Eastbourne art gallery announces £10,000 prize

A film that was submitted to the Towner Eastbourne’s biennial contemporary art exhibition has won a prize of £10,000.

Tuesday, 1st June 2021, 1:05 pm

Brewers Decorators Centre and the Towner announced filmmaker Ayo Akingbade won the award for her film Dear Babylon and would also receive mentoring from the gallery team across next year.

Ayo, who is based in London, created a 20-minute film that was set in the East London.

In the film, a trio of art students raise awareness about their neighbourhood including the lives of people who live and work on the estate.

Towner Gallery, Eastbourne SUS-200709-121802001

The work is set against the backdrop of the future of social housing being threatened by a housing bill.

The decision to award Ayo was reached in consultation with the Brewers Award selection panel which includes Arts Council Collection director Deborah Smith, artist Anne Hardy and Brewers Decorator Centres chairman Mark Brewer.

Ayo said, “I’m so happy to be recognised for this inaugural prize, and to be supported with mentorship and money to develop my practice, it’s an absolute dream.”

Anne Hardy said, “Ayo’s film stood out for me for the way she skilfully suspends us in a shifting ground of fiction and fact, to explore pressing issues of housing and individual agency, and filmmaking itself.

“I am excited about the potential of the award to support this young artist in her next steps.”

The Towner’s director Joe Hill, said, “Congratulations to Ayo – we are thrilled to be able to award her for this moving piece of work, which was enjoyed so much by so many of our audience members in the gallery during Towner International, and which is an insightful comment on such a pressing issue of our times.

“Both myself and Noelle Collins look forward to developing our relationship with Ayo, an exciting and promising artist, and to supporting her in the coming year as mentors”.

Mr Brewer said, “The Brewers Award was established to recognise the important work of one of the exhibiting artists in Towner International and to support the continuation of their practice.

“It was fantastic to see such a variety of art on display from artists working locally, nationally and internationally.

“The exceptional skill of the exhibiting artists certainly made judging the award challenging.”

Arts Council Collection director Deborah Smith said, “The first Brewers Award is timely in supporting an early career artist after this exceptionally difficult year and I’m delighted that we awarded the prize to Ayo Akingbade who will shine bright.”