“Strong, thoughtful and unsettling work – an age-old search for artistic truth, in modern dress.” – Laura Gascoigne, freelance critic, commentator on the visual arts and judge for the Galerie Heimat & NG Creative Residency Art Prize on the work of Patrick Morales-Lee.
Announced online by NG Art Creative Residency in November 2020, the Galerie Heimat & NG Creative Residency Art Prize is a new art award for artists working in drawing, painting and mixed media. Awarded by two internationally renowned judges – art critic Laura Gascoigne and curator Kate Bryan – the winner is set to receive a three-week complimentary residency and a three-week solo exhibition at the prestigious Galerie Heimat.
The first recipient of this prize is TNG Member Patrick Morales-Lee, who is a member of the art collective The Contemporary British Portrait Painters (CBPP) and featured in the group’s Perceptions exhibition in 2020. Morales-Lee was originally a student of the painter John Virtue and graduated alongside friend and peer Antony Micallef. In recent years, he has appeared on Sky Portrait Artist of the Year, exhibited in a number of shows, sold work to a handful of well-known collectors and exhibited alongside artists such as Antony Gormley, Anthony Lister, Stanley Donwood, Vhils, Pure Evil and FAILE.
Morales-Lee’s work deals with ideas of identity and belonging. Fostered at the age of three, the artist has always been constantly and acutely aware of his surroundings and the need to fit in. Looking back, he recognises those feelings as universal and now creates work that looks to explore the ‘human condition’, specifically what makes people do what they do to have a sense of belonging – from the everyday to the extreme.
Regarding his work’s subject matter, Morales-Lee explains that “from the schoolyard to being an adult, we constantly look to define ourselves by trying to fit into a group. Aspiring to be one of the ‘cool kids’, aligning yourself with a religious faith or football team, fashion, music, brands and celebrities: the sense of being in a tribe is all around us.”
Through his practice, Morales-Lee looks explores ceremonies, situations and processes, creating snapshot narratives that invite interpretation. Many of his pieces are at once comforting and unsettling. “Much of my inspiration for this work” the artist explains, “is taken from the Christian ceremony of Communion and the idea of transformation, the idea of taking on something new. There is belief in an ‘action’ – the action of taking bread and wine representing the body and blood of Christ. I call this ‘active belonging’, the idea that people will participate physically and mentally in an action, a ceremony, to show to themselves and to others that they believe, that there is meaning in the process, that they aren’t alone, they belong to something – and ultimately giving tangible meaning to their own lives.”
Discussing his recent success in the Galerie Heimat & NG Art Creative Residency Art Prize 2021, Morales-Lee says: “I was truly delighted to have won this art prize, for a number of reasons, the first being the prize itself. A three week residency in the south of France – to have three weeks to 100% concentrate on my practise is going to be huge for me. The prize also includes a three week solo show at Galerie Heimat. I’ve never had an exhibition outside of the UK, so this is very exciting.
“The other main reason it means a lot to me is that it was judged by two very influential art curators/commenters, Laura Gascoigne and Kate Bryan. Both are extremely respected. They really know their stuff, so it’s a real honour to know that, out of all applicants for the prize, they felt my work offered something.”