December 22, 2002 Article
By our art correspondent ALFRED SHAN De BASS
A little known north eastern artist was last night £20,000 richer after scooping the prestigious Saatchi Prize for Contemporary Art.
Monkseaton-born Jason Woodscrew, 14, was the unanimous choice of the judges, who praised the way his work “embraces the poetic, the logical, the sexual and the sensual, whilst drawing connections between, without and within them.”
The award is welcome news for Tyneside’s bid to be named European City of Culture 2008. Newcastle and Gateshead council spokesman Paul Rubinstein said: “This is a great boost for culture in the region. The Angel of the North, the Millennium Bridge and the Baltic Centre have already marked the north east out as a centre of creativity in the arts. To have these prize-winning artworks on display in the region is just the icing on the cake for the region.”
As usual the award has prompted controversy. Many critics felt that the £20,000 should have gone to 13-year-old Scott Bradawl of Cullercoats for his marker pen on bus shelter piece ‘Angie Does Anal for Tabs’ (1999). However, Bradawl failed to make the shortlist for the third year running.
The winning artworks are on exhibition at the Links shelter, Whitley Bay seafront until February 6th when they will be scrubbed off by a man from the council. Admission free.
What is the artist saying to us in this painting? It seems to me that Woodscrew’s use of the word ‘penis’ establishes him firmly in the art historical tradition of male nude painting. Since the earliest cave paintings, the penis has been a symbol of strength. And yet also of weakness and vulnerability. It smells of apples; that is, it is redolent of the instrument of man’s fall from grace. But at this point Woodscrew delivers his coup de grace. By mis-spelling the word ‘smell’, he challenges the veracity of our senses, causing us to question our notions of truth and being. He leaves us wondering if his penis ‘smels’ at all, and if it does, whether it smells of apples. Or perhaps some other fruit.