Artists and photographers invited to enter Warrington’s annual contemporary arts competition

Bex Ilsley’s ‘Your Cities Will Shine Forever’

Artists and photographers are being invited to enter this year’s Warrington Contemporary Arts Festival Open exhibition competitions.

Members of the public living or working within a 50-mile radius of the town can now submit up to three works online before the deadline of Sunday 27 August, with the chance to win a cash prize and a solo exhibition in 2018.

Now in its seventh year, the month-long festival provides an opportunity for people to experience contemporary art, and the 2017 programme promises to be packed full of engaging events including the flagship Art and Photography Open competitions.

Both Open exhibitions will run throughout the festival from Friday 29 September to Saturday 28 October at Warrington Museum & Art Gallery and The Gallery at Bank Quay House; the first prize in both categories is £250 plus a solo exhibition in 2018, while second prize is £100.

Derek Dick, cultural manager for Culture Warrington, the charity which organises WCAF, encouraged amateur and aspiring artists to enter alongside more experienced professionals.

He said: “One of our aims at Culture Warrington is to provide opportunities and support for emerging artists in the region and entering WCAF’s Open competitions can be a great springboard to future success.

“By entering the Art or Photography Open artists can see their work displayed in professional exhibition galleries alongside their peers and it’s an opportunity for us to showcase the wealth of artistic talent in and around Warrington.

“It’s very exciting and encouraging to see the work submitted each year as the entries are always of a high standard.

“This year’s Opens are part of a larger programme of activities and events which will take place over the next twelve months; with support from Arts Council England we will be creating even more opportunities with a series of commissions and town centre events.”

The winner of last year’s Art Open was Bex Ilsley with Your Cities Will Shine Forever, a wall-mounted installation and virtual reality app viewed through a headset. The piece was a self-portrait which also explored the predicament of living between the physical and virtual.

Bex is now enjoying her first solo exhibition, entitled Emotional Processing, at Warrington Museum & Art Gallery, her followers include Miley Cyrus and The Flaming Lips, and her works are held in private collections around the world.

Speaking after her win, Bex said: “This type of opportunity is vital for artists at the beginning of their careers and I am beyond grateful because funding and awards are the only way I have to continue practicing at this stage.”

Steve Deer’s ‘The Birds’

Steve Deer, winner of last year’s Photography Open, currently has a collection on display in The Gallery at Bank Quay house.

The fine art photographer, who shoots powerful landscapes with a graphic narrative, was delighted to have won after coming second the previous year.

David Foster, winner of the 2012 Open, said: “Winning literally changed my life – from being a dabbling amateur artist experimenting in a new style of contemporary art to now being a full-time professional artist with sales worldwide, corporate clients and a waiting list for commissions.

“I would encourage any budding artist to enter; the prize of being able to hold your own exhibition is immense and could be life-changing for you too.”

2013 winner Carol Miller added: “Winning the Open planted a seed of belief which has sustained my practice and given me self-assurance in my work; I’ve carried that with me ever since.

“By entering you are demonstrating you have the belief that you’re good enough to stand and be judged beside your peers, and you never know what that can lead to.”

Visit www.warringtonartsfestival.co.uk for more information or to submit an entry before the deadline on Sunday 27 August. Entry forms are also available from Warrington Museum & Art Gallery.

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