Manchester artist wins first prize at internationally renowned arts exhibition in Catalonia

  • Eccles artist Malcolm Duffin awarded first place for Brontë-inspired triptych 
  • Duffin’s work draws inspiration from nature and the rebellious spirit of people during the pandemic
  • His artwork is now on tour throughout Europe

A Manchester artist has seen his work win stellar recognition after taking first place at a prestigious arts exhibition in Catalonia.

The piece titled ‘Act On’ won at the Association International Duane des les Arts and was originally inspired by the works of Anne Brontë’s poem, Lines Composed From Wood On a Windy Day.

Malcolm Duffin modernised Brontë’s poetic yearn for freedom, directing similar attitude and energy towards the coronavirus pandemic.

Artist Malcolm Duffin 

The Eccles artist made the artwork in the height of lockdown and as he could not travel to the places where Brontë lived turned to the public and asked them to send snippets of nature from her grave or former house such as soil, feathers and flowers via post.

Many of the samples of soil sent to Malcolm managed to make it to the final piece, which stands as a collection of three miniature drypoint landscapes (woods/moor/sea) printed onto embossed paper.

He said: “Awards are great, but they’re not the reason I make art.

“When you make art you’re never in it for the money or awards. Often in art, in particular during the pandemic, you’re working in the dark and so, there’s nobody to critique what you’re doing.

“So, in a sense, the award validates the work, it’s somebody saying ‘I like what you’re doing’.

“The exhibition recognised the fact that it was a very technical piece and they really liked the idea behind it.

“What I attempted to do was to bring people together through art and use the virus as a means of doing so. As a way of making people realise culture carries on.”

Malcolm said the pandemic had a mixed influence on him as an artist: it has been the main driving force behind his work this year, but he has had legitimate concerns both as a father and a diabetic.

“As artists all we are is cyphers for what people are feeling around us and what it means to be human at any given point in time,” he said.

“I could draw butterflies and pretty pictures, but that’s just not where I am at.

“This year has seen some of my best work. It’s been [the pandemic] inspirational as an artist, but that doesn’t mean it is a good thing.

“War can be inspirational for artists, but nobody wants war.”

Act On will tour across Europe as part of the national Library of Catalonia, Barcelona. Duffin’s next work will be again reference Covid-19.

However, he is hoping it will be the mark of a new dawn and at a point where he can draw a line in the sand of the Coronavirus pandemic.