Art’s next gen now: meet the finalists

Who made the cut? As the exhibition prepares to launch, meet the Converse x Dazed EAA 2015 finalists

After an onslaught of applications, our search for the most exciting art talent of 2015 has uncovered a clutch of future stars. With a £1,000 production grant to make brand new work, our finalists are making plans for an epic exhibition at the prestigious Royal Academy of Arts from 18 April. Just before the show opens to the public, our judges will reconvene to decide who will take home the £5,000 top prize. 

With artists selected for their ambitious and original ideas, our panel – consisting of Royal Academy artistic programmes director Tim Marlow, gallerist Javier Peres, artists José Parlá and Steven Claydon, Glasgow International director Sarah McCrory and Dazed’s visual arts editor Francesca Gavin – have a tough choice on their hands.

Meet the artists in their studios in our film, and find out what to expect at their show, with tips from this year’s curator Susanna Davies-Crook. She promises that “with incidental thematics coming together, the show as a whole will be on that perfectly keen knife-edge between brilliant and bonkers.” For a chance to meet and greet with the finalists in person, they’ll be doing a lighting talk – presenting 20 slides in 20 seconds – with MoreUtopia! on 20 April. The exhibition will be open until 17 May. We just can’t wait.


From cement pineapples to ceramic frankfurters, Trayte sculpts, casts and paints exotic foods in unorthodox materials and lurid colours. Nestling sculptures among non-art objects such as strange collectables and stuffed animals, he presents his work in dizzying installations that take your breath away.

What reaction do you want your work to prompt?

Jonathan Trayte: There is something extravagant and fetishistic about it. I want it to be vibrant but also a bit overwhelming. It should sit on the edge of taste. I want it to be borderline nauseating. 

What are your cultural obsessions?

Jonathan Trayte: One of my favourite films is Wim Wenders’ Paris, Texas. He uses epic landscapes as a means of describing how lost the protagonist is – the colours are to die for.

What can we expect from your Royal Academy show?

Jonathan Trayte: I want to create a multilayered experience like a spectacular junkshop, a never-ending candy store or a Middle Eastern bazaar. It will be a place for visitors to lose themselves in.

Curators tip: Jonathan has become a one-man factory for casting organic produce from giant marrows formed in cement fondue to high gloss ceramic squash... and there's one sculpture that will be installed in the foyer that should cause some keen interest.


Green-obsessive Pimm’s work probes the fragile boundary between nature and tech by exploring the interaction between plants and the technologies that improve their performance. Her Royal Academy installation will trace the journey of genetically engineered rubber tree clones from tiny seeds to the soles of your shoes.

Tumblr is an influence on your work. Which are your faves?

Rachel Pimm: My favourite ones are obscure science journals like basically bryophytes, which has macro-photos of moss and lichen – the oldest land plants that migrated from the oceans.

What are your obsessions?

Rachel Pimm: Eco design like Plumen lightbulbs and kitchen surfaces made from beer bottles.I am interested in the hypocrisy of these things. Some are real heroes, and some are designed to make us feel better about how we interact with the world.

What’s it like being an emerging artist in Britain?

Rachel Pimm: It’s difficult, because no one will support you except for yourself. It’s something you should only do if you have to do it.

Curator’s tip: Rachel is tracing the history and ecology of rubber as a plant and as a material from the UK to India and back again. She’s exploring its central role as part of a globalised manufacturing process that manifests in everyday materials.


Multimedia artist Lek uses video-game software to create utopian worlds which unfold as a series of downloads, videos, games and installations. He leads his viewers through fantasy digital spaces to uncover a host of hidden zones, concealed objects and cyclical patterns that wreak havoc with our perception of place.

What can we expect from your Royal Academy exhibition?

Lawrence Lek: I’m going to digitally simulate the exact same spot that the audience is already standing in. With my simulations there is an aspect of science fiction, but they’re very close to reality.

What is your biggest musical influence?

Lawrence Lek: David Bowie and Brian Eno’s ‘Berlin’ trilogy. The combination of optimism and existential dread really gets to me.

What’s it like being an emerging artist in Britain?

Lawrence Lek: I recently bought a copy of the manuscript of TS Eliot’s The Waste Land. The introduction is just pages of him trying to get his poems published – it brought home that the economic struggle has always been there.

Curator’s tip: Lawrence's interactive installation will be a virtual simulation of the RA, showing the building's potential future as a sold-off privately owned luxury estate. I can't wait to control my path through this imagined version of a future not totally removed from the realm of probability. 


Collaborative duo Snow and Tynan construct cold, slick industrial spaces, ripping modernist buildings out of context and remaking them from faux materials. Their striking architectural environments unsettle and disturb, challenging the political and ideological underpinnings of social spaces.

Where do you find inspiration?

Tamsin Snow and Sarah Tynan: Ernő Goldfinger’s 1960s utopian vision for post-war architecture. Brutalist architecture demanded form follow function – we’re fascinated by its legacy today.

What else?

Tamsin Snow and Sarah Tynan: JG Ballard’s ideas are a big influence. We love his novel, High Rise, about a block of flats where all amenities are present for a hermetic life. We like to draw on total architecture, where everything relevant to the subject exists in the fabric of one building.

What’s your tip for surviving as an emerging artist?

Tamsin Snow and Sarah Tynan: Surround yourself with exciting, rigorous artists. If you’re going to be an artist then it has to be about sacrifice and working really hard.

Curator’s tip: Tamsin Snow and Sarah Tynan are into immersive environments. For the RA they are sculpturally re-enacting a Multi-Faith room and in doing so create a space for the contemplation of architecture and utility.


Fresh from his MFA at Glasgow School of Art, performance artist Cole uses satirical storytelling and black humour to draw us into dystopian worlds. Performing inside elaborate sets littered with symbols, he asks us to piece together the logic of his surreal performances from the clues that surround us.

What’s your creative process?

Patrick Cole: I’m a real gatherer of information and I absorb as much as possible. I like forcing together Terry Gilliam and cowboy culture with Samuel Beckett and Seinfeld.

What influences you? 

Patrick Cole: I’m really into stand-up comedy, particularly the really strange stuff. Watching Andy Kaufman on HBO throw his set and lose his audience only to bring them back by playing the bongos insanely well is a highlight for me.

What can we expect from your Royal Academy exhibition?

Patrick Cole: I’m making an installation about the brutality of medieval society. It’ll follow a narrative, but will be part- scripted and part-ad-libbed, a bit like Curb Your Enthusiasm.

Curator’s tip: Patrick Cole’s Ruin will be part medieval castle, part introspective monologue. Having read his script notes, it will be great to see his performance come to life. I'm looking forward to watching the interplay between his theatrical set and his delivery in front of an audience.

The Emerging Artists Award 2015 is free entry and opens from 18 April to 17 May at Burlington Gardens, Royal Academy of Arts

Reserve your place at the lighting talk with MoreUtopia! and all the finalists by clicking here. The event will take place on 20 April, 2015 from 7-9pm