It was at the funeral of a dear friend that artists Ann Burnham and Jane Pomiankowski received some unexpected news.
The duo, who had entered the last ever V&A Inspired By competition back in February last year, discovered they had both been selected out of hundreds of entrants to exhibit their works in the prestigious London museum.
“I suppose it’s quite fitting that we found out on the day of Kay Craig’s funeral,” says Ann.
“She’s been a huge support to both of us and our work over the years. She was an artist, and Jane and I met through her – Jane didn’t have any space where she could do her work.”
Jane adds: “I first met Kay when I was seven years old. Ever since that point, our paths crossed continuously. After she introduced me to Ann, we got on like a house on fire, in fact, I don’t think Ann and I have stopped talking since. So it was rather bittersweet we found out we’d both been selected then, seeing as she brought us together.“
Despite their friendship, the mediums Ann and Jane work in couldn’t be more different.
Ann, 56, is a printmaker and uses several different processes to create her artworks – etching, mono print, dry point, relief, lino cut and collagraph.
Not only has she been selected to exhibit, but she also won in her category, Word and Image.
“To tell you the truth I was amazed when I found out I’d won, I had no idea,“ Ann says. “All the entrants were invited to a prize-giving ceremony in October and my name was suddenly called out.
“This is the second time I’ve entered this competition, the first time I didn’t even get selected. The whole idea of the competition is not to copy something from the museum, but to be inspired by something there, to come up with a different concept. That’s where I think I fell down initially.
But this time around has made up for it, not only have I been chosen to exhibit, but also winning my category – it’s wonderful.“
Meanwhile, Jane, 63, who works by day as a checkout assistant at Tesco, creates art through jewellery.
“People see jewellery just as something you can wear and not an art form,” she says. “I’m trying to get away from mass-produced jewellery, to change the way people see this art form, to create one-off pieces.
“I’ve been making jewellery off and on since I was 17. I used to travel a lot, I’ve hitched to Morocco and Turkey, and I made bits of necklaces on the way to pay my way. I suppose I was a bit of a hippy.
“The places I’ve seen have influenced my work, particularly my choice of stones. I tend to use a lot of semi-precious stones, I’m really interested in texture and colour.“
In spite of their differing choice of mediums, both draw from nature and their surroundings for inspiration.
For their competition pieces, Ann created a collagraph, inspired by a log table exhibited in the V&A, and Jane created a silver cuff, influenced by a silver and bronze figure of a mother and infant displayed in the museum.
“We were both over the moon to find out we’d been selected to exhibit,“ says Jane. “Although it’s sad to think this is the last V&A Inspired By competition, it’s particularly heart-warming to think we’re exhibiting in the final show.“
l Inspired By is on display at the Sackler Foyer, Room 220, the Victoria and Albert Museum, Cromwell Road, SW7, until April 21. Details: www.vam.ac.uk