Nicholas (nwhyte) wrote,
Nicholas
nwhyte

My BSFA votes: Best Art

Easter is coming, and with it the deadline for BSFA Award voting, assisted by the lovely BSFA Award booklet So I'll be revealing my own votes over the next few days, category by category; not to be understood as recommendations, but as confessing my own quirks. (Except for one category, where I am Right and anyone who votes otherwise is Wrong.)

I'll start with the Best Art category. I nominated four works here, and three of them made it to the final ballot, which I think is a record for me in any BSFA award category in any year. The nomination I made what didn't make it was a concept project about a future city, sponsored by a Quebecois brewery, by Myriam Wares. It caught my eye, but obviously did not do the same for a critical mass of other voters.

Turning to the actual nominees, I'm afraid there is a clear 5th out of 5 in this category for me, and it's not so much because of the art as because of the way we are being asked to vote for it. Nani Sahra Walker produced three-dimensional images of four Black Lives Matter murals painted in the wake of George Floyd's death last year. If we were being asked to vote for the murals, and their creators, that would be one thing. But the nomination is not for the original art; it is for Walker's digitisation and presentation of them (which I guess is what makes this sf-relevant). The associated website does not even name the artists behind one of the four murals. Personally, I grew up in a place where political murals were bloody everywhere, so I don't see the art form in itself as especially exciting (frankly it does not have positive connotations for me), and I really don't understand why turning any mural, of any quality, into three-dimensional images should be considered a big nomination-worthy deal; from the technical point of view, it's a fairly old trick, I think. The murals are good works of art in themselves, and they tell a very important story, but that's not what we are being asked to vote for, so I won't.
The other four, however, are difficult to choose between. With reluctance, you have to start pruning somewhere, and my 4th preference goes to Sinjin Li’s cover of Eli Lee’s A Strange and Brilliant Light. Not that I disliked it at all - it's a great image, but all of the others have more going on.

My third preference goes to Ruby Gloom’s cover of Nikhil Singh’s Club Ded. I thoroughly bounced off the book, as will be discussed in a later post, but this is an interesting piece of art and it was one of my own nominations, as were the other two pieces below.

Chris Baker, better known as Fangorn, won last year, and has a very good work on the ballot this year, the covers of four novellas from NewCon Press with the common theme of Robot Dreams - According to Kovac by Andrew Bannister (who I shared a house with in Cambridge thirty years ago), Deep Learning by Ren Warom, Paper Hearts by Justina Robson, and The Beasts of Lake Oph by Tom Toner. I generally bounce off stories about anthropomorphic robots, but this sequence intrigued me.

My top vote goes to Iain Clark's Shipbuilding Over the Clyde, produced for the Glasgow in 2024 WorldCon bid, which (important disclosure) I am involved with. In a year when we have all been spending a lot of time indoors, when the present and immediate future have often seemed rather fraught, this image manages both to evoke a fascinating future moored in the past. I did not grow up in Glasgow, but two of the biggest shipbuilding cranes in the world are very visible in my own home city. (Though I just discovered that both were built after I was born!) Anyway, this is a really inspiring and hopeful work of art and it gets my vote.
Tags: bsfa 2020
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