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Christian Ovonlen wins the Brookfield Properties Craft Award

By Emily Peagram 11 Mar 2022

This year’s winner of the Craft Award, a leading prize for UK-based artists worth £60,000, has been announced as Christian Ovonlen, with his series of vivid hand painted and printed silks influenced by his research into theatrical costume and performance stages from the 19th and 20th Centuries.

Artworks from the artist’s Ballets Russes and Botanical Silk series will be acquired for the Crafts Council Collection by Brookfield Properties alongside paper works and will be exhibited at 99 Bishopsgate and Aldgate Tower from 1 June to 31 July 2022.

The Brookfield Properties Craft Award gives the winning artist and associated gallery financial support and a solo exhibition and acquires their work into the national Crafts Council Collection, a major public asset which holds over 1,700 objects acquired from the 1970s onwards. As part of the Award, Ovonlen will receive curatorial and production support to stage an exhibition across Brookfield Properties’ 99 Bishopsgate and Aldgate Tower.

Ovonlen joined Intoart, a London-based collective of artists and designers with learning disabilities and autism, in 2013, where he developed a practice inspired by his interest in pop culture, fashion and costume design. His practice begins in drawing – known for his use of bold colours and lavish textures, the artist translates works on paper into the medium of textile design and handcrafted print techniques to create handmade, printed silk textiles that hang vertically to reference the stages and performers that inspired them.

Rosy Greenlees – OBE and Executive Director of the Crafts Council, said: “Not only does this award provide such an important opportunity for Christian Ovonlen and Intoart but by being acquired for the Crafts Council Collection it ensures the work can be seen and enjoyed by the public for many years to come.”

Saff Williams – Curatorial Director, Brookfield Properties, said:
“We are so proud to award the 2022 Award to Christian Ovonlen. When Annabelle Campbell [Crafts Council curator] and I walked into the Intoart studio in Peckham, we were immediately blown away by the colours and movement in Christian’s work. His figures appear to lift off the silks, dancing across the fabric, bold in line and brushwork, inspiring imagination and joy. His works will be the perfect injection of life and art into our reception spaces.”

Ovonlen is the third artist to win the award, following Anna Ray in 2021 and Matt Smith in 2020. Christian Ovonlen’s solo exhibition will be on view at Brookfield Properties’ 99 Bishopsgate and Aldgate Tower from 1 June to 31 July 2022.

Photos: Alun Callender
Photos: Alun Callender

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