The Friends currently administer two Artist Awards, The Wakelin Award and The Sir Leslie Joseph Young Artist Award.

The Wakelin Award

Formerly known as The Richard and Rosemary Wakelin Purchase Award, this award aims to assist Welsh artists of merit whose work is not yet well represented in public collections and to add works by such artists to the permanent collection of the Glynn Vivian Art Gallery. The Award is administered by the Friends of the Glynn Vivian and results in a work of fine art or craft being purchased for the collection annually. The winning work is also put on display at the Gallery.

Both Richard and Rosemary Wakelin were artists, based in Swansea from the late 1950s and worked in an abstract Modernist style but possessed an appreciation of all forms of the visual arts. They worked through several organisations to further the visual arts, notably the Swansea Art Society, the Association for Artists and Designers in Wales (with whom they founded the Swansea Arts Workshop, now the Mission Gallery), the 74 Guild of Artist Craftsmen, the Welsh Group and the Friends of the Glynn Vivian. They were keen to help and encourage talented artists and crafts-people, especially those struggling for recognition, and to broaden appreciation of the arts in Swansea.

Richard died in 1987, Rosemary in 1998 and the Award was established in their memory in 1999 with funding from their four children, Peter, the late Martin, Andrew and Sally, together more recently with Christine, Martin’s widow.

The Award is administered by the Friends in conjunction with the Curator and staff of the Gallery. An expert selector is appointed each year by the Friends for his or her knowledge of the arts in Wales to draw up a shortlist and select the winner. Previous selectors have included Glenys Cour, Andrew Green, Ann Jones, Martin Tinney, Michael Tooby, Nicholas Thornton and Amanda Farr.

Previous winners of the Award are Robert Harding, David Tress, Pete Davies, Craig Wood, David Garner, Tim Davies, Dick Chappell, Brendan Stuart Burns, Anthony Shapland, Catrin Webster, Jonathan Anderson, Meri Wells, David Cushway, Helen Sear, Clare Woods and Alex Duncan.

Sir Leslie Joseph Young Artist Award

The biennial award is funded by the Friends of the Glynn Vivian Art Gallery, from a generous bequest by the late Sir Leslie Joseph. It is open to young practising artists, graduate and post graduate art students who have received part of their education in Wales. It offers the winning artist an opportunity to stage their first solo exhibition in the Glynn Vivian Art Gallery. Its aim is to provide the winner with a helping hand at the start of their career. Entries are regularly received which embrace the whole spectrum of the Visual Arts such as painting, sculpture, printmaking, photography, video and installation.

The Award was inaugurated in 1996 and was won by painter Daniel Molloy, a graduate of Carmarthen College of Art who has since become a successful filmmaker. In 1998 the winner was James Donovan, who after graduating from Swansea Institute has been prolific and many exhibitions of his paintings have been held across the UK.

In 2001 the recipient was Will Nash, a sculptor and a graduate of Middlesex University whose work displayed the reality and mythology of flight. In 2003 the Award was made to Tomas Lewis whose exhibition consisted of a video installation contrasting speech, text and image. Richard Monahan was the winner of the Award in 2005, a painter who studied at Swansea Institute. His exhibition Drawn consisted of powerful and provoking self portraits, executed with great assurance. The 2007 recipient of the award was Soozy Roberts who studied at Dartington College of Arts. Roberts’ video installation whilst in turn funny, mesmerising and poignant raised important questions about identity and commodification of the body. In 2009 the Award winner was Heather Phillipson, whose still and moving image works are often grounded in specific locations into which she makes interventions, often exploring the sounds and languages of these places.