A PRESTIGIOUS art foundation presented its first Chester Prize at an awards ceremony on Wednesday, November 22.

The Sovereign Art Foundation (SAF) hosted the SAF Students Prize Chester 2023 Awards at the city's Cathedral. The event was well attended by the shortlisted artists, their teachers and community and business representatives.

It was the inaugural year of the event, with the SAF holding ceremonies in just 10 other locations globally, since its first in 2012.

The judging panel for this year’s prize comprised internationally renowned artists and sculptors David Mach and Kevin Francis Gray; Louise Shannon, Head of Programming at Tate Liverpool, Jim Wheat, Artist and Founder of Dollars & Art and Howard Bilton, Founder and Chairman of SAF.

Emily Peacock was the Judge's Prize Winner with her painting 'The Blue Bridge'. Emily wins £800 and £2000 for her school art department at Sir John Deane's Sixth Form College. Emily's teacher and Head of Art and Design, Simon Davies collected the cheque on behalf of the school.

Chester and District Standard: Emily Peacock won the Judge's Prize for 'The Blue Bridge'.Emily Peacock won the Judge's Prize for 'The Blue Bridge'. (Image: SAF)

Emily said: "I completed this piece as part of my first year Art A-level and it features Hartley Bridge, which I cross regularly. I was drawn to all the clean lines and angles it has. Lots of people have asked if it is a photograph and are surprised it is a painting."

Simon said: "Watching Emily paint this picture was amazing. It only took small words of encouragement and direction to see her strike on with confidence. The painting of the bolts on the bridge almost proved to be one detail too far but again she was able to master the processes needed to great effect. With the prize money, we are seriously considering investing in some sort of improvement in our ability to put on an end of year show for all the amazing work that we produce."

The Public Vote Prize winner was Emma Powell, for her piece 'Watching Autumn'. Emma received £400 and £1,000 for her school art department, Tarporley High School and Sixth Form College.

Chester and District Standard: Emma Powell with her winning piece 'Watching Autumn'.Emma Powell with her winning piece 'Watching Autumn'. (Image: SAF)

Emma was joined by her art teacher James Bowland who commented: "“It is wonderful to see investment being put into the arts and SAF recognising the central role art plays in society and the lives of young people. It was an honour for our students to exhibit their work in Chester Cathedral as exhibiting artists and for Emma to be a successful recipient of the Public Choice award is a tremendous accolade and reflection of her creative talent. The prize money will make a significant contribution towards developing our art department as we look to purchase a kiln."

The Ceremony was hosted by Stuart Stobie, MD of Sovereign Corporate & Trustee Services (SCATS). Judge Jim Wheat presented the Judge’s Prize Winner, advising that “creativity takes courage…everyone is an artist whatever your age”. SCATS Director, Josephine Rocca presented the Public Vote Prize Winner.

SCATS also awarded a special commendation of £250 to Samuele Giavedoni, also of Sir John Deane's Sixth Form College for his painting ‘Lisa’ which also scored very highly.

Some of the pieces are available to buy via silent auction, with 50% of the proceeds going to the artist and 50% to the local charitable causes SAF support locally. The auction closes on 1 December.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of The Sovereign Art Foundation (SAF). During this time, SAF has been running art prizes that recognise, support and promote contemporary art talent in both professional artists and students of art throughout the world. SAF has raised over $11 million (around £8,706,000) for artists and to fund programmes that bring the therapeutic benefits of art to children.

SAF runs 11 Student Prizes around the world and the Chester edition is the newest to the portfolio, joining this year. The winners of the Judges and Public Vote Prizes in Chester will be automatically entered into the annual SAF Global Students Prize in 2024, showcasing their talent on an international stage and facilitating cultural exchange and dialogue.

SAF are grateful to venue partner Chester Cathedral and for support from Tax Natives and Benham Publishing.

Facebook: The SAF Students Prize, Chester (@SAFSPChester)

Instagram: @safstudentsprize @sovereignartfoundation