ABERAERON artist Anna Sellen, who grew up in Soviet Russia, has been nominated for the 2023 New Blood Art Fine Art Prize for her multi discipline artwork based on her family’s experience living under the regime.
The artwork, which she calls ‘Drip by drip, we are fed with concrete,’ explores the psychological effect of living under censorship and the threat of being silenced.
Alongside artists from across the country, Anna’s work is being displayed at the Saatchi Gallery in London until 15 October. The winner will also be awarded there on 15 October.
To create her art series, Anna burned, defaced and buried photos of her family in concrete to create a distorted version of their pictures. She said this symbolises the “agony of constantly living in a state immersed in fear and secrecy.”
Her family lived in the Soviet Union from 1952 to 1986. Her multi discipline artwork also brings their stories to life through photographs, poems and diaries.
“I often work autobiographically, I look at my personal and family history, and then explore wider political and social culture around it. I think this project is quite relevant to today’s politics.”
Referring to the George Santayana quote: ‘Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it,’ Anna explained how the war in Ukraine is a repetition of the history of the past. She said “This project is about surfacing that history.”
Although she works in a variety of artistic disciplines, Anna’s original passion for art came through photography.
“For me the power of the photograph lies in its ability to connect to people, it is a universal language we all understand.”
Although the winner of the New Blood prize hasn’t been announced, Anna said the nomination itself made her feel like a winner.
“Even though I haven’t won the award itself, I feel like I’ve already won by being nominated. The nomination in itself is a massive benefit to me as it opens doors for me, and has allowed me to build a relationship with New Blood Art.”
The Open College of the Arts(OCA) nominated Anna for the award. She graduated from there in 2023 with a first (BA) in Photography.
The college’s Photography Programme Leader, Dan Robinson, said:“Anna’s 'Drip by drip, we are fed with concrete' absolutely stunned the OCA selection panel with its outstanding quality and achievement, as a compelling and innovative physical, online and virtual reality exhibition project — sensitively representing archives, personal histories and geo-politics of the Cold War era.
“We’re absolutely thrilled for Anna as a deserving nominee for the New Blood Art Emerging Art Prize, and she is definitely one to watch!”