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Culture Awards Visual Artist of the Year finalists: Joseph Hillier, Magdalene Odundo and Wolfgang Weileder

A piece for the Great North Passion, a work made up of a thousand glass pieces and a nine-metre cone all caught the eye of the judges

This award recognises a North East-based artist whose work has left a lasting impression in 2014. This nomination could be for one particular piece of an individual’s work or an exhibition/showcase of their talents.


Mortal 8 was an art piece created by sculptor Joseph Hillier for the Great North Passion, which was broadcast live from South Shields on Good Friday.

Designed to represent Jesus Christ’s final moments, with a theme of self-sacrifice and love, was the 12th station in the project.

Mortal 8 by Joseph Hillier

Cornwall-born Joseph got his BA in Fine Art from Newcastle University in 1997 and held a research post there for a number of years while completing a series of exhibitions across the UK.

Of his Great North Passion piece, Joseph, who is based in the North East, says: “I was given the death of Christ as a starting point. As an atheist, this was going to be an interesting journey...

“I worked with volunteers to research historic paintings and sculpture about mortality, held in local collections. The volunteers then posed for me using props and each other to consider the themes of the works. I digitally scanned them and distilled their gestures and poses into the work, Mortal 8.

“The title is the name of the digital file I made the work from, the eighth version I made.

“It is surprise to be nominated for the Visual Artist of the Year; the first award I won was for flower arranging - Trewenack Village show, Cornwall in about 1983, beat my sister in the posy in an egg cup section.

“Mortal 8 was a breakthrough piece for my work, it represents the culmination of years of research and an exciting collaboration with people, something I had previously treated as a separate activity from my practice, but this was a real conversation that took the work in an exciting direction.”

Website: www.josephhillier.com

Twitter: @joehillierart


Magalene Odundo, OBE, grew up and studied in India and Kenya, but moved to England in 1971 to complete courses in Fine Art and Graphic Design. She is known as one of Britain’s leading artists working in ceramics, but in recent years she has explored the potential of glass within her artistic practice, culminating with the installation Transition II, which was shown, for the first time, at National Glass Centre, Sunderland.

Transition II, made of one thousand glass pieces aspired to make work that recognises human endeavor and instinct for its survival. It acknowledges the importance of writing a human history through making cultural objects, sharing of ideas and skills and, simply celebrating the pleasure of making art.

Transition II by Magdalene Odundo

Transition II made up part of a three-part exhibition, featuring two further installations, Metamorphosis and Transformation and Transition I.

Magdalene says: “I am absolutely thrilled to be nominated for the Journal Culture Award. I am proud that the exhibition Tri-part-it-us has been recognized by this nomination in the North-East. I wanted the exhibition Tri-part-it-us to be an immersive public cultural experience.

“The exhibition achieves this ambition and I believe that Transition II, the centerpiece of this trio was powerful and magical. It succeeded in creating that elusive mystery that glass does create as a material. I liked the fact that the installation allowed everyone to be part of the work, to transit and to travel within and without the space.

“The nomination is an endorsement of an excellent collaborative project in cultural public art practice.

“Sunderland has a long historic glass making tradition, I feel very privileged to have been invited to collaborate with the National Glass Centre in making this work, I loved my time here in the North-East and am very grateful to every one at the National Glass Centre, University of Sunderland, UCA and everyone involved in the project for their support and enthusiasm.”

Website: www.magdaleneodundo.com


Wolfgang Weileder hails from Munich in Germany. He moved to the UK in 2000 and is a Professor of Contemporary Sculpture at Newcastle University.

He is nominated for this award for the Cone, an artwork situated on the Dunston Staiths in Gateshead.

Cone was the first large scale installation piece that has been developed from the Jetty project: Art & Sustainability a collaborative research investigation funded by the Arts Humanities and Research Council and coordinated by Newcastle and Lancaster universities.

Cone by Wolfgang Weileder

At 9m high and 7m diameter Cone took as it’s aesthetic influence the shape of the historic coal fired bottle kiln that was once an integral part of the industrial heritage of the North East. It was made from recycled mixed plastic waste and created a temporary, inhabitable space that was both a sign and a symbol of what is past and what is the future for the interpretations and debates of public art in the context of sustainability.

“Through artwork such as this, we’re looking at how fine art projects can make a meaningful contribution to the debate around urban sustainability as well as being exciting works of art in their own right,” says Wolfgang.

“I feel very honoured to be considered for the Journal Culture Award 2014, especially since the Cone and the Jetty-Project have been specifically developed for the Dunston Staiths.

“This ambitious project could not have happened without the Tyne and Wear Building Preservation Trust and the help of volunteers and students from Gateshead College and Newcastle University as well as the support in kind from the companies Maers, RBau Sunderland and Layher. I specially would like to thank them here again.”

Website: www.wolfgangweileder.com


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