One of Yorkshire’s most prestigious annual art exhibitions has attracted a record number of entries this year.

The acclaimed Ones To Watch exhibition at the Sunny Bank Mills Art Gallery in Farsley, between Leeds and Bradford, is now open and runs until April 21. It is focused on talented emerging artists and makers with Yorkshire connections.

Ones to Watch returns to the Gallery for its eleventh year, showcasing some of the most exciting emerging talent Yorkshire has to offer. The exhibition brings together work by artists from across disciplines, from painting to sculpture, film, photography, ceramics, design and more with much of the work available to buy.

It is the first exhibition in which Sunny Banks Mills’ new Arts Director Anna Turzynski has curated since her appointment in January.

Anna commented: “This year’s One’s To Watch has been an amazing introduction to this special gallery and I have been blown away by both the quality and the quantity of the entries. It was an incredibly difficult job for the judges to whittle down the original record 204 entries to the 40 now on show. Some tremendous art missed out.

She explained: “The exhibition is for artists who either study in, or are from, Yorkshire. We have extended the scope this year to include artists who are studying at independent art colleges, such as the Feral Art School in Hull, or are leaving alternative arts education, such as those who are self-taught.

The exhibition explores topics across politics, the environment, history, culture, social issues and sexuality and is also representative of one of the core values of the Gallery, supporting and mentoring regional artists by providing them with space to exhibit, sell and make work.

This year sees the introduction of the BLANK _ Award 2024 in partnership with Leeds City College Art and Design, which will enable the Gallery to display art in the centre of Leeds for the first time, while the Visitors’ Choice Prize provides an artist with space at Sunny Bank Mills in which to work. This is a valuable resource after graduation and helps to retain talent in the region.

Two of the artists taking part in One’s To Watch are Edd Jones and Hajab Zainab.

Edd, a student at the Hull-based Feral Art School, has contributed three stunning Hull-inspired works, Watching The Fishing Boat Leave At Night, Humber Bridge and View Across The Humber, all capturing the magic of the Humber and its impact on the cityscape of Hull.

He explained: “Since 2021 I have been developing my skills through classes with Feral Art School in Hull. These classes have allowed me to explore different mediums and approaches. I am currently part of their fellowship programme, while also exhibiting at the Skulk at Brew in Bond Street in the city. The tutors at Feral encouraged me to exhibit and I liked the fact Ones To Watch was open to students taking informal classes for the first time. This has given me a tremendous opportunity.

“Watching The Fishing Boat Leave At Night was created using acrylic paint on wooden board during a class at Feral where we had to pull a random phrase out a hat and develop a piece based on it. Humber Bridge and View Across The Humber are based on pictures I have taken in the area where I live. Both of these are oil pastel based. This is my preferred medium as I love the control and immediacy I can get from it.”

Hajab Zainab, who lives in Heckmondwike and studied at the Huddersfield College of Art and Design, having moved to the UK from Pakistan five years ago, is delighted to be part of Ones To Watch.

“The warmth and support I have received in this country for my art has been amazing. It’s something I just didn’t experience in my Pakistan homeland. Here my ideas and my way of working is properly understood and being part of this amazing exhibition just underlines this.”.

Hajab has submitted a trio of intensely personal pieces, dominated by a gorgeous image of a female in a pose of supplication, reminiscent in its grace and beauty of Anthony Gormley’s Angel Of The North. As she explained, her art is a product of a wide range of influences, including cultural, historical and technical. Her use of pixels is especially imaginative.
“In my work, I try to dissolve the boundaries separating different artistic disciplines, sparking discussions on the interconnectedness of identity and heritage. By infusing elements of my own cultural heritage, I create a dialogue to transcend geographical borders and invite viewers to question their assumptions about art and its significance in our lives.”

Anna Turzynski concluded: “Overall, this is an incredibly immersive exhibition, both in terms of the quality of the work on display and in the power of some of that work to stop you in your tracks. The talent and the potential of this year’s Ones To Watch are amazing.”

Ones To Watch is open in the Gallery, Sandsgate Building, Sunny Bank Mills, Farsley, LS28 5UJ, Tuesday-Saturday 10-4, Sunday 12-4 until April 21. Closed on Mondays. FREE ENTRY.