North East Connected


Talented artist and Yarm School Lower Sixth Form student Mia Mack, 17, has been shortlisted for one of the prestigious Holt Festival Art prizes.

Mia, who is studying Art A Level, submitted her oil painting ‘New Shoes’ for the Sworders Art prize for young talent aged 16 – 18. Shortlisted works for the two Sworders Art prizes are also entered in the Sir John Hurt Art Prize.

BAFTA winner and Oscar nominee Sir John Hurt spent many years of his life in north Norfolk. Known for roles in TV and film including The Elephant Man, Midnight Express, The Naked Civil Servant and as Mr Ollivander in Harry Potter, he was also the Chancellor of Norwich University of the Arts and a huge supporter of The Holt Hold Festival, which is in its 10th year.

One of last year’s judges and past winner of the Sovereign European Art Prize, Susan Gunn, said: “The Sir John Hurt Art Prize, and the more recent Sworders Art Prizes which accompany it, are a momentous tribute to John’s love and passion for the Arts. Based in his beloved East Anglia, the quality and standard of entrants increases year on year with entries from regional and nationally renowned artists and amateur practitioners with an eagerness to create. I look forward to seeing how the prize develops.”

Mia Mack explained the concept behind her entry: “Inspired during lockdown by how much music can change how you feel, I created this piece to capture my usual reaction to hearing the song ‘New Shoes’ by Paolo Nutini – dancing. Given the subject of the song, I thought my favourite shoes should take centre stage and be in a musical environment, hence the drum-kit that lives in the garage where I took my reference photographs. I closely relate music with art and am fascinated by the impact that both can have on a person in a small space of time. It took approximately 50 hours to complete in oils.”

She added: “I am always trying to push my boundaries with what I can create and what I use to create it. Pushing boundaries for me is trying to show my skills in different and original ways and have concepts and stories behind my work that go deeper than surface level. Working on my A Level course is really helping with this whilst also refining my technical skills in drawing, painting, and colour mixing, which I hope is shown off in my competition entry piece.”

Mia also recently came second in the international, 2021 New College of the Humanities essay competition. Her entry for the Art History category was entitled – Should the West return cultural artefacts to their former colonial territories? She won £500 as runner up.

Headmaster Huw Williams said: “We are all very proud of Mia and her success and awestruck by the piece of art she submitted for the prize. The standard of the competition is exceptionally high, with established and up and coming artists presenting their work.

“The school’s ethos is to nurture our students and encourage them to make the most of their talent, no matter what the field.

“Mia’s talents in art are exceptional, and she is naturally motivated to explore and improve her craft. She has the commitment and ability to accomplish anything she wants to. To see her art displayed during the festival is a huge achievement.”

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