Leonard James Little Fine Art Prize


2018 Winner - Stephen Barr

The Leonard James Little Fine Art Prize for 2018 was presented to Stephen Barr. Helen Wewiora, Director of Castlefield Gallery judged the prize. Her comments were:

“Firstly, thank you for asking me to select for that. I really enjoyed selecting an award that wasn't a Castlefield Gallery award or Programme, and it was an honour to do that for the family. I hope they agree that I did a good job and please pass on personal thanks from me and the Gallery, to them.  

I selected Stephen's work as I liked the way as a painter he expanded the definitions of painting with his work. Also his command of colour and form is strong and shows great promise. Overall it felt like developed work, and that he has a bright future ahead of him.”



Work above by Stephen Barr.


Personal statement to Little Family:

"Thank you so much for awarding me this prize, it really does mean a lot, the end of a degree course can be an uncertain time and recognition of this kind is a massive honor and confidence boost. As a mature student, I had made the decision to make a major change in my life and follow a new career path, doing so with excitement and some apprehension.

To my great delight I found my time at MMU better than I could have hoped and was made to feel very welcome and part of the year by the other students. Their energy and creativity was a huge influence on the way that I have approached my work and I am sure that this was the same for Leonard."


Artist statement:

"I am interested in the process and material properties of oil painting; my work questions the relationship between making and looking; combining the emergent properties of different methodologies to examine how painting operates. The interplay between structure and open expanses, line and form combine with contrasting colours; this is done in individual pieces but also across multiple connected works. By separating then recombining different elements of painting, I lead the viewer to focus on each element and to consider how they influence each other.

Systems and structures are present at the beginning of my work and are either reinforced or acted against, self-imposed limitations within the painting surface take on significance as they physically influence the making, considerations of restriction and reaction are foremost."


Thanks for award statement:

"Winning this prize is an unexpected honour and is particularly welcome coming from the Leonard James Little fund, set up in honour of a highly successful mature student to support fine art students. I hope to replicate some of the success that Leonard enjoyed and after being lucky enough to benefit from the optimism and energy of the younger students this prize will allow me to continue to the next stage of my career."


2017 Winner - Omid Asadi

The Leonard James Little Fine Art Prize was presented to Omid Asadi on Friday 9th June 2017. Poppy Bowers from the Whitworth Art Gallery who judged the prize, made these comments about his work:

"Omid struck me as having the ability to produce work that plays with traditional notions of sculpture, such as balance, weight, mass and space, whilst resonating with the political and social conditions of our time. I was particularly drawn to his video piece in which a person is caught in the impossible challenge of balancing on an upright but rootless tree trunk. Trees have been used by many contemporary artists, such as Charles Ray or Giuseppe Penone, as extensions of the human body. I think Omid’s work draws from that history to offer a sober reflection on today’s fast-moving social spaces and current ideas of migration. I very much look forward to seeing what Omid does next and wish him very well for the future."


2017 winner


Omid Asadi

Omid is a former engineer and champion boxer from Iran, now an artist based in the UK. He practices different disciplines through his art to investigate complex issues concerning identity. His recent works deal with tangled emotions of self-alienation, loss and frustration as a result of immigration and conflict. Even though you can trace Omid’s works in specific socio-political situations, there is always more to it. Growing up in Iran, he is influenced by the rich Persian literature thus sometimes his poetic approach in making art is sensible.


Omid's comments: "This prize means a lot to me, it gives me confidence and the encouragement to continue my path to create art. This Prize completed my achievement in these three years and created a good memory for me. Thank you to the Little family for their big support."


2016 Joint Winners - Sarah Kasumi Dean and Rebecca Halliwell Sutton

The Leonard James Little Fine Art Prize was presented to joint winners Sarah Kasumi Dean and Rebecca Halliwell Sutton on Friday 10th June 2016. The judges comments about their work were:

"I was immediately struck by the irreverent sense of play in Sara Kasumi Dean work;

unexpected relationships between throwaway and handmade objects. In the work I selected, she has collected cardboard tubes in varying lengths and leaned them up against the white gallery wall. For the top end she has made roughly sewn stuffed fabric shapes and squeezed them into the opening; the bottom end is painted, colour-blocked with a benign pale blue and orange segment emulating the scale of our own limbs. Each a different height and grouped in clusters, it is easy to anthropomorphise the assemblage, or perhaps, more broadly, she is encouraging us to question wider issues around conceptual art, the white cube gallery and the cultural understanding we bring to these objects and their context."

