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Wednesday, 22 May, 2002, 06:12 GMT 07:12 UK
Art prize eludes van man
Work by Ben Long
Long claims the works can last for months
An artist who draws in the dirt on vans has lost out in the final stages of a major illustrating competition.

Ben Long, 23, was shortlisted alongside leading art figures after submitting videos of his works.

The winner of the 10,000 Pizza Express Prospects contemporary drawing prize was named on Tuesday as Ian Davenport, for his wall illustration.

The judging was led by pop artist Peter Blake, who designed the famous cover for the Beatles' Sgt Pepper album.

Some people are very intimidated by the idea of going to art galleries

Ben Long

An exhibition opened at the Essor Gallery Project Space in London on Tuesday to show the work of the 70 shortlisted finalists, which also includes famous children's book illustrator Quentin Blake.

The works that were up for the award used digital technology, light and video as well as conventional drawing media.

Davenport, 35, from Peckham, south-east London, won with a lined wall drawing in the style of British designer Paul Smith.

Susie Allen, a director with Artwise, which helped mount the exhibition in two converted railway arches near London's Tate Modern gallery, praised Davenport's work.

Breathtaking work

"It's incredibly beautiful. It's sublime. Everyone recognised that it's a really beautiful piece.

"It completely takes your breath away.

"He did it on-site. It took four days to create. The judges recognised he normally works on canvas but this is the first time he's done a wall drawing."

Ian Davenport's winning work
Ian Davenport's work resembles something by Paul Smith
Ms Allen said the variety of the work on display and the different media used also challenged the traditional concepts of drawing.

"People normally see it as a pencil and paper but this completely blows that theory out of the water," she added.

Long produced his striking images on the back of vans by inscribing them in the dirt and exhaust deposits on the coach work.

Before the announcement, he told BBC News Online that he was moved to start in the unusual medium after becoming disenchanted with gallery-based projects.

Intimidating art

"It came to me once I'd finished a massive conceptual exhibit at college, which took about five months.

"It was a success but it got me thinking about who actually goes to galleries.

"Some people are very intimidated by the idea of going to art galleries, so I thought it might be interesting to turn things round," he said.

Having started work on vans, the submission and exhibition of the works proved to be a hurdle.

"They originally intended to put a van in the gallery. Not only were there logistical problems, I thought it was a contradiction of my original idea."

'Problematic'

Videos of Mr Long at work were submitted instead "so I haven't taken a van away from its job", he said.

The preservation of the designs can be problematic, but the artist claimed that unless they are washed off they can last for months.

"Some van drivers have even backed two vans together to try to preserve the works," said Mr Long.

Organisers were impressed with Long's work and that it effectively made his art a "travelling show" and said they looked forward to seeing how he developed in the future.

There were 800 entrants and the 2,000 student prize was won by Susan Collis, 45, who lives in London and studies at the Royal College of Art.

See also:

19 May 02 | Entertainment
22 May 01 | Entertainment
23 Sep 00 | Entertainment
10 May 99 | Entertainment
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