The Last Art Award Finalists

We are proud to confirm our seven finalists as, Charlotte Amelia Poe, Dawnne McGeachy, Emma Selwyn, Jessica Chowdhury, Nnena Kalu, Peter Matthews and Yap. We will be exhibiting the fantastic works from these artists at the prestigious Saatchi Gallery in London on 30th April – 2nd May 2018. The first place winner will be decided and announced on the 1st May 2018 and first place will win £10,000. Each runner up will receive £1000 and all finalists will have access to continued curatorial and PR support within the art industry.

Charlotte Amelia Poe

Charlotte Amelia Poe

Charlotte Amelia Poe, born in 1989, is a self-taught artist from Suffolk. Charlotte loves language and words and is an aspiring author. She also works with video and the film she submitted for the Spectrum Art Prize, 'How To Be Autistic' presents the rarely shown point of view of someone living with autism. Her work challenges narratives of autism, created by neurotypical people, as something to be 'fixed'. Charlotte believes her autism is a fundamental aspect of her identity and art.

Charlotte's intention was to "show the side of autism that I have lived through, the side you don't find in books and on Facebook groups. The title 'How To Be Autistic' is taken from the idea that neurotypical people are writing about us, with an idea of how to fix us." Charlotte goes on to describe her submission as a story about survival, fear and finally, hope. It is an open letter to every autistic person who has suffered the verbal, mental or physical abuse and come out snarling and alive."

Charlotte would like to be an ambassador for the condition so that she can be supportive to others who have faced similar difficulties. She states "I want to make people who care for autistic people understand. I want to be a resource for people to say you are not on your own."

"Charlotte shows us both the desperate and bleak angle to autism, as well as the beautiful side. The video is extremely personal and approachable, not only from the autism viewpoint, but one 'we' as all human beings can relate to." - Prof. Simon Baron-Cohen

"We watch Charlotte go through breaking and fixing herself. She wants to tell the world her story."- Charming Baker, Artist

"Charlotte's work is extremely powerful and wants to be an ambassador for the condition. Charlotte realises all individuals with autism are different and feels the difficulties she has faced could be a support to others"Mary Simpson, CEO of Spectrum ASD

"I wanted to show the side of autism that I have lived through, the side you don't find in books and on Facebook groups. My piece is a story about survival, fear and finally, hope. It is an open letter to every autistic person who has suffered the verbal, mental or physical abuse and come out snarling and alive"- Charlotte Amelia Poe, on her performance

"With a knowledge of the structure and sense of the regular beat and pattern of early Modern film, Charlotte Amelia Poe brings a film that is both sophisticated and naïve, pure and troubled. The artist stares at the camera and turns, with apparent ease, an open confessional bedroom video into a touching and difficult account of her own experience."Sacha Craddock, Curator.

Dawnne McGeachy

Dawnne McGeachy

Dawnne's fascination with the sea began as a child growing up on the peninsula of Kintyre Campbelltown, Scotland and hearing the stories of her fisherman father. This fascination led her to study the science of waves, which she has used to create precise paintings that convey the power and brutality of the sea. Born in 1969, Dawnne trained at the Glasgow School of Art, after which she was awarded a scholarship to study Fine Art at the University of Ohio, US. In 2013, Dawnne was awarded the Jolomo Bank of Scotland prize for landscape painting.

Dawnne studies the forces that create waves through mathematical equations and by using the Beaufort Wind Force Scale. Dawnne sets out the working of each wave state using the scale and then paints directly on top, encapsulating the mathematics within the painting. Dawnne describes herself as focused and obsessed.

Dawnne submitted six oil and ink paintings of the sea at Eshaness, Shetland for the Spectrum Art Prize. Describing her fascination with waves, Dawnne stated: "I love watching the wind drag across the surface, pulling and agitating, making slants and troughs, noticing the troughs get deeper and steeper as they collect the wind and realising this long, rolling swell originated in an ocean storm prior to breaking away from the disturbances of the unsettled sea miles away from the shore and me."

