commitment to providing an environment for the development and making of art that is relevant to our times.”

Following the celebratory opening event on 16 August, this year’s FUAM Graduate Art Prize exhibition will be open from 17 August to 5 November, Tuesday to Saturday.

Full details can be found on The Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery website, including how you can vote for your favourite artist in the People’s Choice award.

Feature images

Left to right:

Astrid Butt, Bird Diaries, 2022 (detail). 1:1 digital film with audio and subtitles. © The artist.

Suman Shams, But What's in a Name? 2022 (detail). © The artist.