"Rebecca Halliwell Sutton’s works are striking, bold and skillfully crafted. An approximately 3 meter column is carved from what looked like pink Italian marble. Another grey concrete column positioned on its side is on the floor, over it, a silky, fleshy, folded stuffed shape. The opposite textures play off against each other conveying sensual overtones. Only after reading the caption does one realise that she has made the column by pouring concrete of varying colours into a mould; the playfully deceptive nature of the work is revelatory.”


2016 winners2016 winners












Left to right: 2016 winners Sarah Kasumi Dean with Pauline Little and Rebecca Halliwell Sutton with Pauline Little.


Sarah's comments: "Winning the prize was completely unexpected and a massive confidence boost after the intense and uncertain period leading up to the degree show. It is an honor and a privilege to have something I can take forward in to my career as an artist."


Rebecca's comments: "Winning the prize is a such an honour. It is really lovely to receive recognition and it gives me confidence to keep pursuing making art. The prize money will also be a huge help in enabling me to continue making work as it will contribute to materials and research projects. Thank you so much to the Little family and friends."


2015 Joint Winners - Jordan Alex Smith and Sarah Giovanelli

Jordan Alex Smith and Sarah Giovanelli shared the £500 Leonard James Little Fine Art Prize on the 12th June 2015.

The curator Bryony Bond, from the Whitworth Art Gallery was once again brought in to judge and to help select the joint winners.

Leonard's widow Pauline Little, daughter Helena Stubbings and her husband Clive Stubbings attended the prize giving.

2015 winners

Left to right: Sarah Giovanelli and Jordan Alex Smith winners of the 2015 Leonard James Little Fine Art Prize, with Pauline Little in the centre.


2015 was the fifth anniversary of the Leonard James Little Fine Art Prize Prize. The 2012 winner Daniel McMillan very kindly emailed the university with his comments of what winning the prize enabled him to do: 


"A Fine Art student spends three years developing a creative practise. For many this is studio based and not saleable. Upon graduating, art work is put on hiatus, often indefinitely, as the graduate seeks part-time non-art work in order to sustain the former. 


The Leonard James Little Fine Art Prize enabled me to rent a studio immediately after graduating and to carry on engaging with this creative practise. The work made in this studio was included in several UK fine art graduate exhibitions and group exhibitions in the North West.


In 2014 I began working collaboratively with Brighton-based artist Lucas Wilson. Projects have included The Weekend Supplement (an exhibition of work at Cactus Gallery in Liverpool in 2014) and more recently an online image blog hosted at wilsonandwilson.co.uk


Since working collaboratively the focus of my independent practice has shifted towards critical writing. I am currently enrolled on the CVAN NW critical writing programme (a bursary and series of workshops on arts criticism awarded to 25 writers in the North West) and have recently started writing for Corridor8 (a contemporary art and writing journal published both online and in print)."


2014 Winner - Naomi Litvack

Naomi Litvack was awarded with the £500 Leonard James Little FIne Art Prize on 13th June 2014. This same day would have been Leonard's 81st Birthday.

The curator Bryony Bond, from the Whitworth Art Gallery was brought in to judge and to help select the winner.  

Bryony's comments on Naomi's work were: “I was stuck by Naomi Litvack's striking large scale landscapes. Her choice of colour palette and her control of paint are great to see in such a young artist, and her landscapes have a dream-like quality that have a great potential to develop and grow with her continuing practice.”

Leonard's widow Pauline Little, grandson Joshua Sklar, daughters Vicky Sklar and Helena Stubbings and her husband Clive Stubbings attended the prize giving.


Left: Naomi Litvack winner of the 2014 Leonard James Little Fine Art Prize, with Pauline Little.


Naomi commented:"...I was so honoured and so happy to have been awarded the prize - as you can see from my face in those photos! It was a lovely surprise..."

Naomi's comments regarding her work: "I am concerned primarily with the natural world in my work. Natural forms and the lines they make, the colours and tones within them, their texture, the myths surrounding landscape; they all hold a special place in our visual language. They serve as a reference for colours we recognise, forms we recognise and the natural world we mostly learn about through television, the internet and from photographs. I play upon this idea of imagined landscape, exaggerating how these places we have never seen are seen in our mind's eye - a collage constructed from second hand information."



2013 Winner - Helen Wheeler

Helen Wheeler took home the £500 Leonard James Little Fine Art Prize on the 14th June 2013.

