This year, the shortlisted artworks and the winners were selected by a panel of leading figures from the art world: Louis Wise, art critic and Sunday Times writer, GillSaunders, Senior Curator at the V&A Museum, Tara McKinney Marinus, Visual Arts Exhibitions Manager at Hampshire Cultural Trust, as well as artists Ishbel Myerscough and Paul Newland NEAC RWS.
The 2020 Competition received over 1,600 entries from watercolourists around the world –their sheer number, variety and quality allowing the exhibition to showcase the most impressive use of water-based media today. “I couldn’t believe how many entries there were”, says Ishbel Myerscough, “So many beautiful works,it was extremely hard to whittle them down.”
The First Prize of£3,000 plus £1,000 of Cass Art gift vouchers goes to British painter Mark Entwisle (born 1961) for Paper Bag, “a stand-out winner” according to the judges. “It makes something spellbinding and beautiful from distinctly unpromising subject matter – a paper bag sitting on a wonky table in a bare nondescript room”, explains Gill Saunders, “Yet somehow the quality of the light, the limited palette, and the delicacy of the handling bring melancholy and poignancy to the scene. One can read so much into it.” “The paper bag was a favourite with all the judges”, confirms Ishbel Myerscough, “It had a lonely solitude, something I think we all felt a softness for.”
22 year-old Katherine Jackson (born 1998) realises the feat of winning The Young Artist Prize of £500 plus an exhibition at Cass Art for the second year in a row. The selection panel changes every year and the judges don’t know the name of the artists when they are making their decision, so none of the selectors knew this recent graduate had been awarded the same prize last year with her Self Portrait at Night. Nonetheless, Katherine dazzled again, this time with an honest and intimate portrait entitled Martha Resting.
The Second Prize of £1,000, plus a Maimeri Blu Set, worth £695, and Arches Watercolour Paper, worth £750, is awarded to London-based artist Gideon Summerfield (born 1995) for his classically-inspired yet contemporary piece, The Eternal Evening. “We loved the voluptuous sensuality, the rich colour,and the elegiac mood of Gideon Summerfield’s The Eternal Evening”,says Gill Saunders, “It was quite unlike anything else submitted this year and won unanimous approval and enthusiasm from the judges.”
Scottish portrait painter and printmaker Jennifer McRae (born 1959) takes home the Third Prize of £500, plus a Maimeri Blue Set worth £150, and Aquafine Watercolour Paper worth £500, for her work West End Summer, remarkable for its fresh colours, tight frame and audacious use of perspective. A bird’s eye view of a London interior, this painting demonstrates the artist’s playful mastery of watercolour as a medium, mixing several patterns and textures, from the rattan chair and the carpet to the sitter’s outfit and the objects carefully accumulated in the background. “I felt the studied togetherness that many of us have had recently, locked in with the ones we love”, notes Ishbel Myerscough.
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