North at art of a global ambition

Businessman reveals why he put £120,000 into prize venture. By Charles Heslett THE Leeds entrepreneur behind the first art prize solely for the North of England said his ambition was to turn it into an international event.

Dirk Mischendahl told the YEP he hoped to make the Northern Art Prize a fixture in the business and art world's calendar.

The managing director of design and communications firm Logistik Ltd in Armley spoke just before the judging panel for the Leeds-based prize was announced at a glittering ceremony at Leeds City Art Gallery last night.

Mr Mischendahl created the prize with Catherine Blanshard, the chief officer of Libraries, Arts & Heritage at Leeds City Council and the pair have appointed Leeds artist Pippa Hale as the award's director.

The 38-year-old businessman, right, who lives in Chapel Allerton with his wife, has put 120,000 of his own money into the project.

He said: "I'm not doing this to be Titus Salt, I'm not in that league. But there is a philanthropic element to it.

"My belief is that if we don't invest in the arts and nurture that initial creativity, the rest of the city will suffer as often the business world is inspired or follows trends started by the artistic community.

"I want to create a legacy, which is why I have invested at least 120,000 over thee years, and hopefully establish a prize which recognises artists in the Northern region.

"The ambition I have for the Northern Art Prize is for it to be internationally renowned and respected in the art world and to show that the corporate world doesn't have to be exploitative, that the different elements can instead work together for mutual benefit."

At last night's launch, attended by more than 300 guests, Wakefield-born Turner Prize winner Martin Creed was named on the panel alongside Tate Collection curator Ann Gallagher, The Independent newspaper's art critic Tom Lubbock, and Greville Worthington, curator, collector and ex-Turner Prize judge.

Leeds City Art Gallery's senior curator Nigel Walsh will chair the panel and have the casting vote.

Mr Creed said: "Art – like everything else – is all about competing, about being the best, about not losing. I hope the Northern Art Prize will help."

Nominations will come from twelve art professionals – four each from the North East, North West and Yorkshire.

Yorkshire will be represented by Timandra Gustafson, executive director of Axis in Leeds, Clare Lilley, curator at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Anne Goodchild, curator of visual arts at the Graves Art Gallery in Sheffield and Pippa Oldfield, programme manager at Impressions Gallery which reopens in Bradford next year.

A shortlist of four artists will be announced next summer.

Their work will go on show at Leeds Art Gallery in November, followed by a prize-giving in January 2008 to announce the winner, who will receive a 16,500 first prize. Three runners up will get 1,500.

The prize is open to contemporary artists of any age, working in any media and living in the North of England.

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