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John Moores Painting Prize shortlist announced

John Moores Painting Prize shortlist announced 

  • Five extraordinary paintings are in with a chance of winning the coveted £25,000 first prize 
  • Paintings by Robbie Bushe, Michele Fletcher, Steph Goodger, Stephen Lee and Kathryn Maple are shortlisted from almost 3,000 entries 
  • The breadth and richness of contemporary British painting is examined in the John Moores Painting Prize, opening virtually at the Walker Art Gallery on 12 February and running until to 27 June   

The Walker Art Gallery has announced the five paintings shortlisted for the John Moores Painting Prize 2020.  

The shortlisted works are among the 67 paintings to be exhibited in the John Moores Painting Prize 2020, at the Walker from 12 February to 27 June 2021. A virtual tour of the exhibition will launch at www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/jmpp on 12 February until the gallery can reopen. 

The five shortlisted paintings areThe Neanderthal Futures Infirmary by Robbie Bushe, Compost by Michele Fletcher, The Motherland by Steph Goodger, March by Stephen Lee and The Common by Kathryn Maple. 

Shortlisted artists will each receive £2,500. The first prize winner, to be announced on 4 March, will receive not only the £25,000 first prize, but also the honour of joining an esteemed list of British painters who have won the Prize over the past 63 years. The winning painting will be acquired by the Walker Art Gallery and join its world-class collection, while the artist will also have a future solo display at the gallery.  

Shortlisted artists and their work: 

Robbie Bushe The Neanderthal Futures Infirmary, 2019, oil and mixed media on canvas, 158 x 239 cm. 

Robbie’s practice straddles the use of daydreams, observation and pictorial reconstruction. The Neanderthal Futures Infirmary, one of series of four paintings, imagines an old Victorian hospital with a Neanderthal DNA extraction and cloning facility within a complex network of underground bunkers. 

Robbie Bushe was born in Liverpool, raised in Aberdeenshire, and attended Edinburgh College of Art 1985-90. Recent exhibitions include NEONEANDERTHALS, Royal Scottish Academy Edinburgh, 2019 and Westmorland Landscape Prize, Rheged Centre, 2019. 

Michele Fletcher Compost, 2020, oil on linen, 46 x 41 cm 

Michele’s work reflects on the cyclical change of the natural world, considering how a garden, like a painting, involves intervention, manipulation and composition. Compost, made around the time of the vernal (spring) equinox, and typical of the artist’s work, lies at the nexus of the abstract and the familiar.   

Michele was born in Canada and attended Chelsea College of Arts London 2008 and Goldsmiths University of London 2000-03. Recent exhibitions include Art at Glyndebourne: Forces of Nature, Glyndebourne Festival Sussex 2020, Waving in the Distance, Terrace Gallery, London, 2020 and Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, London, 2019. 

Steph Goodger The Motherland, 2019, oil on canvas,150 x 240 cm 

The starting point for The Motherland was a landscape of red brick pillboxes, dating from the Second World War, stretching along the eroded banks of the River Medway. Steph describes her fascination with one particular scene, where a tree’s exposed roots are encroaching on the foundations of a pillbox: ‘past and present appeared, through a continuum of imperceptible changes, instantaneously crushed into a single moment of painful impact.’ 

Steph was born in Tonbridge, Kent. She attended the University of Brighton, 1997-99 and UCA, 1992-95. Steph has had two public exhibitions recently in Bordeaux, France: Le Pôle Culturel, Lormont (2020) and Le Forum des arts et de la Culture, Talence (2020). She took part in, Every Day, at Terrace Gallery, London (2020) and the Creekside Open (2019). Steph exhibited in John Moores Painting Prize 2016 and 2004. 

Stephen Lee March, 2020, paint and ash on canvas, 132 x 197.5 cm 

Stephen creates contrasting burnished, stained and glazed painted imagery. The central labouring figure in March, joined by his dog, is surrounded by tools which are burnished and tactile. Behind him numerous glazed layers of paint form a meandering picturesque view. The figure stands in dialogue with this background, implicitly asking questions about his connection to nature and culture.   

Stephen Lee attended the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, 1984-86 and Leeds Polytechnic 1980-1983. Recent exhibitions include The Horizontal Within, The Horizontal Without, Angus-Hughes Gallery, London, 2017. He was born in Cheltenham.   

Kathryn Maple The Common, 2020, acrylic on canvas, 222 x 246 cm 

The Common evokes the quiet moments of urban mundanity, where observed and imagined worlds cross paths. Kathryn describes it as a ‘…meeting place, an intersection, people seemingly aware of each other, but minds elsewhere – all sharing an open space…’. Kathryn’s work frequently returns to ideas around these ‘resting places within a city’, where nature is seen and celebrated. 

Kathryn was born in Canterbury, Kent and attended the Royal Drawing School London 2013-14 and University of Brighton 2008-11. Recent exhibitions include The Just, Aleph Contemporary, London, 2020 and the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, London, 2019. Kathryn exhibited in John Moores Painting Prize 2018. 

For the first time this year there will also be a £2,500 Emerging Artist Prize, supported by Winsor & Newton, also to be announced on 4 March. 

Visitors to the exhibition will also be invited to vote for their favourite painting in the popular Visitors’ Choice Award. Now in its 11th year, the Prize, sponsored by Rathbones, awards the winning artist £2,020. 

Due to Covid restrictions the 2020 jury, Hurvin Anderson, Michelle Williams Gamaker, Alison Goldfrapp, Jennifer Higgie and Gu Wenda, judged and selected all of the works online for the first time in the history of the Prize. High spec cameras, screens, speakers and AV software allowed judges to appreciate the scale, texture and detail of the works in real time. It also enabled a rich dialogue between the judges, a vital and cherished part of the process. Despite the changes an important fundamental of the competition remained in place; all judging was done anonymously, allowing the artworks to speak for themselves.   

The exhibition was selected from almost 3,000 entries. From large scale canvases, bold in brush strokes and colour, to exquisitely detailed pieces, the exhibition covers a wide range of styles, united by their use of paint.  

See all John Moores Painting Prize 2020 artists here. 

Past prize winners include David Hockney (1967), Mary Martin (1969), Lisa Milroy (1989), Peter Doig (1993), Keith Coventry (2010) and Rose Wylie (2014). Sir Peter Blake, winner of the junior prize in 1961, is patron of the Prize. The winner of the prestigious first prize in 2018 was Jacqui Hallum with her painting King and Queen of Wands. 

Five prizewinning paintings from the John Moores Painting Prize China will also be displayed during the run of the exhibition. Organised by the College of Fine Arts at Shanghai University, the China Prize was launched in 2010 to support the development of painting in China.  

The John Moores Painting Prize is organised in partnership with the John Moores Painting Prize Trust. The exhibition is showing as part of Liverpool Biennial 2021, the largest festival of contemporary art in the UK, 20 March to 6 June 2021. 


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