Sheila wins Threadneedle prize and £25k

A Derry artist has won a whopping £25,000 after winning the prestigious Threadneedle art prize.

Sheila Wallis, who is originally from Pennyburn, was announced as the winner at the gala awards dinner last night. She beat off stiff competition from seven other talented artists after almost two weeks of online voting.

Her self portrait, described as “unusual, delicate and sensitive, naked, curled-up on rumpled sheets”, scooped her the prestigious award.

Sheila was born at the height of the Troubles, and her work is partly inspired by themes of internal and external conflicts and the vulnerability and exposure which marks the human condition. She tried to express these themes by painting the naked body.

Sheila said she wants her paintings to “convey the vulnerability of exposure without being exploitative or cruel… [the subject] is aware of the scrutiny, but is not subjugated, objectified, nor dismissive of it. Essentially alone, all objects and paraphernalia other than the body and the surface it rests upon are removed, presenting a small, naked creature, not the classic ‘nude’.”

The former St Cecilia’s College pupil now lives in Epsom, England, where she works for the NHS as a support worker for adults with learning disabilities.