"Dawnne's subject is the logical formation of waves, yet her paintings are extremely sentimental and have the ability to hold your emotion." - Charming Baker, Artist

"It is very hard to paint water realistically, Dawnne has done just that."Richard Billingham, Photographer/Videographer

"Dawnne feels the need to understand the forces on the waves through mathematics and the Beaufort scale, she has spent considerable time researching this." Mary Simpson, CEO of Spectrum

"The wave is held up, not by the eye, but by science and rationale… Diagrammatical accounts of the progress of the tide and the moon lie beneath Dawnne McGeachy's powerfully painted representations of a wave as they are about to break. These paintings underpin, with force, the fact that visual representation is made up of so much more than appearance alone."Sacha Craddock, Curator

Emma Selwyn

Emma Selwyn

Born in 1987, Emma Selwyn is a performance artist from Croydon, London. Emma has performed in various plays and musicals and since graduating in 2016 from the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama with a Performance Making Diploma, has created autobiographical work. Emma's work uses humour and satire to explore issues surrounding autism, gender and sexuality.

For the Spectrum Art Prize Emma submitted a twenty-minute performance video called 'My Hands and Feet are Wiggling', an upbeat and playful autobiographical piece that incorporates song and physical theatre.

"Emma's performance could be seen as an example of a stereotypical autistic meltdown, instead she has used her 'negative behaviour' and turned it into a powerful, positive, civil rights performance." - Prof. Simon Baron-Cohen

"Emma uses the stage as a basis to openly advocate for autistic people."Mary Simpson, CEO of Spectrum ASD

Jessica Chowdhury

Jessica Chowdhury

Jessica Chowdhury is a sculptor, animator and filmmaker from Streatham, London. Born in 1997, Jessica has a Foundation Diploma in Art & Design from the City & Guilds Art School, and began her BA in Production Arts for Screen at Wimbledon College in September 2017. She works with clay and mixed media to create fantastical, expressive and humorous sculptures and stop-motion animations. Jessica's fascination with the classics is reflected in her work.

Jessica submitted four clay sculptures to the Spectrum Art Prize including busts of David Bowie and her late father, a satirical Donald Trump shrine and a model of Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka. She also submitted a stop-motion murder mystery animation, Long Time No See, and a comic strip, Ass Burgers What's That.

"Jessica clearly understands the language of the mediums she is using."Richard Billingham, Photographer/Videographer

"Whilst Jessica's animation has a dark concept, she has used humour to deal with her autism and anxiety over a social situation."Charming Baker, Artist

"Often it can be hard for those with autism to imagine deception, Jessica has captured the vulnerable side of life for autistic individuals."Prof. Simon Baron-Cohen

"Jessica Chowdhury uses a series of familiar motifs and actions in her apparently effortless animation. This endearing representation of internal fear and suspicion, manages to educate and touchingly entertains."Sacha Craddock, Curator

Nnena Kalu

NNena Kalu

Nnena Kalu creates large-scale sculptural pieces using a range of everyday materials, from coloured string and cling film, to cardboard and old VHS reels. Nnena begins each work by bundling material into a cocoon, which she then expands by adding layers of different material, altering the shape and density of the original object. Which piece of material she chooses to add is determined by the sound and rhythm of what she is making. When Nnena is making a pattern, she has a clear line, a path and a process, with herself at the performative centre. Nnena was born in 1966, lives in London and is a self-taught artist.

Nnena's art facilitator at Action Space, Charlotte, documents all her work and explains that "everything is cherished, on that moment."

For the Spectrum Art Prize Nnena submitted eight pieces, including two recent works and the sculpture she made for the 'Capharnaum' exhibition at the Theatre De Liege, Belgium. The works vary in size, composition and shape: some are tightly bound cocoons, others are expansive, loosely constructed shapes. Each time her work is exhibited Nnena adds further layers of material, meaning that her works are continually evolving and developing.

"Nnena works as if unravelling a long line. Everything starts and ends… Nnena's work tests and expands the potential of site-specific sculpture." - Sacha Craddock, Curator

"Nnena likes to work on large installations, binding and wrapping… She works in a rhythmic motion and often with her eyes closed."Mary Simpson, CEO of Spectrum ASD

"Nnena creates ever-evolving, large scale sculptural pieces. Each piece is constantly revisited and reworked, and it changes each time it's exhibited." - Charlotte Hollinshead, art facilitator at Action Space

"Nnena Kalu works with a strong idea of completion, the point at which all has been achieved. Her drawing carries levels of repetition, yet she has a keen sense of the possibility of the image as a whole and knows when to stop. The pull between rhythm, repetition, process, and therapy is here in her sculptural work which is assured as image as well as fact."Sacha Craddock, Curator

Peter Matthews

Peter Matthews

Peter Matthews was born in 1978, lives in Leicestershire, and studied Fine Art at Nottingham Trent University. Peter was inspired to make the sea the focus of his work after suffering a near-death experience while surfing in Mexico in 2007. His drawings, paintings, photography and videos are conceptual and performative, and have been exhibited in galleries across Europe and America. In 2017, Peter was awarded the Hugh Casson Drawing Prize, by the Royal Academy, London, and received a grant from the Arts Council England.

