“I Wanted It to Stand Out”: Jermaine Gallacher on His Circa x Dazed Award

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Jermaine Gallacher Dazed Circa award
Courtesy of Dazed

The designer will be sharing an intricate, personally crafted award for the Circa x Dazed Class of 2021 competition next week – here, he details the creative process behind it

Earlier this year, art and culture platform Circa announced Class of 2021 in collaboration with Dazed: an international awards initiative for emerging video artists. The initiative invited applicants from all over the world to submit their own two-and-a-half-minute short film to appear on the iconic Piccadilly Lights screen as well as K-Pop Square in Seoul and Yunika Vision in Tokyo last month. The theme of the brief was “communion” set by lecturer and interdisciplinary artist Angel Rose, with one lucky finalist set to win the #CIRCAECONOMY cash prize of £30,000 and a Jermaine Gallacher designed award.

As the year unfolded, applications poured in. Over 2,000 artists put themselves forward, with 700 submitted films and over 30 hours of video footage. In August, a shortlist of 30 finalists was announced, including exciting new talent from Zambia, Romania, London, Brazil and Korea. And next week, on October 14, the overall winner will be finally declared by performance artist Marina Abramović.

The award itself, specially designed by Gallacher and crafted by his long-time collaborator Ben Burgis, is much more than an ornamental signpost. A piercing, intricate piece of art in itself, the arrow references the iconic statue of Anteros (god of requited love) in Piccadilly Circus and is comprised of Gallacher’s signature zigzag design, with an arrowhead top and stained glass detailing. “Clearly I had to put a zigzag in it, it was a no brainer,” says the London-based artist and interior designer. “It’s quite strong-looking. I wanted something that stood out and felt like more than an award.”

Gallacher, who runs an eponymous studio and showroom (and was at one point AnOther’s de facto design correspondent), says the design came to him naturally, and was crafted over a morning and an afternoon. After drawing it up, he turned to fellow artist Burgis, who helped assemble and weld the award to life. “I knew exactly how it should look,” Gallacher says. “It took about a day, and then we went fishing for mackerel afterwards.”

The sudden thunderstrike of inspiration hits Gallacher often, and he admits that most of his designs “just come to him” without too much planning: “There’s no academic thought process, I just know how things should be. It’s the same approach whether I’m designing a room or an object. I was always like that at art school, too – I hated planning things out in sketchbooks. I just wanted to do it.”

He adds that it was partly inspired by Burgis, who has helped make the prototypes for many of his previous collections. “I drew them, and they’re all to my design, but everything has got his touch on as well as mine,” the designer says. “He’s a dear friend, we’ve been working with each other for a long time ... I think it makes for good work, doing things with friends. You’re inspired by them, so it makes sense that you’d want to work with them.”

The winner of the Dazed x Circa Class of 2021 award will be announced on October 14, as part of the Frieze Art Fair in London.