Partnership shines a light on the island's up-and-coming talent.
Idina Moncreiffe with the winning work Moncreiffe Hill
Analysing the creative process is no easy task, but artist Idina Moncreiffe is not fazed when asked to describe hers. “I’m not just trying to capture what I’m painting,” she says. “I’m also capturing the moment when I painted it. That means remaining present and allowing things to happen naturally.”
Things are certainly happening for Moncreiffe. After her work was shown at the CCA Galleries International Jersey Summer Exhibition 2023 , in St Helier, Jersey, she was awarded the gallery’s Summer Prize, sponsored by RBC.
Not only this, but Moncreiffe will now have the chance to stage her own private show at the gallery. She will be helped, in part, by the inaugural RBC Emerging Artist Prize, a £1,000 grant awarded to the Summer Prize winner to help cover the costs of the exhibition.
Moncreiffe, 30, grew up in Jersey and Scotland and is now based in London. Drawing inspiration from a long line of female painters that includes Leonora Carrington, Frida Kahlo and Hilma af Klint, she describes her work as “symbolic surrealism,” with a particular focus on exploring the human connection to – and disconnection from – nature and the mystical.
As for her process, Moncreiffe says that it’s intuitive, almost musical. It involves exploring colours and lines as well as materials. “I started experimenting with linen canvas rather than cotton. And I may paint on to a layer of linseed oil, or natural glue mixed with pigments,” Moncreiffe says. “I like to allow the materials to have their own agency, so I’m not so controlling.”
Of course, being an artist is not just about the hours spent in front of the canvas. As a recent graduate of City and Guilds of London Art School , Moncreiffe understands the struggle that emerging creatives face when it comes to exposure, whether that’s through social media or in dedicated physical spaces.
“Sometimes it’s hard being an artist,” she says. “I don’t want to build myself up from a social media platform. If you are solely focused on that, you can attract the wrong attention, and end up going down inauthentic paths. Social media success should follow on from real life, rather than the other way round.”
Yet there’s often a prohibitive financial and time cost to producing work and getting it seen by a wider audience in the physical world, which is a loss for the general population – the arts is a fundamental part of our cultural lives and social fabric. Artists can help us understand our place in the world, present new ways of looking at urgent social issues, and satisfy our need for escape and enjoyment.
“Supporting the next generation of artists is important for building vibrant communities and strong economies,” says Jennifer Sofianou, director of Sponsorship Events and Citizenship at RBC Wealth Management in the British Isles. “That’s another reason why we try to help them navigate hurdles and gain the exposure and recognition they need to succeed.”
RBC’s partnership with CCA Galleries was a natural fit for the firm, aligning with its global commitment of supporting arts organisations to help emerging artists become established. Its British Isles business already has deep historical relationships with the iconic The Old Vic theatre and South London’s The BRIT School.
Indeed, the CCA Galleries’ Summer Exhibition is the biggest open-call art show within the Channel Islands’ burgeoning art scene. It welcomes all visual art forms, from original prints, paintings and drawings, to architecture, sculpture, film and photography. It’s also judged by artists of international acclaim, with Gavin Turk, Deborah Curtis and Cedric Christie judging 2023’s edition.
Artists from many different backgrounds and experiences shared the exhibition
And it isn’t just about rewarding one winner. Instead, the exhibition serves as a showcase for many emerging and established artists from Jersey as well as farther afield.
“CCA Galleries champions the work of local artists in Jersey and helps to promote and exhibit those artists at every stage of their career,” says David Bailey, head of Strategic Initiatives at RBC Wealth Management in the British Isles. “It’s a natural fit for RBC and we’re delighted to be partnering with them and awarding the inaugural RBC Emerging Artist Prize.”
One early-stage artist showcased this year was Rob Couriard, 34, a technical service analyst at RBC. His piece, the Curious Caterpillar, illustrates how art can be used to improve people’s mental health, as well as what you can achieve by simply picking up a pencil.
“During the COVID-19 lockdown I started to draw more after work, as a type of meditation,” he says. “I’ve continued to do so and this was my first time submitting any work.”
Couriard says that Jersey boasts a “vibrant culture” when it comes to the arts. Indeed, the next Leonora Carrington or Frida Kahlo could be right there on the island, just waiting for the chance to illuminate the world with their talent and perspective.
Moncreiffe is already well on her way to being a rising star in the art world. Her next step is to study drawing at London’s Royal Drawing School and deepen her knowledge of materials in a master’s degree course. She also has the CCA Galleries solo show to plan and stage.
As for the RBC grant, she intends to use it to help purchase materials for new work, particularly pieces in the form of large-scale sculpture. “I have a lot of ideas of things I want to make,” she says.
“All of it takes time and, of course, funding, especially if you want to make big works. So it’s great that emerging artists can have such backing from bigger organisations,” she says. “It keeps the whole creative world alive. And it helps the flow of new and interesting ideas – instead of the art world remaining fixed in the same circles.”