Olubunmi Agusto has emerged a winner of the 2023 Mansfield-Ruddock Art Prize, an award funded by the Ruddock Foundation for the Arts, alongside Paige Diedrick-Edwards.
The Mansfield-Ruddock Art Prize was established in 2019 and annually purchases one graduate and one undergraduate piece from the Ruskin School of Art degree show for the Mansfield College collection of contemporary art. Generously facilitated by Mansfield alumnus Sir Paul Ruddock, its object is to open up new conversations around contemporary art, to inspire students and visitors, and to support some of the many talented artists emerging from the Ruskin School of Art.
Born 1999, Olubunmi Agusto is a Nigerian artist, writer, curator and art historian focusing on fantasy storytelling within West African context. Her practice explores psychology, cultural theory and the evolution of selfhood through the lens of fantasy. Her works combine drawing, painting, and printmaking as they tell the stories of the inhabitants of a surrealist wonderland in her mind called “Within.” The indigenous inhabitants of this world are hybrids whose human form is combined with elements she finds integral to her sense of self and cultural consciousness. Non-Hybrid humans are also present in Within as family members, friends and passersby in the artist’s waking life are subsumed into the world through encounters and begin to occupy the role of cross-reality migrants in her mind.
Amanda Levete CBE, an architect; Matthew Slotover OBE, the businessman and founder of the Frieze Art Fairs; and Stephanie Straine, the Senior Curator of Contemporary Art at the National Galleries of Scotland, made up the judging panel for this year’s award.
Regarding the prize Principal Helen Mountfield KC said, “I am delighted to congratulate this year’s winners of the Mansfield-Ruddock Art Prize. Bunmi and Paige’s artistic talent and creative vision have truly captivated us. For the fifth year running, Mansfield has been able to acquire exciting contemporary works of art by up-and-coming artists from the Ruskin School, and it is a joy to see the Prize stimulating curiosity and interest from our own students. We’re grateful to the Ruddock Foundation for the Arts, our judges, and the Ruskin School of Art for enabling this exciting collaboration to take place.”
Sir Paul Ruddock, supporter of this prize, said, “My wife and I are pleased to support this Prize at Mansfield College, which serves the dual purpose of providing valuable assistance to artists graduating from the Ruskin School, and enabling the College to build an exciting collection of contemporary art. I would like to offer my sincere congratulations to this year’s winners, Bunmi and Paige, who I know impressed the judges with their talent and originality.”
Upon receiving the award, Bunmi said, “I am so excited to be selected the winner of this year’s Mansfield Ruddock Art Prize. I am a big fan of previous recipients of this award and it is an honour join them in attaining this accolade. My year at Oxford has been very influential for me, so I am also very happy that Mansfield College will be acquiring this work.”
Through displaying works by Ruskin students in the College setting, Mansfield strives to open up new conversations and debates around contemporary art to inspire its students and visitors, and importantly, to support some of the many talented emerging artists graduating from the Ruskin School of Art.
Olubunmi Agusto’s ‘Reaching Through Worlds’ (2023) has subsequently been acquired by Mansfield College.