Warrington Contemporary Arts Festival entries labelled best ever at launch night

Marie Jones, winner

Arts festival competition entries labelled best ever at launch night

The entries for this year’s Warrington Contemporary Arts Festival Open have been labelled the best ever at a celebration of this year’s competition.

Nearly 300 artists and photographers submitted work to the competition and collectively generated the highest standard of work seen in the history of the event.

Now in its eighth year, WCAF18 has for the first time been able to offer a whopping £2,000 in prize money which it is hoped will help catapult the winning artist’s career into the professional sphere.

Martina Murphy, cultural manager for Culture Warrington, the charity which runs WCAF and Warrington Museum & Art Gallery, said she was blown away by the standard of work submitted.

“I can honestly say I was wowed by the quality of entries we received this year,” she said.

“The standard just keeps getting better and better and this year, perhaps thanks to the significant increase in winnings, I believe we have attracted the best artists and photographers in the area; the entries have undoubtedly surpassed previous standards.

“I hope the £2,000 will now provide the winner – the very deserving Marie Jones – with a real opportunity to make that next step on her career path.”

Marie Jones, who lives in Chapelford, was announced the winner at the WCAF18 launch event, which took place at Warrington Museum & Art Gallery tonight, Friday 28 September.

Marie said she was “over the moon” to have won.

“I’m very excited and I feel so very grateful to be chosen from what is a really strong show.

“I’ve recently moved into the area and wanted to engage in the Warrington arts scene. It’s the first open exhibition I have taken part in and I’m really excited that it is in what is now my local gallery!”

Marie was also delighted to have won her first solo exhibition, saying “this will be really integral to my artistic practice and I feel very lucky to have been selected”.

Each of Marie’s three entries utilise hobbyist craft techniques and typography: To Do is a machine and hand-knitted ‘to do’ list, T-Line Cooper Black Dressdemonstrates the parallels between the letter ‘T’ and garment making; and Find Your Thing; Why, Focus, Purpose, Voice was inspired by the current trend in coaching creatives to “find your thing”.

Gary Jones, BTEC fine art and design co-ordinator at Priestley College and one of the Open competition judges, said Marie’s work was “whimsical”, “playful” and “utilised processes that raise the status of craft, making fresh and contemporary-feeling work”.

“It has a sense of humour,” he said, “a theme which runs through a number of the exhibits, and I hope it proves to be a popular choice.

“The work that was shortlisted is beautifully diverse and an eclectic mix representing the talent of professional and amateur artists in the region.

“The range that we selected makes for a refreshing and accessible show with something for everyone.”

Also singled out for special mention was Alice Cornelia, whose entries entitled Back Now and Tip were ‘highly commended’ by the judges.

The Open competition exhibition, which is on display at Warrington Museum & Art Gallery until Sunday 11 November, sits alongside the striking Dreaming of Dead Fish by Hannah Leighton-Boyce, which was also unveiled on Friday evening.

Hannah has developed a series of newly-commissioned works in glass, soot, slide film and projection inspired by un-accessioned items in Warrington Museum and Art Gallery’s collection.

Other highlights of this year’s festival, which is supported by Warrington Borough Council and Arts Council England, include Ventoux, a restaging of the epic battle between cyclist Lance Armstrong and Marco Pantani, and Mik Artistik’s Ego Trip, a part-music, part-comedy experience like no other.