Manchester Metropolitan University

Monday, 6th August 2012

Artist Rafal named as a ‘New Sensation’

MMU graduate shortlisted by Saatchi Gallery

Image for Artist Rafal named as a ‘New Sensation’

GRADUATE Rafal Topolewski has been chosen as one of the four finalists for the Saatchi Gallery’s New Sensations award.

The 29 year-old from Grudzadz, in Poland was selected from more than 800 entries – the largest number in the competition’s history.

Rafal, who now lives in Sharston, has just graduated from Manchester Metropolitan University with a First in Fine Art.

He said: “I would have been really excited and satisfied to be top 20 – I didn’t expect to be in the top four. For a few days I didn’t believe it until my name and picture appeared on the website.”

Minimum wage

He will now create new work, which along with work by the other finalists and 16 long-listed artists, will be displayed at the B1 gallery, at Victoria House in London, in October.

For his degree show, Rafal created a series of miniature paintings which he sold for £6.08 each – the equivalent of one hour’s work at the national minimum wage rate.

Rafal said the realities of making a living as an artist were something which worried every graduate, but he is hoping this nomination might help him "get his face known".

He said: “After university I was questioning whether I would still be able to carry on my practise as an artist. Hopefully this will help but I have no expectations – it is difficult to say what the future brings and we will just have to wait and see.”


The Saatchi Gallery, opened by advertising mogul Charles Saatchi in 1985, has provided a springboard for many of the best-known British contemporary artists, including Damien Hirst, Rachel Whiteread and the Chapman brothers.

The New Sensations prize is open to all students graduating from a BA or MA course at an art school or a fine art or photography course of a British or Irish university in 2012.

Judges include the artists John Stezaker and Richard Wilson, Jerwood director Shonagh Manson, Nancy Durrant, arts commissioning editor of The Times, Jake Miller, founder of The Approach gallery in London, Tabitha Jackson, arts commissioning editor of Channel 4 and Rebecca Wilson, director of the Saatchi Gallery.

Manchester Metropolitan University is one of the most extensive higher education centres in Europe with 37,000 students and more than 1,000 undergraduate, postgraduate and professional courses. The University educates and trains large numbers of legal and business professionals, scientists, engineers, teachers, health workers and creative professionals.

The University is in the top three nationally for environmental sustainability and has an 85% research impact rated world-leading and internationally excellent.

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