Oxford Brookes student wins annual art competition

Thursday, 14 October 2021

Keren Golea

An Oxford Brookes University Fine Art student has won a prestigious international art competition that will see her work feature on the cover of a world-leading Opera House’s tour programme.

Keren Golea, aged 24, won the Glyndebourne Tour Art Competition for 2021, for a piece of work she produced called ‘Emergence’. Keren’s work will now appear on the front cover of several thousand copies of the Glyndebourne Tour Programme.

The competition did not run in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, so 2021 saw the largest ever number of entries from up and coming artists. Entrants had to submit a piece of work under the theme ‘Forces of Nature’, and to create work that can ‘celebrate, represent and question our insolulable relationship to nature’. 

After being announced as the winner, Keren, who is in her third year of studying Fine Art at Oxford Brookes, said: “I was completely ecstatic when I found out that I had won the competition.

“After I painted Emergence I realised I have so much potential within me. Potential that is untapped, dormant, capped, unused and hidden, and that challenged me to go on with the work that I’m doing and release that potential inside me. Although I was a little seed, the potential of being a forest is within me. This competition reminded me of my potential or human potential; that we can always do what we haven’t done yet and that we are our own raw material for greatness.”

A mastery of figurative art

The woman depicted in Keren’s art is a representation of human vulnerability, beauty and resilience. The water, along with the composition of light, represents the natural forces that surround us. 

Glyndebourne curator Nerissa Taysom, said: “This year we have received an extraordinary response to the Tour Art Competition, with entries from 18 different countries. The standard has been exceptionally high and we’ve seen a diverse range of techniques, from painting and printmaking to sculpture, photography and digital art.

“The Tour Art Competition continues to uncover new and emerging talent and we are excited to be showcasing global perspectives on the theme of nature. Keren Golea is a worthy winner. Her painting, Emergence, already demonstrates her mastery of figurative art. Her confident handling of paint, photographic level of detail and exquisite balance of colour transform nature into a revelatory moment.”

Art competition - dominance

Pushing beyond preconditioned boundaries

Keren was born and raised in the Philippines and began painting aged 17. She moved to the UK to study Fine Art and said: “It was a very challenging journey and process for me but I made it through faith and hard work. I went to the UK alone and knew no one - but Oxford and the University’s environment was so welcoming that I was able to adapt to everything really quickly. During the past two years of my stay in the UK as a Fine Art student, I learned a lot, gained valuable skills, met new friends, made genuine connections and discovered more about the country. 

“Being in the School of Arts opened a lot of opportunities for me as an individual. During our tutorials, I would often hear our tutors say, ‘That's an ambitious idea’ and that response reminded me of this line from a reading that we had during our first year: ‘The relation between what we see and what we know is never settled. Each evening we see the sun set. We know that the earth is turning away from it. Yet the knowledge, the explanation, never quite fits the sight.’― John Berger, Ways of Seeing.

“That phrase motivates and challenges me to push beyond the preconditioned boundaries or limits of our mind. Most of the time, the facts that we see are not always the truth. The fact is what other people see but the truth is what we hold within us. It is my desire that our generation would not live our lives relying or dependent on the opinions of others but rather use it as a building block to reach and release our full potential.”

View more of Keren's work on her website