Described by Young British Artist Gavin Turk as, ‘the best open art competition in the UK’, for nearly two decades the National Open Art Competition has been showcasing the very best artistic talent from across these Isles. Judged anonymously by leading figures from the arts world, including this year Royal Academician Hughie O’ Donoghue, the final 140 artworks – consisting of moving image pieces, photographs, wall hung sculptures, paintings and etchings – are being exhibited in a free exhibition at the Royal College of Art (21 Oct – 1 Nov) after beating more than 4,000 entries.
Last night (21 October), the winners of the competition were announced, with 35 amateur and professional artists receiving prizes totalling more than £60,000. This includes three fine art prizes, won by British-born Tamil artist Reginald S Aloysius, who won £5,000, and a sculpture of a rhinoceros by NOA’s patron Ronnie Wood for his graphite and gold leaf piece KUL-MH004. Up-and-coming Bristol street artist Jack Tierney won £3,000 for The Last Known Portrait of Ferdinand Marcos and Kent painter Adrienne Blake won £2,000 for Egg Box.
Exciting new artists were celebrated through a number of prizes. Holly Zandbergen’s Emergence came first in the Young Artist’s Award. Alexandra Merriam’s Sharlotta and Hannah Murray’s Mark and Helen came second and third. Michael James Wright was named Best Emerging Artist for his oil painting Love Fool, while Isla Jones was awarded Young Photographer’s Award for We Three.
‘Judging thousands of art works is a challenge, but the experience is essentially a privileged glimpse of the creative energy at work in Britain and Ireland today’ commented Hughie O’ Donoghue, one of the most respected abstract artists working in the UK today. ‘I’m impressed with the strength and diversity of the submissions. What comes through for me is a sense of invention and a seriousness of intent, sometimes along with irreverence and humour. It’s a healthy picture of the art in these Islands.’
Prizes for the best artworks in each medium were also awarded including the Best Photography award, given to Harry Borden, one of the UK’s most acclaimed portrait photographers, for his C-type print, Kenny – 20 Years of Farming. Aleksandra Karpowicz’s photographic collage of naked people of all shapes and sizes Let’s Talk About Sex won the Best Portrait Award.
This year’s competition included a moving image category for the first time in its history, won by Susan Walsh for Flair. ‘Year by year collectors tell us that the quality and excellence of this important exhibition gets better and better and this year is no exception,’ said Neil Lawson-Baker, Chairman of NOA. ‘This show should not be missed by anyone who is serious about seeing the emerging talent and creativity being produced by artists and photographers from across the entire UK and Ireland.’
All entries to this year’s competition are for sale at the exhibition and through NOA’s website. Proceeds for each piece are divided between the artist, NOA, and The House of Fairy Tales, a charity that helps children and young people engage with art.
National Open Art’s Winter Exhibition takes place at the Royal College of Art in Kensington, London between 21 October and 1 November. Free to enter. The Winner’s Exhibition takes place at the Pallant House Gallery in Chichester between 1 and 13 December. For more information visit the website.
First featured artwork: Storm Tree by Carol Hodder