John Moores Art prize finds way round volcanic ash

Judges: From L-R - Ged Quinn (Liverpool-born), Alison Watt and Gary Hume
Judges: From L-R - Ged Quinn (Liverpool-born), Alison Watt and Gary Hume

Art prize finds way round volcanic ash

John Moores Painting Prize 2010


Judging of Britain’s biggest painting prize took place on both sides of the Atlantic after volcanic ash grounded two of the judges.

For the first time in the history of the competition judges sat thousands of miles apart as they sifted through entries.

Both Sir Norman Rosenthal and Goshka Macuga found themselves stranded in America when their flights were cancelled. However it takes more than freak acts of nature to stop the Walker Art Gallery’s John Moores Painting Prize, now in its 52nd year. Their selection, from almost 3,000 entrants, was made online. They maintained communications with the other jurors, who were also viewing the works digitally, and organisers to ensure their opinions were heard.

Angela Samata, John Moores Project Manager said: “The period for judging the John Moores is extremely tight. With only six weeks between both stages it was crucial that we found a way to work around not having all five judges together.

“We made sure that both Sir Norman and Goshka were able to view all of the entrants in a specially built online gallery. It was also very important we kept in contact with them during judging, keeping them up to date on the progress of the selection in London and the debates some of the paintings provoked.

“We are very excited about the selection of paintings the judges have decided to put through to stage two, when they will see the actual artworks and choose their winner.”

Coincidentally it was the three painters from the panel who were in London for the judging: Gary Hume, Alison Watt and Ged Quinn.

Gary Hume said “It has been quite a surprise how coherent the sense of opinion has been. As artists we all make quite different work but in fact you just all know what is good.”

For behind the scenes footage of the John Moores stage one judging go to: