The Red Mansion Art Prize 2018

The Winners of the Red Mansion Art Prize 2018 were:

Ibrahim Cisse Royal College of Art
Paula Morison Slade School of Fine Art
Alistair Debling Ruskin School of Fine Art
Rachel Cheung Goldsmiths College
Joe Richardson Central Saint Martins
Ant Hamlyn Chelsea College of Arts
Debora Delmar Royal Academy Schools

The judges of the 2018 Red Mansion Art Prize were:

Lisa Panting Director at Hollybush Gardens
Ceri Hand Director of Programme at Somerset House
Andrew Renton Independent Curator and Lecturer at Goldsmiths
Sonya Dyer Artist
Nicolette Kwok Director of the Red Mansion Foundation.

Nicolette Kwok


Nicolette Kwok presenting the Red Mansion Art Prize to Joe Richardson
from Central Saint Martins. Photograph by Belinda Lawley.

The Red Mansion Art Prize 2017

Rosa Johan Uddoh Slade School of Fine Art
Hannah Oram Ruskin School of Fine Art
Sonia Bernac Royal College of Art
Laura Yuile Goldsmiths College
Dejan Mrdja
Central Saint Martins
Marie-Aimee Fattouche Chelsea College of Arts
Eva Gold Royal Academy Schools

The judges of the 2017 Red Mansion Art Prize were:

Robin Klassnik Director of Matt’s Gallery, London
Lisa Le Feuvre Head of Sculpture at Henry Moore Institute, Leeds
Alison Wilding Artist
Emma Ridgeway
Curator, Modern Art Oxford
Nicolette Kwok Director of the Red Mansion Foundation.

An exhibition showcasing the works created by the finalists as a result of their experience was organised by The Royal College of Art School of Art.

The exhibition was held at Hockney Gallery, RCA, London, from 23rd March through to and including 28th March 2018.

The Red Mansion Art Prize 2016

Alvaro Barrington
Slade School of Fine Art
Olivia Rowland The Ruskin School of Art
Natalia Skobeeva Royal College of Art
Katie Hare Goldsmiths
Mustafa Boga Central Saint Martins
Ishita Chelsea College of Arts
Jack Burton Royal Academy Schools

The judges of the 2016 Red Mansion Art Prize were:

Prof Paul Goodwin UAL Chair of Black Art and Design; Director of TrAIN (Centre for Transnational Art, Identity and Nation)
Jemima Stehli Artist
Rosza Farkas Director of Arcadia Missa Gallery
Ingrid Swenson Director of Peer Gallery
Nicolette Kwok Director of the Red Mansion Foundation

An exhibition showcasing the works created by the finalists as a result of their experience was organised by The Ruskin School of Art, University of Oxford.

The exhibition was held at Kendrew Barn at St John’s College, Oxford, from Saturday 25th March through to and including Friday 31st March 2017.

The Red Mansion Art Prize 2015

Maud Craigie Slade School of Fine Art
Mark Mindel Ruskin School of Art
Nicole Vinokur Royal College of Art
Andrew Sunderland Goldsmiths College
Hyeji Woo Central Saint Martins
Tess Kamoen Chelsea College of Arts
Evelyn O’Connor Royal Academy Schools


The judges of the 2015 Red Mansion Art Prize were:

Nicolette KwokDirector of the Red Mansion Foundation
Penny JohnsonDirector of the Government Art Collection
Jenni LomaxDirector of the Camden Arts Centre
Andrew StahlSenior Lecturer and Head of Undergraduate Painting, Slade School of Fine Art

An exhibition of the works produced by the artists following their time in China was held at the Triangle Space & Cookhouse, Chelsea College of Arts from 16 March – 22 March 2016.

A special exhibition of the diaries, created by winners from the past ten years of the Red Mansion Prize, was also displayed at the Chelsea Old Library.

The Red Mansion Art Prize 2014

ADAM TYLICKI Central Saint Martins
CADI FROEHLICH Chelsea College of Arts
ALIA PATHAN Goldsmiths College
JULIE BORN SCHWARTZ Royal Academy Schools
DOMINIC HAWGOOD The Royal College of Art
EMILY MOTTO The Ruskin School of Art
TRISTAN BARLOW Slade School of Fine Art

The judges of the 2014 Red Mansion Art Prize were:

Nicolette Kwok Director of the Red Mansion Foundation
Kirsty Ogg Director at Bloomberg New Contemporaries
Michael NewmanArt critic and Historian
Matt WilliamsArtist
Carey YoungArtist

Nicolette Kwok, Director of The Red Mansion Foundation discusses the Red Mansion Art Prize on London Live [London Go; Episode 3. Broadcast 20th March 2015 on London Live]

Red Mansion Art Prize Exhibition details

The Red Mansion Art Prize 2013

TOM RAILTON Chelsea College of Art & Design
SUNG EUN CHIN Goldsmiths College
CAROLINE ABBOTTS The Royal Academy Schools
ABIGAIL SIDEBOTHAM The Royal College of Art
JAKOB ROWLINSON The Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art
IMRAN PERRETTA The Slade School of Fine Art


The judges of the 2013 Red Mansion Art Prize:

Nicolette KwokDirector of The Red Mansion Foundation
Tessa JacksonChief Executive, INIVA
Stephanie RosenthalChief Curator at the Hayward Gallery
Alison TurnbullArtist

About the artists


The focus of Ghazaleh Avarzamani’s works revolves around conceptions and applications of Craft and Artisanal modes of production and their relevance and influence in contemporary culture. Through her practice as an artist, she investigates the notion of modernism and its apprehension of craftsmanship, decorativeness and domestic art. Issues like material, technology, ornamentation and originality of medium have always made her question the conventions of aesthetic. She comes from an Eastern culture that has a long history with craftsmanship. For her, approaching the domestic materials and skills is a challenging endeavour. Although those skills and mediums could be considered art in their own context, she is interested in de-contextualizing them and recycling them into a new form of art in contemporary sense. Ghazaleh Avarzamani graduated from Central Saint Martins and currently works between London and Tehran.


Born in Coventry, Tom Railton studied and worked in Leeds until moving to London to take his Postgraduate Diploma at Chelsea College of Art and Design in 2011. Awarded the Patrick Caulfield Scholarship for MA Fine Art study, he graduated the following year, receiving the 3rd annual GAM Gilbert de Botton Art Prize.

He lives and works in London, combining a multidisciplinary practice with recent appointments at the University of Westminster and The Royal College of Art’s Sculpture Department. He was featured in the inaugural St.Vincent European Art Prize and the Catlin Guide to emerging artists (2013), and was joint winner of the Workweek Prize for the solo presentation ‘Augury’ at 38b.


Sung Eun Chin’s work attempts to reinterpret a range of issues of contemporary time through her fictional world. Whilst her inventive tale, Here Is the New World, Wonkii, has intimated her contemplation on modern media that sustain contemporary myth, her recent work investigates how to visualise extended imagination induced by written work by establishing relation between the language of manga and other visual sources, orienting towards the combination of literary inspiration and visual experience.

Born in 1984 in South Korea, Chin completed BA Fashion Design at Hong-ik University in Korea in 2008 and Postgraduate Diploma Fine Art at Chelsea College of Art and Design in 2012 and is doing a degree on MFA Fine Art at Goldsmiths, University of London. Currently she is leading a multidisciplinary project team, TodayAnd, which runs projects exploring pluralistic relation among various spheres of art.


Born in 1988 in Derbyshire, Abbotts studied on an undergraduate BA in Fine Art at Central Saint Martins, she is currently studying at the Royal Academy Schools.

In her work, she uses the natural world to collect information often this is in relation to the scientific. Her projects often begin with selecting and bringing back information from a site – data that belongs to a moment or a place. She is interested in creating a materiality from moment, and she uses technologies as tools to filter, collect and capture information. She works with both the photographic image and sculpture.


Abigail Sidebotham (b. 1985, Wales) is a multi media artist based in London. Her practice includes works with drawing, text, performance, photography and artist film. She earned her Fine Art Masters from the Royal College of Art in 2013. Her work has been exhibited internationally in exhibitions at HotShoe Gallery, London, Altitude 1000+ Festival, Switzerland and DOX Centre for Contemporary Art, Prague at which her work received an honorary mention. Blackdog publishers and Channel magazine have printed her work.


Jakob Rowlinson (b.1990) is a graduate of the Ruskin School of Art. He works with performance, video and printed media. His practice explores human facial expressions and body language, and relies upon actors, performers and willing volunteers to produce his work. He creates various forms of instructions about these performances – written, drawn or spoken – which must be carefully deciphered and followed in order to be performed. In this way the artist’s role becomes one of conductor, puppeteer and magician, and the faces and bodies of his volunteers are used as instruments to be watched and interpreted.


‘I am queuing to see Mao’s remains in Beijing. It is the hottest July for several decades.
As the line moves closer, I shuffle onwards.
Tourists stroll languidly while I limp.
Everyone else seems fine.
I am learning about my prejudices.
I am violently aware of my Western sensibilities.
My relationship with my Eastern heritage is becoming messier.
I am no nearer to knowing how I feel about anything.’

Encompassing moving image, performance, installation and drawing, Imran Perretta’s work seeks to meditate on notions of loss, identity and the passing of individual and cultural histories. Based in London, he is currently completing the final year of his MFA at the Slade School of Fine Art.

The Red Mansion Art Prize 2012

MARTIN CORDIANO Central Saint Martins
HANA JANECKOVA Chelsea College of Art & Design
CHOTERINA FREER Goldsmiths College
ANDREW MEALOR The Royal Academy Schools
ELIZABETH GOSSLING The Royal College of Art
SHAKYRA CAMPBELL The Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art
TEO ORMOND SKEAPING The Slade School of Fine Art



During my residency in Beijing I based my research on the streets and layers of activities that you could perceive on them. A particular way of advertisement especially caught my attention. These provisional advertisements are black ink marks left on the city’s walls by workers to promote (illegally) their activities using rubber stamps that specify their trade and their phone number. These advertisements are subsequently covered with grey paint by the Chinese government, leaving the city’s walls covered by grey patches. I decided to produce something as a gesture that allowed me, using the same visual language, to introduce my mark in this endless socio-economic circuit generated by these two antagonistic forces.


LindYan posted 5 months ago

‘Dear Lee Kit,
We’re sorry to leave House M exactly as it had been when we arrived two nights ago. It’s midday now and I’m leaving, having noticed we’ve hardly moved a single object. Even chairs remain exactly where you placed them–viewing platforms for your paintings. When I was packing, thoughtlessly I’ve arranged multi-coloured shampoo bottles exactly as they had been on our arrival.’

(House M, Vitamine Creative Space, Beijing)

Hana Janečkova’s practice draws on the imagination of fictional meetings, online posts and consumerist objects materialising in works posed between the robust autonomy and fragile presence. ‘Soft Power‘ is a constructed as a series of ‘encounters’ in the near future inspired by bright coloured street screens around Beijing; staged as a propaganda and camouflage at the same time.


You Have the Right to Your Attention


Often I would sit in Starbucks, something I would never do in London. The young Chinese employees all wore badges that had generic Western names on them such as Peter, Anne, Michael and Sarah. They would speak English to the Western customers. Starbucks was situated in the courtyard of the Sanliton Village Shopping & Lifestyle Centre. The cynical feeling I would get being inside the SVS&LC was familiar and comforting. Sometimes I would walk into Uni Qlo and just stare at all the coloured socks.


In Beijing, I experienced restiveness between the city’s traditional and modern identities. A traditional Chinese system of display ‘the scroll’, has become ‘scroll bar’ – hand icons grab images, slide images, pan across, drag them up and down. I spent time scanning, filming and photographing public and domestic LCD screens and generated a small archive of digital ephemera. These transitory images accumulated a sensation of the city’s visual culture. Inspired by J.G Ballard sci-fi Four Dimensional Nightmare and Retro-Futurism, I wanted to explore the rapid flow and life cycle of these digital images. Futuristic visions of the unknowable, incomprehensible and mysterious, evaporate from screens and condense into nostalgia. Sepia extends into Luminescence. ‘Output’ quickly becomes ‘Outmode’.


ntrigued by Beijing’s fast paced environment through the infrastructure that is continuously modified and rebuilt, which almost buries its population. I was faced with the paradox of being enclosed, confined and yet feeling a sense of freedom as I wondered around identified as the unknown. I played on these feelings and entered territories of worship an atmosphere unlike no other in Beijing, where humans connected with a greater power that I could not fathom. But what happens when one comes not to worship and instead reacts to the paradox that they first encountered…I present Crossing (You don’t love me).


I feel that the experience has given me a very different insight into the nature of developing global culture and its pitfalls, I no longer feel bound by race or origin but part of a global community. It allowed me to experience both human and geological landscapes that I could never have imagined, evoking a certain awareness of the privilege position within which I exist. And yet the beauty and simplicity of self-sufficiency still practiced by many of the rural communities I saw seemed to suggest a long lost sense of purpose. I now have much to think about as an artist.

Red Mansion Art Prize Exhibition details

Click here to see photographs from the Private View

The Red Mansion Art Prize 2011

ALEXANDER BALL The Slade School of Fine Art
KIRA FREIJE The Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art
ADHAM FARAMAWY The Royal Academy Schools
REHANA ZAMAN Goldsmiths College
GIUSY PIRROTTA Central Saint Martins
ANDREA FRANCKE Chelsea College of Art & Design
YELENA POPOVA Royal College of Art



My current work and research explores tensions and slippages between pictorial and physical space. Working mainly with the mediums of painting and print I am fascinated on the one hand by their qualities of flatness, and on the other by their haptic, tactile potential. Following my stay in Beijing over the summer my work underwent a number of developments. Working in a city that seemed to be in a state of flux, I began to develop a more immediate way of generating ideas and making work. My usual, time-consuming method of drawing and painting has been expanded to incorporate the use of objects, photography and found imagery. The art as well as the landscape of Beijing expanded my awareness of materials and helped me to think about how I could introduce various tempos to the experience of looking at my work.


The tourist is temporary. When the encounter wears off you are left with a newcomer or novice. Prevailing until complacency sets in, until you no longer see what is in front of you. We appreciate what we do not have. There is magic in uncertainty because what is uncertain is still possible. The work tries hard, picking up trends along the way. Sometimes it manages. No one notices if it is nervously pretending. It attempts to show you what you want to see, what it thinks you think is cool, what you have almost seen before. If it sits on the periphery, not quite fitting in, it may gain integrity from a liminal condition. Fear is dishonest when it leads to pretense. Procrastination is indulgent when it derives from anxiety. Hiding is desertion when driven by trepidation. Wishing it were upstanding, it trips up over its own morals, full of excuses.


I often make video works that are the culmination of research projects concerned with the occult, extreme science and mythology. My proposal for the Red Mansion was designed to offer a new way for me to create work, something less speculative and more observational. I had been looking at the Beijing based architecture firm M.A.D. whose project for the 2008 Venice Biennale, titled ‘Superstar’, proposed a monolithic mobile China town. I saw images on blogs and web magazines showing CGI models of the building transposed over familiar images of cities I’ve visited and lived in. This future facing science fictive project encouraged me to propose a simple urban observational photographic project, which has introduced a new strain into my practice. The photographic works I’ve produced as a result of the Red Mansion residency function as an ongoing investigation into performativity, consensus, belief systems and the unnerving quality of Utopic propositions


“China—the name alone—works not simply as a single vision of otherness, but as something like a Borgesian library, full of books with the same name but different texts.” – Eric Hayot in ‘Chinese Dreams: Pound, Brecht, Tel quel’ Rehana Zaman examines the possibilities for agency within social structures; inventing fictions, isolating historical moments and drawing on personal accounts, to convey how a set of relations might be embodied.


My work is related to the manipulation of moving image and its representation code. An essential part of my research concerns the study of landscape and the thematic of journey as an inner life-space. I am exploring new narration form working on multi-channel video installation in relation to time-phenomenology and physical installation space. I am interested in subverting the boundary between production and postproduction through structural intervention, analysing the nature of moving image and its and ephemeral status as a light projected in terms of light consistence and the strong relationship with the equipment used in the space. It is impossible to explain what was the impact of a city like Beijing on me. Something unforgettable in terms of the preciosity of landscape. Vast lands, endless avenues, flat and green rivers, the biggest diameter of red sun at the sunset never seen cycling towards home, the blurry atmosphere of the skyline. I have never experience such a kind of saturation in colours and that surreal nightlight. It was like being in a movie in every moment.


On a surreal night in Beijing we met Xu Xing. He toured us around Beijing in search of a DVD player to show us “5 + 5”, his and Andrea Cavazzuti new documentary on Songzhuang , the village of the painters, and Lao Jin, a local cab driver. We began by borrowing a player at a gallery in 798. They had to close so we moved to the Gao Brothers’ bar. Built after the government prohibited them to have visitors on their art studios, it had been shut down by government officials, resting empty but fully functional. Their DVD player stopped working. We crossed the city to the diplomatic neighbourhood where we finished watching the movie in the home office of a Hong Kong newly emigrated business couple. It all ended with us trying to convince a cab to take us to Cao Chang Di at 2:00 am. It took us almost 2 hrs to get home.


The image was vivid, as if East reflected West in a giant mirror. Everything looked exotic, but familiar at the same time: skyscrapers, roads, cars, bars and shopping malls. The air was tangible. Just like Turner – you could paint it. The heavy milky-grey haze itself was a landscape. A landscape composed of car and coal emissions, dust, dirt and the breathing of millions in the damp air. Hardworking Beijing was sweating daily and it was visible. Shan Shui is traditional Chinese landscape painting. There is a set of rules for balance, composition and form which are applied to a distinct, vertical format. According to Walter Benjamin: ‘The task of the translator consists in finding that intended effect upon the language into which he is translating, which produces in it the echo of the original’. An echo… a mirror… tang… tangible…

The Red Mansion Art Prize 2010

ELAINE MULLINGS The Slade School of Fine Art
PRIYESH MISTRY The Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art
KATE LISTON The Royal College of Art
LAURA MORRISON Goldsmiths College
KIM KIELHOFNER Central Saint Martins
LINDSEY BULL Chelsea College of Art & Design
RACHAEL CHAMPION The Royal Academy Schools



My practice is largely concerned with the shifting value of things. It also stems from a fascination with the transformative potential of mundane materials and the impact of light on form, surface and space. I create work that aims to challenge ideas that define what is valuable, beautiful or useful. In manipulating and reworking them, I aim to re-present materials that linger in the background of our everyday landscape, creating new forms and physical interventions that reveal the poetics of very simple things.

Beijing has had a lasting impact on me; the enticing smells of street food in the village of Cao ChangDi; the vibrant colour palettes of neon, hutongs and temples – reds, blues, turquoise and gold; the flowing masses of people moving through the city and the thrilling sense of organised chaos. I am excited by the body of work that is evolving from this experience – an experience which has given me the chance to draw on a very different everyday.


China was a place to explore with no previous personal connection. An alien landscape to navigate and attempt to comprehend. I came back with an image of a society of tremendous growth and big objectives. These aspirations were everywhere – in the images and designs that pass by day to day, the sizable art and gallery spaces, even with the Mandarin dialect in the lack of a direct translation for ‘no’. Compromises are always made when communal ambitions develop in every culture, but even as Beijing continues to push its economy to the disadvantage of some of its people, I found common desires were still projected and shared – including by me at one time unconnected.


My work is related to the manipulation of moving image and its representation code. An essential part of my research concerns the study of landscape and the thematic of journey as an inner life-space. I am exploring new narration form working on multi-channel video installation in relation to time-phenomenology and physical installation space. I am interested in subverting the boundary between production and postproduction through structural intervention, analysing the nature of moving image and its and ephemeral status as a light projected in terms of light consistence and the strong relationship with the equipment used in the space It is impossible to explain what was the impact of a city like Beijing on me. Something unforgettable in terms of the preciosity of landscape. Vast lands, endless avenues, flat and green rivers, the biggest diameter of red sun at the sunset never seen cycling towards home, the blurry atmosphere of the skyline. I have never experience such a kind of saturation in colours and that surreal nightlight. It was like being in a movie in every moment.


There were photographs I wanted to take: normal for China, exotic on facebook. Tempted, thought about it, decided not to, felt good about myself.

Is bad art: not taking the photo and telling everyone that’s what you did?
What about really taking the photo?
Thank you Caochangdi.


In her practice, Kim Kielhofner picks out the fibres of narratives in the tapestry of her environment. Working with the collection of images and sounds from archives as well as continuously creating her own, she interrogates the subject/spectator. The narratives that she uses come from diverse cultural sources and work with these forms to create her video works. In China she became particularly interested in the form of the documentary and the spy movie along with the observing human interactions of everyday life.


Sitting in Jingshan Park in central Beijing I was struck by a revelation; the clarity of the moment – life is happening. This is it. Imagery overflowed and humanity pressed itself very close. The intensity of understanding the importance of the moment has permeated the evolution of the paintings made in response to the residency in China. I found myself time-travelling through history, oscillating between Chinese mythology, religious rituals and folklore. Following this path my investigation has continually intersected and eventually became overlaid with my continued research into western mythology and English traditions ultimately this forms a language exploring the mystery of rituals.


