The 2023 University of Edinburgh Art Collection Graduate Show Purchase Prize has been awarded to Edinburgh College of Art graduating students Ammna Sheikh, Ffion Williams, and Tanatsei Gambura. 

Ammna, BA (Hons) Intermedia, Ffion, BA (Hons) Fine Art, and Tanatsei, BA (Hons) Intermedia, were selected for the annual prize from the ECA Graduate Show exhibition in June. As recipients of the prize, they were awarded a fixed fee in exchange for a piece of their work, which will be added to the University’s Art Collection. 

The artists are working with the University Art Collection curatorial team to decide on which aspect of their Graduate Show work they would like to be added to the collection. 

Curator at the University of Edinburgh Art Collections Claire Walsh said: “The University’s Art Collection will be enriched by the addition of works by Tanatsei, Ammna and Ffion. In different ways, these artists are dealing with urgent realities: living with digital technologies, understanding the colonial legacies that continue to haunt our present, and negotiating the entanglements of language and identity. 

“At first Ffion’s hanging canvases could be defiant protest banners but a closer look at the painted phrases reveals the self-consciousness of negotiating an unfamiliar language. Urdu, Arabic, Persian and English meet in Ammna’s work. Her installation contrasts digitally produced images with the labourious process she undertakes in weaving them together by hand. Tanastsei uses digital means to confront the viewer with the privilege of their own gaze in Chameleon, a beautiful counterpoint to the usual one-way street of observing works of art.

“This was a truly impressive trio of Graduate Show presentations and we look forward to continuing our conversations with the artists about how best to record their practices with the collection and connect their works with teaching and research across the University."

A photo of Ammna's work at the 2023 Graduate Show, three intricate vertical textiles hang on a vibrant pink wall
Image by University of Edinburgh Cultural Heritage Digitisation Service
Ammna Sheikh The Richer A Persian, The Finer His Rugs (2023)

"My biggest inspiration has been my cultural background, I’ve grown up with learning about traditional craft techniques. I enjoy creating my pieces by hand and the process of making is what has most interested me throughout the years."

Ammna Sheikh

The Richer a Persian, The Finer His Rugs by Ammna Sheikh 

Ammna Sheikh’s work, The Richer a Persian, The Finer His Rugs, focuses on the history of Urdu literature and the influence of British colonialism in Pakistan. 

Ammna said: "Combining the use of Urdu/Persian/Arabic and English text I created weaved pieces that interweave all these languages and cultures. These pieces are represented as works that embrace the mark of the hand, as human-made artworks. 

"My biggest inspiration has been my cultural background; I’ve grown up learning about traditional craft techniques. I enjoy creating my pieces by hand and the process of making is what has most interested me throughout the years.” 

View Ammna's profile on the 2023 Graduate Show website.

Cymraeg Ddrwg by Ffion Williams 

Ffion Williams’ project Cymraeg Ddrwg, which translates as Bad Welsh, uses text and the Welsh Language (Cymraeg) to explore themes of Welshness, protest and hope. 

Ffion said: “When using Welsh I make mistakes and substitute English. I call this Cymraeg Ddrwg (Bad Welsh). Through this, I embrace language as an evolving tool for creation.  

“I conducted interviews at the train station in my hometown, regarding Welsh language and identity. My installations embody the commotion of a train station, with sound guiding the viewer through the work.  

“Through my metal sets and protest banner motifs, I strive to display the power of protest and share stories on a wider scale.” 

View Ffion's profile on the 2023 Graduate Show website.

A photo of Ffion's installation at the 2023 Graduate Show. Fabric hangings with large marked lettering is displayed in front of a view to Edinburgh Castle through the window
Image by University of Edinburgh Cultural Heritage Digitisation Service
Ffion Williams, Cymraeg Ddrwg (2023)
A photograph of Chameleon by Tanatsei, five images are displayed side-by-side on a white wall
Image by University of Edinburgh Cultural Heritage Digitisation Service
Tanatsei Gambura, Chameleon (2023)

Chameleon by Tanatsei Gambura 

Tanatsei Gambura’s Chameleon proposes a multi-channel conceptual moving-image artwork exploring the intersection of photography, performance art, and video art. 

The work examines the relationship between art, the body, and digital technologies using living portraits while exploring how identities are constructed and communicated in different social, historical, and political contexts. 

Tanatsei explains: "The initial idea for Chameleon came from the play Sizwe Bansi is Dead (Athol Fugard, John Kani, Winston Ntshona), which explores a photography studio as the setting for the unfolding of a dramatic narrative.  

"This concept intrigued me and ignited an exploration into the relationship between photography, performance, and the socio-political contexts in which identity materialises. The idea of using photography as a medium to convey narratives and evoke emotions became a central theme in the development of my project.” 

View Tanatsei's profile on the 2023 Graduate Show website.

This year, the recipients were selected by the University Art Collection Curatorial Staff, Claire Walsh and Liv Laumenech, the Museum Collections Manager, Anna Hawkins and the Director of Talbot Rice Gallery, Tessa Giblin.

Claire Walsh, said: “We were incredibly impressed by the high standard of work produced by this year’s ECA graduates and want to extend congratulations to the students and staff who worked hard to pull off an impressive Graduate Show.

“I would like to extend my thanks to Tessa Giblin, Director of Talbot Rice Gallery for her sharp insights and engagement and to my colleagues Liv Laumenech and Anna Hawkins for their creativity and guidance on the selection process.”

Congratulations to Ammna, Ffion and Tanatsei! 

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