Kerri is moving forwards

ConnectionYou have to admire not just the skill but also the tenacity of artist Kerri Pratt.

She is a woman who knows her own mind, has a plan and has set out to achieve it.

It wasn’t always the case though, for Kerri, 46, was a teenager who dropped out of A-levels with no real clue as to what she wanted to do and drifted between jobs for the first part of her life, with a vague idea she wanted to be creative.

Life gave her a second chance and she not only studied A-level art but got a first class honours degree in Fine Art at the University of Derby three years ago.

And now it has been announced that she is the sixth winner of Derbyshire’s prestigious Jonathan Vickers Fine Art Award.

She is particularly proud to be the first winner of the award who was born and bred in the county.

“It’s not bad for someone from Heanor is it?” she declares with a huge grin that testifies her happiness at the achievement.

“It all shows just how much you can under-estimate yourself and what you can do if you push yourself and have a plan.

“I must admit I do need people to remind me sometimes just how far I have come but I fell in love with art and thought this is something I can do with my future.”

“I was excited just to get shortlisted for the award but to win really is a confidence boost.

“This is a great place for me to be in moving my artistic career forwards.

“It means so much to me as it is a rare luxury for an artist to have unimpeded time to submerge oneself in the county and learn the secrets and stories of a place, its past and make connections with the here and now.”

Kerri uses the mediums of painting and print-making. She starts using drawing and photography but she has a abstract approach rather than one trying to produce a realistic photographic image.

She has a curiosity for architectural spaces, unusual forms, patterns and hidden layers.

“I want to make something that has an element of familiarity to intrigue and engage the viewer without fully revealing itself,” she said.

The biennial Jonathan Vickers Fine Art Award engages a rising artist to produce work inspired by Derbyshire’s landscape, heritage and people.  The theme for the sixth award is a Sense of Place with a focus on Our Treasure Houses.

Kerri’s initial thoughts are to explore the idea of the resources in our landscape as the treasure, but as she says it is early days and she is still getting used to the idea she has won the residency.

“It will somehow be based on my background. As I come from a mining town I want the work to reflect my encounters with places and relics from the area.

“I really can’t wait to get started as in the past I have always been juggling family commitments and work and now I have a period of time where I can be completely focused on my art and I know my work will benefit from that.”

Kerri lives in Heanor with her husband Lee, who she went to primary school with, and their son of 21 and 17-year-old daughter.

For the last two years she has been working out of the Harrington Mill Studios in Long Eaton and working part time at Derby College. Now she will be moving full time to Banks Mill in Derby.

While reflecting on her journey Kerri recalls the day she returned to education and her A-level art class.

The tutor was so inspiring and that made all the difference. She walked into the class with a shopping trolley full of art materials and loved experimenting with the different techniques.

“I just thought ‘I can’t stop now I have to carry on’ and this is the result. I can’t stop now either – this is definitely the start of the next stage of my work,” she said.

To find out more about the Jonathan Vickers Award go to http://www.vickersartaward.co.uk

Kerri has a solo exhibition at the Tarpey Gallery at Castle Donington until September 20.