My installation/sculptural practice investigates humanities shifting and uncertain relationship with technology and the natural world. It is driven by a reverence for the utilitarian infrastructure of our man-made environment and our attempts to understand, utilize, and control natural phenomena. I employ information from a diverse field of knowledge including science, architecture, and ecology to describe the intricate overlaps of our physical environment. The work employs constructs of fiction to address the symptom of believing the information we are given verse the perception of our own experience.

China’s unprecedented economic and industrial growth has fundamentally transformed its landscape. The tenuous relationship China has to its natural resources seems to know no boundaries. The scale and magnitude of this environmental relationship echoes globally. Witnessing the effects of this monumental production and consumption of energy has been formative to my practice both materially and conceptually.

The Red Mansion Art Prize 2009

SAAD AHMED QURESHI The Slade School of Fine Art
ELIZABETH PORTER The Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art
SABINA DONNELLY The Royal College of Art
UNA KNOX Goldsmiths College
KEH NG Central Saint Martins
PIPPA GATTY Chelsea College of Art & Design
ESMERELDA VALENCIA The Royal Academy Schools

The Red Mansion Art Prize 2008

BENJAMIN JENNER The Slade School of Fine Art
MIMI NORRGREN The Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art
RICHARD HEALY The Royal College of Art
IAN GONCZAROW Goldsmiths College
BARBARITA CARDOZO Central Saint Martins
BRONWEN BUCKERIDGE Chelsea College of Art & Design
JACK NEWLING The Royal Academy Schools



Object and User / Ergonomic Use Value / Returned / Potential / Structure / Pushing and Pulling Objects / Retained / Language / Objects Used and Used Again / Thrown Away / The Colour


While in Beijing I strove to experiment with new information and environment to find my individual aesthetic. I continued to travel further, with a hunger for China’s diversity of culture and landscape in an attempt to understand the country as a whole and through its different provinces engage performatively with its extreme journey. I felt confronted by a continuous contradiction between control and freedom, tradition and the modern, the old and the young, the past and the future. I am obsessively involved in sculpture because it allows me to understand the world while touching it. My work is tugged between sculptural object and performative action.


What strikes you immediately about Beijing and much of China is its scale; from its buildings and public spaces to its landscape and history. The size of it dwarfs you. What is astonishing is that the vastness of edifice is in a state of total flux as China surges with a programme of modernisation.


What do you want to say about China? I thought before I went that the decision would be quite straightforward. I wanted to comment on pollution, human rights abuses, Tibet, the economic boom and history. But on returning and beginning to paint out theses issues it became apparent that it’s all too easy to make prissy didactic statements. One of the most interesting things about China is my sense as a westerner of the regime and what it might be capable of.


Guohuas (woodblock prints) were the most prolific propaganda art tool produced during the Chinese Cultural Revolution. Artists created a pictorial iconography of the Maoist period with prints covering nationalistic themes produced cheaply and on massive scale, using mainly three colours: black, red and white. Artistically, these prints were influenced by the Chinese folk tradition but ideologically they adhered to strict political and propaganda requirements. Cardozo has used fake period propaganda prints, popular for their kitsch-cool, to produce traditional Chinese paper cuts. Although Cardozo has copied the visual style of Chinese paper cut patterns, she has ‘pimped out’ the posters with central motive logos of some of most famous major fashion labels such as Gucci, Chanel, and Prada. With this she present us with a double reflection: firstly, she calls our attention to those labels unfamiliar in China twenty year ago but which nowadays have become staples of Chinese urban consumers; and secondly, she points out the paradoxical fact that China is also the biggest centre of counterfeiting goods of those very well-known American and European fashion brands. Extract from text by Ramiro Camelo.


Chinese opera was almost destroyed during the Cultural Revolution when it was reduced from over 300 regional forms to just 8 model plays. Today it is an ongoing work of cultural reinvention. Lacuna cut, 2008, features a troupe of actors as they paint their faces and prepare to go on stage. The camera stops and lingers on small gestures, while incidental noise is magnified and collaged together with sounds from the mythical operatic plots and aspects of contemporary Chinese life. Neither document nor fictional narrative, the film restages this private ritual as a performative act. It offers moments of transformation and disintegration – a slippage between interior and exterior worlds, actor and character, preparation and performance.


Since coming back from China I have made work revolving around thoughts I was having about redundancy, INDUSTRY AND DESIGN. About blindness, floors, walls and opticality. About ideas around multiples and singularities, artisans and industrialists, about being tired and strange and about being stoic and full of wonder.

The Red Mansion Art Prize 2007

EMMA WOLUKAU WANAMBWA The Slade School of Fine Art
NATHALIE GUINAMARD The Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art
DAISY RICHARDSON The Royal College of Art
HELENA HANS Goldsmiths College
SERGIO CRUZ Central Saint Martins
JANKO MATIC Chelsea College of Art & Design
PETROS CHRISOSTOMOU The Royal Academy Schools



During the time I spent in Beijing, I built up a collection of images from Chinese newspapers. I was interested in what the press chose to show and the negative views, particularly in relation to the 2008 Olympics, that they aren’t permitted to print. The collage work that I have created as a result combines imagery from China and England, reflecting the influence of Western culture onto Chinese. My work is a reaction to experiences and plays with metaphors and turns of phrase.


In Beijing, I spent a lot of time walking around looking at building sites. I was handed many leaflets with photgraphs and details of newly or nearly erected constructions promising “a luxury lifestyle” and other enticing possibilities. Some of my drawings use the buildings from these leaflets, cut out and drawn around. The interior is then converted into the scaffolding or earth pile covers that the buildings would have initally emerged from. It was fascinating to spend time in a city in the throes of such a radical transformation and to see the cityscaspe as it realigns itself.


