Congratulations to Rebecca Asghar who has won this year’s Mr Heatherly Composition Prize. The award is made annually by our former Principal, John Walton RP, for the best three-figure portrait painting. The competition is based upon the Slade composition prize which John won himself in his youth.
‘My painting, a three figure self portrait, was born out of the epiphany after tutorials with Chris Moock, a realisation that I was driven in life from an inner conflict between the culture of my roots, Bangladesh, and the culture of my birth, London, UK.
This vision came to me just after the summer end of year exhibition which I felt compelled to paint. I had myself photographed in blue light at night time for the first two figures, and in the morning summer sunlight for the last figure with perspective lines converging within the last figure’s head.
The left hand figure wearing a traditional Asian dress represents the culture of my roots or who I believe I am expected to be as regards people both inside and outside the Asian community and family, one of the main reasons I became a lawyer. The right hand figure in Western clothes represents the culture of my birth and the person that I perceive myself to really be.
However, the middle figure, who is trying to cover herself with the scarf of the Asian costume demonstrates that I am in a perpetual state of internal conflict, as she is also trying to escape. There are always choices that I make that indicate my roots identity which are undeniable and inescapable, and yet I desire the birth identity which I perceive to be total freedom of expression, but which is, for me, forever elusive.’