Drawing Year alumni selected for the Trinity Buoy Wharf Drawing Prize 2020

Nov. 2, 2020

Nancy Haslam Chance and Holly Mills tell us about their practices, how their work has been affected by lockdown and what is coming up for them in the not so distant future...

Drawing Year alumni Nancy Haslam Chance and Holly Mills have been selected for the Trinity Buoy Wharf Drawing Prize 2020. The prize (previously the Jerwood Drawing Prize) was founded in 1994 by Professor Anita Taylor, Dean of Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design at the University of Dundee. This year's exhibition includes 71 drawings by 56 practitioners - including works by students to those by established artists and makers – selected from 4,274 submissions received from across the UK and internationally. 

Nancy Haslam-Chance, Drawing Year 2017

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I’m living in South London and my studio is at Art Hub in Woolwich by the river. I work part-time as a support worker for a charity that supports people affected by brain injury. Recent drawings (including the ones in the TBWDP) have focused on my job and the relationships I have formed with clients. This series explores the different caring aspects of my job, from making someone a cup of tea, brushing someone’s teeth, putting someone’s shoes on to holding someone’s hand. I am interested in the practicalities of these relationships, my clients require support and it is my job to support them. Yet within these practicalities there are moments of intimacy, tenderness and companionship. These are the moments I try to capture in my drawings which I do from memory on my way between shifts or when I get home from work in the evenings. 


Being a support worker is very rewarding but it can also be hard and lonely. I explore this loneliness in my work and try to tackle the mundaneness of everyday life by blurring the line between what is real and what is imagined and fantasy. As well as drawing I have been painting in my studio. Painting helps me to slow down and explore how life can be both beautiful and painful at the same time, try to make sense of things which sometimes make no sense, and try to control things which often feel uncontrollable. 


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I was lucky to be able to spend the majority of lockdown at home in Yorkshire with my parents. The #artistsupportpledge was a godsend and I sold lots of prints that I found in old folders under my bed. This meant I got to buy some beautiful art by some artists I admire such as Mary Herbert and Charlotte Murdoch. Looking at these pieces on my wall got me through some very repetitive days. 



I got really into sewing and made clothes for myself and sewed silk paintings onto t-shirts for friends. I’ve wanted to start making my own clothes for a while so it was good to finally have the time and space to do it. I was meant to be starting an MA in Art Therapy in Edinburgh in September but the date has been pushed back to January 2021 because of coronavirus. I’ve enjoyed these extra months in London, tying up all my loose ends and feeling quite sentimental about leaving after living here for 5 years. I’m looking forward to making more clothes, I’ve got a few sewing projects on the go. I’ve bought a new lovely sketchbook and I’m going to make sure I draw every day. I’m really looking forward to moving to Scotland and starting a new life up there. The experience of working with people with brain injuries has shown me the therapeutic power of art to help people communicate in a world over-reliant on verbal communication. I can’t wait to start my course to learn more about the power of images and how they can help people to live and survive in this world.           

Instagram: @nancyhaslamchance

Holly Mills, Drawing Year 2018

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I’m currently living in Brockley and share a beautiful studio with Naomi Workman (Drawing Year 2018) in Greenwich. My usual freelance work as a prop maker/art department assistant stopped completely so I spent lockdown at home. I found the pressure to use the time ‘productively’ too overwhelming at first and it was a long while before I felt able to use the time to make work. I spent much of my time obsessively crocheting a rug (still in progress). It helped to have a repetitive, almost meditative project to absorb myself in. I also watched a lot of TV!


I was very lucky to be able to pay rent by selling my work through the Artist Support Pledge - and in turn buy some amazing works from artists that I love. Recent, fast-paced, oil transfer drawings reflect on sensations and remembered moments. The act of making is repetitive and frenzied, imagery playing catch up with my stream of conciousness. Text has also become important, transcribing thoughts as they occur and before they are forgotten. Using drawing to then fill in the gaps of language and treating the image and text as equals.



The drawing I entered for the TBWDP was made in a particularly low lockdown moment. Using transcriptions as a kind of note to self, jotting down remembered moments and trying to reconnect to the physical sensation-ness of being in nature, an antidote to feeling such big physical disconnect.

I’m hoping to go up to Glasgow at some point in the near future to collaborate on some bowls with my friend Florence Dwyer. I’m also looking forward to working on some exciting print projects with Mary Herbert in relation to our exhibition that was postponed in March.

Instagram: @hollyveramills

Visit the Trinity Buoy Wharf Drawing Prize:

- Drawing Projects UK in Trowbridge, Wiltshire: 2 to 31 October 2020 
- Cooper Gallery at the University of Dundee: 13 November to 19 December 2020 
- Trinity Buoy Wharf in London: from 9 January to 22 January 2021 
- The Gallery at Arts University Bournemouth: from February 2021 (dates TBC)

For more information visit the Trinity Buoy Wharf Drawing Prize website