In Beijing, I was constantly seeing contrasts, old buildings next to new, authentic next to simulation. Out of the arrangements of bricks and workers with picks and shovels, white cubes emerged, whole new districts dedicated to art production. I felt a sense of spontaneity; it required a certain special attitude just to navigate the streets. It was amazing that despite the density of traffic and pedestrians, despite the apparent chaos, a certain order emerged. If my work was influenced by the experience, it was by the sense of co-existent layers. By this I mean the extreme contrast of different worlds next to each other.


In China, culture and the arts are very closely linked to people and their lives. The street life in Beijing is a 24 hour live show full of music, dance and sports. During the residency, I was observing Chinese Life, collecting “road images”, documenting quotidian performances. Whilst there, I saw a city that is literally exploding, in early transition from the ancient to the modern, adding skyscrapers and other buildings at a breakneck pace. The skyline of the city was revised every few months.


If a tree falls in the woods and there is nobody around to hear it, does it make a sound?


My experience in Beijing was of an ever expanding megalopis, both physically, culturally and politically, and this made for an experience that was extrememly fertile to my practice. As the workshop of the world, I felt seduced by China’s consumerist produce, and the way in which any one item ranging from toothpaste to livestock would have an ambiguous value that would always change through a transitional process and the context that they found themselves in. In theory, the objects arguably have no value, they are priceless, the utilitarian, social and monetary qualities are open to speculation.

The Red Mansion Art Prize 2006

PHILIPPA HADLEY CHOY The Royal College of Art
ANTHONY FRANCIS The Royal Academy Schools
FLORENCIA GUILLEN The Slade School of Fine Art
LIZI SANCHEZ Goldsmiths College
LIZ MURRAY Chelsea College of Art & Design
OLIVER SMITH The Ruskin School of Drawing & Fine Art



“When, lo, as they reached the mountain-wide;
A wondrous portal opened wide,
As if a cavern was suddenly hollowed;
And the Piper advanced and the children followed,
And when all were in to the very last,
The door in the mountain-side shut fast.”
Robert Browing, The Pied Piper of Hamelin, 1888
Making sculpture in China was hard, but the mountains were easy.


The residency in Beijing gave me the opportunity to immerse myself into the Chinese use of colour. In the 2nd and 4th centuries the notion of ‘Colour harmony’ was developed by the Chinese and meant an orientation towards five basic colours. The use of colour in Modern day Beijing is less adhering to such a chromatic system and is eclectic in its sampling of western influence but also the developing open market. Shop signs scream out there products through clashing complimentary colours mounted on plastic. The palette of choice amongst artists however seems to be soft washed colours reminiscent of the 1950’s cigarette advertising and propaganda posters.


In KTV, I collaborated with the workers of a Beijing market to create a video made out of elements of the location. I made a questionnaire in which she asked all the workers of the market to write their favourite song. Then I bought a promotional DVD for DVD players sold there to make a music video for the most popular song in the questionnaire. To link the viewer to the project, I translated the words of the Chinese song into English phonetics which appear as subtitles so that the viewer can sing along.


“China is forever linked to its ancient civilization, friendly people, and many of the world’s most revered treasures, such as The Great Wall, Terra-Cotta Warriors & Horses and the Yangtze River . Today, one can also find spectacular architecture and towering skylines in Shanghai and Beijing (site of the 2008 Summer Olympics), a wealth of luxury accommodations – and as always – exquisite cuisine. Come and see why China is drawing millions of visitors from all over the world. And, why each and everyone of them returns home smiling.”
China National Tourist Office


I was filming a barber on the street. Random people from the street came to see what I was filming. As they saw my display they were shocked at my close-up video-image and tried to teach me that I have to film the whole scenario.

“The Chinese resist the photographic dismemberment of reality. Close-ups are not used. Even the postcards of antiquities and works of art sold in museums do not show part of something; the object is always photographed straight on, centered, evenly lit, and in its entirety.”
Susan Sontag, ‘On Photography’


Communication and social interaction play a large part in my practice. Unable to speak or read Chinese characters, even the simplest sign language seemed to fail me. Although it was frustrating in both trying to explain one’s intentions as an artist and to discuss with locals the impact that economic and social change was having on their lives, the process of translation and the difficulties in making oneself understood became a motivation in itself.


Beijing does not like the city I have ever seen from the front. Especially when the weather is breaking rain, wind nor wash away, The thick smoke, Town becomes so lightly in a bath of red light is scattered side of greens and brilliant purples and reds. My glasses are nocturnal symptoms and the environment precarious. Under this luminescence, I photographed in Beijing. I am also concerned about what I can capture through long-term exposure to the traditional film cameras and pixel camera from my hand painting machine.

The Red Mansion Art Prize 2005

EBRU ERüLKü The Royal College of Art
ANN-CAROLINE BREIG The Royal Academy Schools
VALERIAN FREYBERG The Slade School of Fine Art
ALEXANDER HEIM Goldsmiths College
GARETH POLMEER Central Saint Martins
COLIN CROTTY Chelsea College of Art and Design



Being in Beijing was a break out into a large visual potpourri with very contrasting states. My interest was mainly caught by the atmosphere on the edge of the city where the new city is expanding and pushing further outside a simple every day lifestyle with its “simplicity, chaos and haziness”.

