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  • Tuesday 10am - 4pm
  • Wednesday 10am - 4pm
  • Thursday 10am - 4pm
  • Friday 10am - 4pm
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  • Monday 10am - 4pm
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Northumberland Open Exhibition winning artist revealed

13/02/2023

A former runner-up of Museums Northumberland’s annual Open Exhibition competition has been named the winner of this year’s event.

Artist Gillian Lee Smith, originally from Scotland but now living in Northumberland, was named overall winner by an expert panel of judges for her painting, Roots Break Rock (Quarry Trees at Belsay), which depicts the roots of a tree breaking through the rock of a quarry wall.

Gillian’s work was selected from more than 230 artworks submitted for this year’s Open Exhibition, which opens at Woodhorn Museum on Saturday 18 February.

Each year, artists from across Northumberland and beyond are invited to submit artworks based on a chosen theme. The theme for this year’s Open Exhibition is ‘Wild Northumberland’.

Overall winner, Gillian Lee Smith, said: “I am surprised and delighted to be awarded overall winner for this year’s Open Exhibition at Woodhorn Museum.

“This is my fourth time exhibiting in the show, and it just gets better year after year. The range of work is always inspiring, and I am so glad to see a Northumberland-based exhibition on this scale gaining deserved attention and submissions.

“I discovered the beautiful Belsay house, castle and quarry in 2021 and have been back many times. I sketch each time I am there and have become fascinated by the trees atop the quarry walls and the roots that have broken through the rock below.

“This award means a great deal to me. Thank you to Woodhorn, Museums Northumberland, and the curators and judges for the opportunity and the award for Roots Break Rock (Quarry Trees at Belsay).”

Gillian’s work often explores maritime themes but she is also interested in landscape and the industrial heritage of Northumberland. The title of her winning painting, ‘Roots Break Rock (Quarry Trees at Belsay)’, is a play on the hand game rock, paper, scissors.

Two artists were also awarded highly commended by the judges; Judy Seymour for her work, Dance me Wild, and Claire Shand for her work, Silent Night Hunter. Judy’s work is inspired by the works of Matisse and the ancient Roman pagan festival, Saturnalia, and draws on Northumberland’s nature and wildlife. Claire’s watercolour is inspired by the barn owls that live on her farm near Morpeth, and captures the intensity and piercing stare of these ghostly assassins.

Rowan Brown, chief executive of Museums Northumberland, said: “Every year we are overwhelmed by the quality of submissions we receive for what is the largest open exhibition in Northumberland.

“The event is open to artists of all abilities, amateur and professional, so it’s fascinating to see how each individual artist explores the theme and captures their piece of Northumberland.

“It’s also a unique opportunity for many artists to present and sell their work in a professional museum setting.

“I’d like to personally congratulate all 113 artists whose work will be on display at Woodhorn Museum as part of this year’s Open Exhibition, and I’d like to thank all the brilliant artists that submitted their work for consideration. You made our job of judging very difficult.”

In addition to the judges’ selections, members of the public can also vote for their favourite artwork throughout the exhibition’s run at Woodhorn Museum. A special People’s Choice award will be presented to the artist that receives the most public votes when Open Exhibition 2023: Wild Northumberland closes on Monday 08 May.

Open Exhibition 2023: Wild Northumberland opens at Woodhorn Museum on Saturday 18 February and runs until Monday 08 May 2023. The exhibition is funded by Northumberland County Council and Arts Council England. For more information, visit museumsnorthumberland.org.uk.

Entry to Woodhorn Museum is free for children aged 0-16, with an admission charge of £7 for adults and £6 for concessions. All passes are valid for unlimited visits for 12 months from the date of issue.

Woodhorn Museum is part of Northumberland’s museum service, Museums Northumberland, which cares for sites of historic interest and collections across the county.

Museums Northumberland comprises Woodhorn Museum in Ashington, Berwick Museum and Art Gallery, Hexham Old Gaol and Morpeth Chantry Bagpipe Museum.

For more information about Museums Northumberland, visit www.museumsnorthumberland.org.uk.

 

-ENDS-

For more information, images or interview requests, please contact David Brookbanks on david@ludlowstreet.co.uk or 07948 563 612.

Notes to editor

About Museums Northumberland

Museums Northumberland (the public name for Woodhorn Charitable Trust) is Northumberland’s museum service, which cares for sites of historic interest and collections across the county.

Museums Northumberland comprises Woodhorn Museum in Ashington, Berwick Museum and Art Gallery, Hexham Old Gaol and Morpeth Chantry Bagpipe Museum.

Museums Northumberland is supported by Northumberland County Council and is an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation. Museums Northumberland has also received funding through government’s Culture Recovery Fund.