The two judges Eleanor Clayton and Stephanie Straine from Tate Liverpool said: "Helen Wheeler's degree show presentation was very striking: extremely refined conceptually, it also had a strongly inventive material presence, with an almost alchemical quality. The relationship between her painting and sculpture was complex yet elegant, and we very much enjoyed the play of scale that allowed small sculptures to suggest vast, science-fiction landscapes. We think this work shows great promise for the future and we wish Helen all the best for her upcoming master's degree."

Leonard's widow Pauline Little and youngest daughter Rebecca Little attended the prize giving.

2013 art prize MMU

Left: Helen Wheeler winner of the 2013 Leonard James Little Fine Art Prize,

next to Pauline Little and judges on the right. (work in background not winners). 


Helen gave us her comments on how she felt about winning the prize: "I am delighted to have been chosen as this year's recipient of the Leonard James Little award, it is a huge honour. After speaking with Pauline and Becky, it was so interesting to see the similarities in the paths Leonard and I have taken in our return to Fine Art and I am pleased to say that the money will help towards a Fine Art MA which I will be starting in September at MMU."

Helen's comments about her winning work: "Apocalypse, the sublime, health and entropy are all areas of research that have informed my practice and the materials used within my work often have metaphorical significance.

The sculptural elements in my degree show explore the possibilities of change, the resultant forms having strong parallels with nature on both the macro and micro scale."


2012 Winner - Daniel McMillan

Daniel McMillan took home the £500 Leonard James Little Fine Art Prize for his sculptural work, as chosen by Pavel Pys, from Yorkshire’s Henry Moore Institute on Friday 15th June 2012.

Pavel said: “Daniel’s piece investigates a sculptural language whereby he takes an everyday object and questions its emotive language and relevance to his life as a student. Sculpture has such a rich history that to make something interesting is really quite difficult – this piece shows you can achieve something really strong.”

The piece was made from the noticeboards more commonly used to relay messages to students round the University, and had a strongly temporal quality, with each board to be returned to its original home once the exhibition has ended.

“It is quite emotional to think about all the things put up there and the failures and successes of being a student,” said Pavel.

The annual award is given in memory of Leonard James Little, who studied art at the University, and who died in August 2010 following a stroke.

Leonard’s daughter, Helena Stubbings, attended the awards along with her husband Clive, and her mother, Pauline Little. She said: “I’m really pleased. We’re very happy that Daniel has enjoyed his three years here.”

Art prize 2012

From L-R: Pavel Pys judge from the Henry Moore Institute, Daniel McMillan the 2012 winner of the

Leonard James Little Fine Art Prize with Leonard's widow Pauline and daughter Helena.


Daniel, who is 22 and is originally from Belfast, said he was originally inspired by looking at the parallels between the material fragments in a studio and the art objects that came out as a product of the studio.

He now plans to take on a studio in Belfast over summer before returning to Manchester, and said: “I was very humbled to be chosen.”


2011 Winner - Rima Salem

The first art prize in memory of Leonard, was awarded on Friday 17th June 2011 at the start of the degree show, at the Manchester Metroplitan University, Manchester School of Art, Grosvenor Building.

The family had spent several months in discussion with the Art Faculty and Head of Fine Art David Osbaldeston, deciding on the criteria of the prize. The prize of £500 was to be open to all disciplines, but was to be awarded to a third year graduate and while the art faculty was to provide a shortlist of students, an invited external professional was to select the winner.

The judge for 2011 was Sophie Raikes, the Assistant Curator at the Henry Moore Institute, Leeds. Her comments on the winners work were: "Rima possessed a distinct pursuit of a highly individual and disquieting set of work, containing a striking intensity and a consistently unique aesthetic engagement with process which she had bent to her will".

This was the first award given in memory of Leonard James Little. Leonard’s wife, Pauline Little, attended the awards along with her sister Victoria, three daughters and their husbands, two of her grandchildren and two friends, of which one was a fellow artist on the same course when Leonard did his art degree.

2011 Art Prize winner

Rima Salem, the 2011 winner of the Leonard James Little Fine Art Prize with Leonard's widow Pauline.


"I'm really pleased and honoured to be part of the Leonard James Little Award and it was such a delight to win last year. I used the prize money wisely paying for 2 courses in Hotbed Press. One on hardback book binding and the other was on van dyke brown and cynatype photographic prints. I thoroughly enjoyed both and was so inspired afterwards. I learnt skills to carry with me and I hope to use the processes I learnt in the near future."