More or less everywhere, “old and new signs” could be found in an undefined
relational state, either indicating the beginning of a from each other independent
coexistence or either waiting for a harmonizing redefinition.


The life in the streets of Beijing is a ’24 hour theatre’; streets thick with traffic, tower blocks, people on bikes, groups practicing gongfu, old ladies dancing, barbeques sizzling, old men playing cards, proud guards patrolling… Like Chinese traditional painting which is quickly executed and presented as a scroll, I have captured some of the scenes that I experienced in Beijing.


While living in Beijing for the summer of 2005, most of my time was spent on building sites. I watched blocks of flats being knocked down and saw new buildings being put up. The breathtaking rapidity of this process, and the ruthlessness with which it was carried out, had me transfixed. I spent a lot of time thinking about the fall-out of these changes. Whose washing had I found hanging on a line after the bulldozers had left? Who had chosen the blue and green wallpaper I had found clinging to the wall left teetering in wake of demolition? My work during that time – when I was far from my own home – explores the texture of home.


The most exciting thing was the idea of getting lost, virtually disappearing. Without the possibility of communicating with Chinese people or to read signs it was very easy to get on a wrong train or bus, arriving in a random place with a false or no idea at all where one was.


My experience of The Red Mansion Art Prize was a six-week residency in Beijing, a city that intrigued me through its labyrinthine infrastructure and relentless changeability. My recent practice focuses upon authorial issues relative to the apparatus and technology used in digital video incorporating computer software and new media and explores processes of selection, medium specificity and materiality, physicality and reproduction.


This work has been developed in an effort to understand the environmental and social changes within the communities surrounding Beijing. I am observing particular settings and social events as a form of narrative to question the idea of the failure of a communist utopia.

The Red Mansion Art Prize 2004

ZOË BROWN The Royal College of Art
MAISIE KENDALL The Royal Academy Schools
JENNIE COLES The Slade School of Fine Art
BRUNO PACHECO Goldsmiths College
NEIL STEWART Central Saint Martins
BELEN URIEL Chelsea College of Art and Design



The artists here don’t make studios out of old warehouses like they do in London, here they build them from scratch. The buildings look like a cross between Brookside Close and Auschwitz, they are very strange, but inside they are massive and it feels like a luxury to be able to work in such a vast space for a month.

I don’t think privacy exists as a concept in China. Everyone eats in big groups, they never close the doors in the toilets, they have massive arguments on the streets, they stare at you, and they seem a lot less reserved in conversation than the English do.


There is an energy that keeps you alert in Beijing: I’ll never forget the taxi driver who drove like a character from a film, as though he were born to drive, swerving from lane to lane, beeping his horn all the way, smoking a cigarette, tossing his head back and howling with laughter as he overtook the crawling cars and screeched round the corner. But amidst the mayhem, people practise tai chi, apparently not needing complete quiet and stillness to concentrate: the peace of mind is, it seems, interior.

And that is why Beijing can be for anyone. It takes a little time to get used to a place so vibrant and so embedded in its own traditions, but once you get over the culture shock, the city is open, welcoming. To make oneself at home in an unfamiliar environment, that is the thing – to be able to find inner space amidst external chaos.

Losing my way in the labyrinth one afternoon, I found myself in a half-demolished house. So I put on my pyjamas, had a cup of tea and made a little film. A couple of passers by wandered in and stopped in their tracks – shocked at the behaviour of this lunatic, flailing around in a scrapheap. But after a minute the shock faded away. “Oh, she’s still doing that? Lets check out the next house”. All is change and innovation. Nothing is shocking for long. There’s a pulse to the city that invites you to experiment.


Definitely, there is scarcely a day that does not provoke new thoughts or offer new insights, not a moment on its own, does not prove stimulating. One of the great events of the year, unbelievable experience, a must see, truly recommend it.


In the West, we’ve been taught to start at the beginning.. and the truth is that this month in Beijing starts on the 2nd August, at least, that’s when I arrive. Or, to be more accurate, we arrive; for there are three of us: Maisie Kendall, Bruno Pacheco and myself. But, as I am coming to understand, the Chinese don’t place the same emphasis on beginnings and ends; containment is replaced with continuity, and the beginning/end gives way to before/after…

The Red Mansion Art Prize 2003

FIONA JACKSON-DOWNES The Slade School of Fine Art
PEARL HSIUNG Goldsmiths College
STEPHEN GRAY Central Saint Martins
FRANCESCA LOWE The Royal Academy of Arts
MARTINA MULLANEY The Royal College of Art
PETER PERI Chelsea College of Art and Design



My colour photographs attempt to depict society’s psychological imprint on its environment combining digital technology with my own personal reflection.

While staying in China it was important to me to produce work which could relate to a Chinese audience. Unable to speak, read or understand any Chinese this was going to prove difficult. Impressions of my surroundings preoccupied me. Endless “communist-style”, apartment blocks seemed an unavoidable reference. Practically all city living seemed to take place in almost identical high-rise blocks, many with barred windows. The buildings reminded me of uniforms, and the prescribed compartmentalisation determined by the country’s communist administration.

In England, my process of making art is very analytical and conceptual, and the response I received in China focused more on the “feeling” the work emitted, so I found myself involved in a totally different discourse to the one I am used to back home. In retrospect these sentiments have now become major considerations for me and represent the biggest influence on my work in response to the residency.


