WINNER: Chris Ramsey
STAND-up comedian, Chris Ramsey has had rather a good year. Safe to say the Sunderland and South Shields-bred comic, who is in the midst of his 25th year, cranked things up a notch, breaking onto the small screen, booking his first solo show at the Edinburgh Fringe and supporting Al Murray, The Pub Landlord on a national tour.
Not bad when you consider he’s only been doing the comedy thing for three years.
Now living in Manchester, Chris is perfectly poised for bigger things in 2011. No wonder he smiles a lot.
Chris said: “I’m genuinely really, really chuffed. I’ve never been nominated for a proper award before. I have been nominated for a competition before, so I was nominated but I then had to compete in the final.
“But with this Journal nomination I just say ‘thanks’ and sit back and wait for the powers that be to make the obvious right decision. Then collect my award… it’s for the most modest person, yeah?
“In 2010 I appeared on TV doing stand-up for the first time (been on TV before, running after the camera bike during the Great North Run, 1997) and I did my first solo stand up show at the Edinburgh Festival, it sold out and got great reviews. I’m quite proud of myself.”
Finalist: Lesley Roley
SINGER songwriter Lesley Roley isn’t a newcomer to what she does… but 2010 saw a lot more people hearing what she does, and liking it quite a lot.
Supporting John Smith and Madeleine Peyroux paved the way for a tour-long opening up slot for the legendary Don McLean – something she did on her home turf at The Sage Gateshead.
She also launched her second EP, Way We Are at a gig at Newcastle’s Cluny 2 – and promptly sold out. She is currently working on her third EP, which is scheduled to be a live recording. Lesley said: "Very surprised to be shortlisted! 2010 was like a whirlwind for me; I’d spent the last 10 years gigging mainly in and around Newcastle and Sunderland, not really getting anywhere, to be all of a sudden thrown in at the deep end opening up for John Smith and Madeleine Peyroux and playing to a couple of thousand people, which was terrifying! After that I was invited to tour with Don Mclean, which was the most amazing experience. I couldn’t have asked for a better year! The response and support from people has just been incredible."
CIRCA is the brainchild of curators Sam Watson and Adam Phillips who are based in new Gateshead studio complex The Shed.
The pair met at Sunderland University where Adam was studying for an MA in fine art, having previously done a BA at Leeds, and Sam was doing his BA.
They discovered a shared interest in presenting the work of contemporary artists – usually those specialising in the moving image – in unconventional venues.
A series of free screenings under the heading Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere epitomises this shared interest and involved the showing of works by three artists (one of which starred Keira Knightley) in the atmospheric setting of Stephenson Works in Newcastle, exploring elements of history in imaginative ways, blending fact and fiction.
Sam Watson said: "It is immensely encouraging to be shortlisted, we are proud to be a part of the vibrant culture that exists within the North East and flattered to be recognized within a category that demonstrates some of the diverse talents emerging from the region.
"2010 was an important and exciting year for us. We were pleased to be able to present projects to audiences in Sunderland, Gateshead and Newcastle, connecting with important parts of the cultural calendar like the AV and Winter Festivals, as well as offering the artists we worked with, like Mark Neville, Stuart Pearson Wright and Dan Holdsworth, opportunities to present their work in new ways."