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Meet Kialy Tihngang

The Hari Art Prize, in collaboration with A Space For Art is poised to become an integral part of The Hari London’s annual rolling art programme, celebrating the global roster of artistic talent attracted to London.

In 2023, from a list of over 1000 applicants, a short list of 20 artists were chosen by an elite panel of judges overseen by Dr. Aron Harilela, CEO and Chairman of Harilela Hotels Ltd. The three finalists were then announced at a VIP award event at The Hari on 15 November 2023, including winner Kialy Tihngang!

Read all about her below…

Tell us a little bit about yourself?

I’m an interdisciplinary visual artist working in textiles, sculpture, video, photomontage, costume and set design. I also work a lot in collaboration with dancers, actors and musicians to create fully realised worlds. I’m British-Cameroonian and I’m from Reading, but I’ve lived in Glasgow since 2017.

Could you tell us about your overall experience participating in The Hari Art Prize?

The application process was very easy, so I kind of just applied and then forgot about it. When I got the email saying I’d been shortlisted, but realised I couldn’t afford the trip to London the Hari very kindly put me up in their beautiful hotel and covered my travel. The whole experience felt (and still feels) like a dream.

Why did you feel it was important to enter The Hari Art Prize and where did you hear about the competition?

I heard about the prize through The Shock of the Now, a weekly art newsletter by Hector Campbell, one of the judges for the prize. It felt important to apply for a prize that entrusts artists to use the prize money in a completely self-directed way, which for me felt like the best way to support myself as an artist. I’m a full time artist and I’d really been stretching myself thin taking on unsustainable amounts of new work and not really having a work/life balance, so the prize gave me some much needed time to pause, and plot my next steps.

How did you feel winning The Hari Art Prize?

I genuinely went into the application process with no expectations, and even when I was shortlisted, I was just expecting to have a fun night out in London and meet some other artists, so the overall experience feels completely unreal, especially considering the calibre of shortlisted artists!

What is the story behind your winning piece?

I’m very interested in extractive neo-colonial practices like mining, and how corporations from the Global North drain resources from the Global South at a rate that feels almost comically villainous. I started imagining what these neo-colonial supervillains’ lairs might look like in the future, by thinking back to past research I had conducted into colonial portraiture. I was interested in the recurrence of colonial funders being painted with luxurious versions of nautical instruments, aka instruments of further colonialism. I began making ‘luxurious’ versions of mining equipment of laser cut wood and fabric from cut up charity shop clothes: sculptures which imagined desk toys for supervillain lairs.

What are your thoughts on the other pieces shortlisted?

As I said before I was completely in awe of the quality of the other finalists’ work, to the point that I didn’t even think I had a chance of winning. I’d been following Bo Sun’s work for a while so I was completely surprised that he was a finalist. And I got introduced to Nicole Burnay’s incredible experimental ‘photographic’ processes. Most of all everyone was just super friendly and not at all the sort of intimidating art crowd you might expect from such a talented group.

What do you plan to do with the prize money?

It’s all very unglamorous! I’ve paid off some debt and haven’t had to worry about rent for the past couple of months, which as a self-employed artist, is a huge, huge luxury. I’ve also been able to support my practice as I work on my next project, which is a duo show of video and sculpture with Josie KO, commissioned by Glasgow International.

Are there any upcoming projects you want to talk to us about?

The Glasgow International show is the next big thing! It’s been such a luxury to just work on one project at a time, thanks to the Hari Prize, so I think it’s going to be my best work yet. It will open in May.

Would you recommend The Hari Art Prize and encourage others to enter next year? If so, why?

I absolutely would. The application process is very accessible and the lovely team from A Space For Art are on deck if you need a hand. It’s cheesy to say but you have nothing to lose (literally – it’s free, unlike many other art competitions with much smaller prizes) and everything to gain.

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