Particularly interesting were the things, both mundane and fantastic, that possessed a straightforward definition, but upon further pursuit might contain a story more complex in definition. This simultaneity of the brutally literal and the deeply metaphoric, as well as the success and failure of translation was very important to the work. The watercolour paintings I made were about “what you see is what you get” and “there is more than meets the eye”, while at the same time exploring the gaps between and around these areas of perception where meaning exists and mutates.


The young couple come into the carriage then. They do the stare for a few seconds. The one which is so different here, benign. They sit and proclaim “Hello” and look proud. I retort with my “Ni hoa” and we all laugh, suspecting we have exhausted our respective vocabularies. China is on the other side of the world. They explained it all at school. It is the opposite of where you are, no matter how big the spade you dig with, China is exactly where you are not.

Only, I am. China is now a metre away and offering me chewing gum. I take it and offer some of my own. A cultural bridge supported by Wrigley’s gum. Their attention turns to my still open guide. I offer it and they spend five minutes giggling at the no doubt wild inaccuracies of the language pages. They look reluctant to leave as their destination approaches. I think I will like China. In the realms unreachable by the spade of any British school boy I am relaxed.


Got a bike. Tend to bomb around the ring road singing and practicing automatic-off-the-cuff rap skills when morale gets low, (I figured they’ll stare anyway, so what the hell). Quite a liberating experience certainly couldn’t do that in London without ending up injured. Been to see some temples, (arrived in thunderstorm/monsoon downpour, climbed hundreds of steps (thankfully jack was in the pack, so kept upper-body and bag dry). Got to the top literally just as the sun came out, a ray of light falling on to a camel, which I took as a sign to ride (never been on one before, …saggy humps, good healthy-rancid-stench, some regal-red-chairman-Mao material to sit on. Photograph taken by toothless man).

Have been incorporated into various groups of persons playing games, whom usually can’t speak English. Therefore, have spent a few lazy afternoons squatting in park corners communicating through gesture, smiles and small diagrams in attempts to learn card and chequer style games. I’m not one for remembering rules of this sort even when they are repeated time and time again in English, so this was a frustrating experience, and one that made me look characteristically daft… something I am getting used to.


I now find it refreshing to locate myself in a place where I know very little about my surroundings. Like many travellers before me to experience a new country is full of all kinds of interesting challenges. All day every day is a learning experience, and of course nothing is what it seems. One fantastic big dream seen through rose tinted glasses. Food is amazing because you don’t have to cook it and its so much better than what you can get at home. Conversations are polite because of language barriers and people are hospitable because they are proud of their place in the world, they want you to take a good impression away with you. To be on the outside again observing and being observed is a welcome change to my current environment that now feels too familiar. This coupled with the challenge of making new work within a limited amount of time provided the components for an exciting four weeks.

I found it incredibly difficult to take my notions of how humans co-exist and apply them to a culture unknown to me. Dare I assume that I could make work that felt like mine? Of course what I thought I would like to do and what I did shifted once I began. Which opened my eyes to new possibilities within my practice.


On the train from Shanghai to Kunming I began to read Cao Xueqin’s classic of Chinese literature The Story Of The Stone (in later editions translated as A Dream Of Red Mansions). Its fiction is that the entire story, some two thousand pages, was originally written in minute characters on a single piece of jade. This notion of the big within the small, so important for Chinese culture, is linked to Borges’ labyrinths and his stories of ‘infinite’ objects like The Aleph, in which all eternity is constantly present on the bottom step of a cellar in Buenos Aries. In Borges’ world nothing can ever be fixed or fully deciphered.

The idea of an indecipherable script was a reality for us in China. The vast majority of people don’t understand the Roman alphabet and we of course got nowhere with Chinese characters. The fine horizontal lines in this drawing bring to mind a text without meaning, or a meaning that is hidden within the form of the crystal. The territory becomes that of Chiromancy in its original sense. Which as Paracelsus writes “is an art that consists not only in reading the hands of men and taking knowledge from their lines […], but includes all plants, all wood, all quartz and gravel, the soil and all flowing water and everything that has lines, veins, wrinkles and the like.”

The Red Mansion Art Prize 2002

CHRIS JONES Central Saint Martins

PAULINE THOMAS Central Saint Martins


Dreaming of china seems an appropriate way to recollect my experiences there, for, from the moment we descended through the solid white cloud haze, there was a distinct feeling of entering into another world, somewhere very different from anywhere I had experienced before.

This combination of contrary feelings came to typify my experiences in China. Whenever any sense of what I felt to be ‘reality’ formed around me, there would always be something to subvert it, to remind me that I was somewhere I was completely unfamiliar with.

My subjects are the mundane, everyday occurrences that go mainly unnoticed. These peripheral instances act as testament to our temporality, whether they be the mark made by the coffee cup in the breakfast rush or the piles of rubbish on the pavement that build up and disappear in continuous cycles. Through the use of these commonplace subjects I aim to gently subvert the viewers preconceptions of time and reality and perhaps ultimately to bring about a quiet reawakening of the senses.


My most current work involves the use of time-based medium, exploring non-narrative time, empty spaces, stillness and in-between states. My subject matter is light, air and water, initially working with images of sky and clouds as a way of exploring the juxtaposition between the void and the fullness: looking at, and highlighting, the subtle changes that appear, dissolve and are absorbed into the continuous temporal moment, and therefore a continuous loss. My enquiry through nature has led me to look at ‘life’ that is held in air or water as a way of searching to represent the illusion of infinite suspended states. This could be compared to what the Haiku poets describe as ‘sabi’: “The lonely quality that each thing has in its singular existence, when observed from a state of detachment.”