Peter has a great affinity with the outdoors and it is where he feels safest. Peter talks about being in the water where although everything is moving he is suspended in time. This gives him a sense of security and serenity where the only thing he needs to think about are the things he can see, the waves which he counts, the clouds moving, the bubbles and rocks underneath the water. Times and maps are important to Peter, he counts the waves as sets, which you can clearly see in his drawings. Peter can spend up to 12 hours in the water at any one time and believes that "the ocean is writing itself, a lot of the words drift off the edge".

Peter submitted a series of five drawings to the Spectrum Art Prize which he made while immersed in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Cornwall. He created each drawing after spending a certain number of hours in the Ocean, using rust and pen on paper, and a plank for support. His abstract drawings are – like a stream of consciousness – a response to the vastness of the sea and the experience of solitude that being immersed into the sea provides.

"Peter's work is very original, created with an unusual process and in an unusual location. He creates pattern from sound and time and turns this into artistic visualisation" Prof. Simon Baron-Cohen

"Peter explains he feels there are no barriers to time, or geographically when he is in the ocean. It is his personal dialogue with the ocean and the subject, which is constantly changing." Mary Simpson, CEO of Spectrum ASD

"The series of drawings were produced while drawing alone for up to 12 hours, directly immersed in the Atlantic Ocean and wandering along the coastline in Cornwall last year. Drawing and recording the live stream of consciousness and phenomenon happening over time using pen and rust on paper."Peter Matthews, on his own art

"Peter Matthews achieves a true disembodied relation to the surface of his drawing by being in the sea, for a very long time. Floating for hours in the ocean, drawing in response to movement, moment, ebb and flow, the artist's body is able to turn into an instrument of gesture which records and responds to the build-up of force and movement. This cross between risk and knowledge, expectation and understanding, allows an exceptional account of real time to come to the surface."Sacha Craddock, Curator



Yap works with acrylic and pen, depicting figures using fluid lines, geometric forms and intertwined shapes. Born in 1967, a successful musician with an established career in the industry, he has travelled all over the world and now lives in London where he works as an artist. Yap was diagnosed 8 years ago and states that his diagnosis of autism has brought some order to his world.

His work is inspired by his interest in mathematics and philosophy and the idea that art can capture something of the hidden structures of the world.

Yap views his art as an extension of his autism, a unique mode of expression. Describing his process, Yap stated: "I don't think when I paint; I simply paint. I mainly close my eyes and draw the shapes I feel within."

For the Spectrum Art Prize, Yap submitted three pieces: Anxiety, Our Colours and The Philosopher. While Our Colours is a depiction of lovers, drawn together with a single line and demonstrating the rapture of love, Anxiety coveys the weight of depression, and The Philosopher, the restlessness of an active mind.

"It is clear that as a philosopher, Yap wishes to relay his message in as many art forms as possible. It is also unusual for those on the autistic spectrum to draw people, autistic individuals often draw objects and shape." - Prof. Simon Baron-Cohen

"I love to paint couples. My approach is always to see them as a single, continuous line containing one unit." Yap, on his own work

"Art is a constant fixture in my mind. Living with autism has had its moments, but art in many ways has been my constant ocean of tranquil." Yap, on his own work

"Art is oxygen. Art is a bridge. Art is man's attempt to paint the butterfly as beautiful as the butterfly is. Art is also the humility to know we can't."Yap, on art

"Yap's art is an extension of his autism, which is uniquely his and is seen through a mathematical lense." Mary Simpson, CEO of Spectrum ASD

"With a strong idea of how it may work, Yap uses fine line and wash to make images that are reminiscent of expressive work from the middle of the last century. The psychological touch is almost confident as the work allows a particular artistic practice to run alongside other philosophical and mathematical matters." - Sacha Craddock, Curator