Soho House is officially launching the Soho House Art Prize, a prize for contemporary art aimed at discovering, recognising and supporting artistic talent from around the world. Supported by Bombay Sapphire, the prize will be awarded by Soho House after judgement from a panel of artists and collectors that includes Maria Balshaw CBE, Hebru Brantley, as well as Kate Bryan, Head of Collections for Soho House.
Soho House’s new prize is twofold. First, the artist will be commissioned to create an exhibition and site-specific installation at Miami Beach House during Art Basel Miami Beach. This includes funding, all travel and accommodation, an “Every House” Soho House membership, and incredible exposure to key figures in the art world. Second, Soho House will foster an ongoing relationship with the artist — a point Soho House Head of Collections Kate Bryan drives home in our exclusive interview. To hear more about the prize, which will be accepting applications until July 28, Schön! spoke with Bryan for the full story.
Can you introduce us to the Soho House Art Prize, both what it is and what inspired it?
We have a collection of over 5500 artworks at Soho House, and we really cherish our relationships with artists. They really help make the Houses what they are. We wanted to take our love for art one stage further and develop a prize that really took an artist on a journey. The prize is not just about the winner; by having a global open call we are also going to be introduced to the ideas and work of lots of new artists.
Why was this year the perfect time to launch the Soho House Art Prize?
We had planned to launch the prize for a while. We could never have foreseen what would happen directly before the announcement, not just a global pandemic but the Black Lives Matter protests and a shifting global consciousness. Very quickly I saw artists responding to these enormous, complex issues in personal and meaningful ways. It feels that more than ever we need art to bring us together, to create a safe space for radical thinking and beauty in all its forms.
You’ve worked as a mentor for young women in the arts. How did that history help inform this competition?
The mentoring that I do is really important to me, I wish I could do more. I knew that the prize would really benefit from having this aspect. It means I have a real opportunity to develop a meaningful relationship with the winner and do what I can to be a sounding board for their ideas as they turn their idea into a reality.
What was the process of assembling the judging panel for the prize?
In a word, it was exciting. I was so happy that Hebru already had a special relationship to Bombay Sapphire and that he has a very strong engagement with young audiences. Maria Balshaw is also a dream judge, I respect her so much, and if I were an artist I would be thrilled to know that these two were looking at my work.
When looking at a portfolio for this prize, what sort of traits do you want the judges to be looking for?
We are all looking for someone authentic, someone is able to stand for what they believe in as a person and an artist. Whilst the originality of their concept is absolutely crucial, we are also really paying attention to how the artist approaches making their work. I know with this artist’s eye Hebru is very focused on how things will be executed.
Personally, what makes a good applicant for the Soho House Art Prize?
For me, a good applicant is someone who has something original to say, who knows who they are as an artist. It’s fine if they have a great concept but don’t quite know what shape it could take; we can help with that. What do they want to say? Why are they saying it, and how would they like people to interact with the work? This is not a white cube exhibition space. It’s a busy club which is going to be filled with people, and we need that to be factored in.
How does a prize like this fit in with the ideas and ethos of Soho House?
The prize encapsulates a lot of what Soho House is about; it’s global, creative, it’s about people and spaces and community, sharing ideas, and it’s about fostering new talent.
Finally, you’ve mentioned that this prize is not only about a singular prize, but long term support. What does that mean to you, and how will that take shape in the prize?
I love the relationships I have with artists across the world. I will acquire a work and then stay in touch for years. I like to hear how artists are getting on, seeing how their careers progress. I hope to be helpful, connecting them to other artists, galleries, collectors and members they might like to meet. So for me, the winner is going to be part of our extended Soho House family beyond the exhibition in December.
For more information on the Soho House Art Prize supported by Bombay Sapphire, please visit www.sohohouse.com/projects/
All imagery is courtesy of Soho House
words. Braden Bjella