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Coleg Menai Students Double Up on National Student Drawing Awards

The quality of Grŵp Llandrillo Menai’s Art departments was further cemented recently, after the two winners of the ‘Sir Kyffin Williams Drawing Prize’ student competition – which garnered dozens of entries from across Wales, England and abroad – were both announced as Coleg Menai Bangor students!

20-year-old Zack Robinson and 19-year-old Orestas Norkus – who both live in Caernarfon – were awarded the two national prizes and £1,000 each. Zack currently has an exhibition at the Galeri in Caernarfon too.

The prestigious drawing competition is held every three years with £3,000 awarded to the open prize winner and £1,000 awarded to each of the student prize winners. Its aim is to promote and reward excellence and talent in drawing practice in Wales. This year the prize for the open competition went to renowned artist Eleri Mills, for her ink drawing entitled ‘In the Valley – Towards the Bridge’.

The Sir Kyffin Williams Drawing Prize was established by the Sir Kyffin Williams Trust and Oriel Môn, in partnership with The National Library of Wales and the The National Museum of Wales, in memory of Wales’s most prolific and best-loved artist who sadly passed away in 2006.

The winning art work of Eleri Mills, Zack Robinson and Orestas Norkus, along with the pieces produced by other shortlisted artists, took centre stage at the recent Kyffin Williams Drawing Prize Exhibition at Oriel Môn in Llangefni.

Zack Robinson is studying for his BA (Hons) Fine Art degree at the college’s Parc Menai facility. He was asked to create artist-inspired work that was important to him by his tutor as part of his coursework. It had to be in black and white, but still capture the depth in the picture. The painting he chose to imitate was one of most famous paintings by Dutch master Van Gogh: 'Wheat Field with Cypresses'.

Zack, who went to Brynrefail High School in Llanrug, said: “I really didn't think I would win. It's such an amazing feeling to be able to win a competition so important, established in memory of Wales's best-loved artist.”

Orestas Norkus is studying on the Art Foundation: Diploma in Foundation Studies course. The winning piece by Orestas is an architectural drawing called ‘Des Attentes Elevees’ (High Expectations).

Orestas explained more: “My interest in architecture and the structure of different buildings started as I grew up in Lithuania. My art is inspired by my studies into different structures around the world and how shapes and linear forms create an impression on the spectator.”

Since the outset of the prize, the number of artists applying has increased considerably, with candidates entering from all over Wales and England, as well as from abroad. This year has been particularly challenging with the pandemic forcing galleries and museums to temporarily close. However, despite two lockdowns, the prize was still able to attract over 150 applicants with 63 of the best drawings chosen for the exhibition.

David Meredith, chairman of the Sir Kyffin Williams Trust said, “It has given the Kyffin Williams Trust great pleasure to work in partnership with Oriel Môn to organise the Drawing Prize again this year.

“What inspires us all are Sir Kyffin’s basic creative principles, and his emphasis on the importance of the skill of drawing. As long as we can, the Trust will continue to extend the life enriching blessing of artistic creativity.”

This year’s ’Kyffin Williams Drawing Prize’ judging panel were: Lisa Taylor, Owein Prendergast, Gareth Parry and John Smith, and it was chaired by David Meredith.