● Could you tell us about your experience participating in Wells Art Contemporary (the
call for entries, exhibition, prize, etc.)?
I greatly appreciate the effort that WAC took in response to the difficulties of presenting
the 2020 exhibition. Many online exhibitions can be disappointing, but WAC took the
time and resources to present a virtual exhibition which was as close to the experience
of being in a physical exhibition as possible. This made being part of the Wells Art
Contemporary exhibition an achievement to be proud of.
● Can you tell us about your shortlisted/winning work(s): anything about their material,
their story, why you chose to enter them…?
My triptych, ‘Where Are You Really From?’, is perhaps my most controversial work that I
have produced to date. I truly wanted to push the boundaries of using satire and humour
to inform the contextual rhetoric. Hitherto completing the artwork in 2020, I had loosely
sketched the idea and annotated it in a notebook years ago. I felt that the discussions
around race relations that were occuring last year made it the appropriate time for this
work to be made and the nuances hopefully appreciated.
● What opportunities/benefits did being shortlisted and then winning a prize at Wells Art
Contemporary bring you?
Firstly, being shortlisted from such a large number of entries and having my work
alongside some incredible artists was a privilege. This opportunity led to further visibility
of my practice, helping my work reach a wider audience as a consequence. My practice
looks to confront socio-political issues in modern society; usually pertaining to discourse
apropos to race & identity, so it’s crucial for me that the work can be viewed/critiqued by
a broad audience.
● Could you tell us what you’ve done since the exhibition/would you like to tell us about
any upcoming projects?
Shortly after the exhibition, I received the great news that my Arts Council Project Grant
proposal was accepted. I’ve been working on my project, ‘Bringing Art to Dartford’, which
will enable me to engage with the Dartford community (an area of low engagement with
the arts), ultimately leading to a physical exhibition in the town centre later this year. I’ve
written an in depth explanation of my project on my website blog (at habibhajallie.com).
I’ve also had works accepted for the Royal Cambrian Academy 2021 exhibition and the
Royal Society of British Artists Annual.
● What did winning a prize at Wells Art Contemporary mean to you?
Being one of the prize winners meant a great deal to me, it was a truly significant morale
boost that I needed in the midst of lockdown. With so many exhibitions being
understandably cancelled and rescheduled over the past year, the WAC 2020 online
exhibition & prize giving was something to look forward to and a highlight of 2020 for me.
I think that it's a dream for many artists to have the opportunity to even visit Provence, let
alone have the opportunity to make art in such a historical and beautiful location. This
residency is a career goal that I have had and it was truly unexpected.
● How do you think open exhibitions such as WAC help artists? Do you have any tips for
artists who would like to enter these art awards?
The WAC awards has more prizes on offer than most open calls, as an artist you know
that you have the chance for your work to be seen by several judges and sponsors from
different backgrounds, leading to as fair judging as i believe possible. Applying to open
exhibitions means that you must allow yourself to be vulnerable to a certain extent. The
subjective nature of art is truly wonderful; if you are rejected by one open call, the judges
may change the following year and of course differ across the vast number of
opportunities available, so every ambitious artist has a chance if you keep applying.
Maintaining a positive outlook regarding your practice whether or not you get selected
for open calls is imperative. The worst case scenario is that you lose nothing, best case
scenario you could win a prize that could boost momentum or you get a sale, with further