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Photographic print of a tree
Founders Awards 2022
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Natasha Connell
Natasha Connell
Lil Dios
Amber Jesson
Lil Dios
Marisa Santos

Bethlem Founders Award 2022

20 December 2023 – 15 March 2024
The Long Gallery, Maudsley Hospital

(To visit the Long Gallery, please go to the reception at the Maudsley Hospital – there they can let you in and direct you to the Gallery corridor.)

Bethlem Gallery presents a new exhibition by the winners of the 2022 Founders Prize Award.

The Founders Award is an annual award open to artists in their first year of submitting work to the Bethlem Art Fair. For 2022, the award was judged by Errol Francis, artistic director and CEO of Culture&

The three artists who were awarded the 2022 prize are Natasha Connell, Lil Dios and Amber Jesson, and they are joined in this exhibition by Highly Commended artist Marisa Santos.

Featured artists

Natasha Christy Connell

Natasha Christy Connell was born in and lives in London. She studied an art and design Foundation degree at City and Guilds of London Art school. Since then she has had her work shown on numerous occasions in the Sharp gallery in Brixton and in the light box gallery in Peckham, as well as being part of online exhibitions. Her work focuses on portraits, colour, emotion and semi realism and more.

Connell says: “Portraiture has been something I have loved since fifteen. I was interested in artists such as Juan Francisco Casas, Gillian Wearing and Chuck Close. I like to work from photos but also work from life. I have always been interested in the relationship between photography and drawing. Colour came after that for me. I use perspective in my work and often try to gain an accurate representation of the person, place, creature or thing I attempt to portray. This is important to me as I create and capture new memories in my own style. Giving birth to a picture of an image in a new way. I have explored paint, pens, and pencils. All give a different feel and vibe. I hope the portraits create a sense of being drawn in, a sense of everyday people having worth and strength.”

Amber Jesson

Adopting the reflective nature of walking as a restorative practice and a journey to self-discovery, Jesson’s practice explores transformation, our origins, feminine power, and the traces which we leave behind. Travelling on foot to sacred sites and areas in which the veil between land and person feels indistinct is where she situates herself. It is within these spaces, surrounded by what she describes as ‘the feminine powers that exist within the land. I walk, I heal, I breathe’.

Documenting these moments of self-reflection through designing and making her own peculiar pinhole cameras, an elementary device which sees and seizes without complex mechanics, Jesson attempts to cross the threshold between the seen and unseen. Light transcends through sacred spaces just as light is her medium contained within her cameras, a ‘womb-like vessel’ in which transformation, growth and emergence occurs. For her, that parallel is fundamental.

She finds an intimacy in which she is able to draw upon the feminine power of all those who have come before her, the boundaries between past, present and future merging. Her photographs are not to be understood as memories however, but rather as moments that go beyond time and space, impressionistically collected upon a single image.

Lil Dios

Lil Dios is an artist whose small-scale minimal drawings eloquently illustrate a monumental strange new reality. The drawings depict figures often isolated or as part of a dystopian community who adorn animal masks or are depicted as otherworldly characters.  

Dios says that his work explores the ‘struggles that one man goes through in life’. He does not directly state the drawings are autobiographical yet alludes to the fact his life has had many challenges along the way. Dios’s playful use of perspective and considered use of line has become his language to interpret and narrate the complex world around him. 

Marisa Santos

Marisa Santos was awarded a Highly Commended award during last year’s Art Fair. She is an expressive bold colourist painter who uses a language of simple linear abstraction to produce bold joyful paintings. Santos paints on board, but this year has begun working on a more ambitious scale on canvas. 

The artist does not title the works yet often there are figures or objects within the strong geometric cubism-like compositions. There is a definitive style to Santos’s work with her signature use of neon colours alongside strong black lines. 

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