Winner of Literary Inspirations Art Competition 2022: Inspired by Paula Rego

Congratulations to Emily Barrett, the winner of Literary Inspirations Art Competition 2022: Inspired by Paula Rego!

We were delighted by both the standard and volume of the entries submitted, with a varied and impressive skillset displayed throughout the artwork we received. However, Emily's entry was an exemplary display of ingenuity and fulfilling the brief of the competition. 

Our judging panel, which included the Curator of 'Paula Rego: Literary Inspirations', Sophie Yaniw, had this to say about the winning entry:

“Emily Barrett’s response to our ‘Literary Inspirations Art Competition’ brief has exceeded our expectations. Having studied the work of Paula Rego, it is clear that Emily understood the artist’s intention but, like Paula Rego, responded to the given passage in a way that is entirely her own. The work is intelligent, insightful and well-executed and the judging panel were blown away.”

Entitled 'The Prey Begins', Emily's description of her work can be read below:

When I read the extract from Jane Eyre, it made me feel very uncomfortable.  I imagined and remembered times when I was made to feel small and frustrated.

I felt like Jane was being made fun of by someone who she should have been able to trust.  I wanted to change this and relate it to situations that could affect others.  People may be picked on or bullied for many different reasons. People may also feel different to others and have difficulty expressing their thoughts and ideas.

I liked the idea of ’Jane’ wearing a little bird’s mask to show how tiny, delicate, and vulnerable she was.  However, birds can be fast flying and can escape. They also have stamina since we know they can fly long distances.  ‘Jane’ may be wounded have a broken wing/leg and cannot escape.  In this painting ‘Jane’ is trapped in an unnatural environment, but we feel she will gather her strength and find a way through.

The figure towering over ‘Jane’ wears a fox mask because foxes attack chickens and sometimes not even for food, but just because they can. The fox also picks on defenceless creatures. I see this figure as Mr Brocklehurst but also as a predator.

The other children surround ‘Jane’ but they do not know whether to protect her or hide in the background.  They are confused but may have other abilities to help them survive.

The squirrel can run fast and climb and is difficult to catch. The mouse can hide, make holes and live in dark spaces. The robin ‘Jane’ needs freedom to survive and looks towards the ceiling. ‘Jane’ also wears a cochlear implant because she is deaf like me.

I have looked at how Paula Rego uses animals in her works. She sometimes makes fun of the person she is painting by giving them a whole animal head. She has described frightening scenes that have actually happened, and she has said that she can paint her experiences and what she might like to tell people about events, when describing it in words is just not enough.

My painting is very ‘dark’ because people need to understand about bullying and how it affects people.

To see the work in full, click here

The Prey Begins will soon be on display in the Courtyard Café window.