The New Light Prize exhibition, described as the ‘must-see’ exhibition of the North, opens at The Bowes Museum, on Saturday, November 18. In total, 72 artists have been selected to take part in this high profile 4th biennial Prize Exhibition which shines a light on Northern art and will then go on tour following the show in Barnard Castle.

This thought-provoking exhibition features paintings, sculpture, prints and drawings. The artworks, all for sale, range from hyper-real portraits, to gritty urban scenes, abstract paintings, expressive oil landscapes and meticulously drafted drawings. Printmakers include Royal Academicians Anne Desmet RA and Norman Ackroyd RA CBE; Neil Bousfield, whose atmospheric wood engravings capture the essence of the English landscape and Anja Percival whose etchings explore the different ‘moods’ of light. Visitors will be intrigued by works such as Justin Coburn’s beautifully executed ‘Dreaming Hare’, Gavin Watson’s slightly surreal ‘Waiting for Dogot’ and Glen Ibbitson’s figurative ‘Human Bridge’.

This is a chance to discover some of the North’s finest artists, from recent graduates to established artists such as Isobel Peachey, a Burnley-born artist who is the youngest woman commissioned to paint an official portrait of The Queen and Tom Wood, an acclaimed artist whose portrait sitters include Professor Lord Robert Winston and Alan Bennett, both commissioned by the National Portrait Gallery, London.

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Harrogate artist and CEO Emerson Mayes, explains more about the ethos of New Light: “The common thread through all we do is a deep belief that the visual arts matter and the North of England deserves to be celebrated. We also look to highlight those artists who demonstrate exceptional application of practised skills and who are so often overlooked in other competitions”

Selected artists were chosen from over 2,200 entries by an impressive line-up of judges: contemporary artist Charming Baker; renowned art critic and writer Frances Spalding CBE; CEO of the Buy Art Fair and The Manchester Contemporary, Thom Hetherington; chief executive of York Museums Trust Reyahn King; director of Northern Print Anna Wilkinson and CEO of New Light and practising artist, Emerson Mayes. All shortlisted artists also have the chance to receive some of the UK’s best art prizes; the £10,000 Valeria Sykes Award; a Patron’s Choice Award of £2,500, Printmakers’ Prize and Emerging Artist Award.

  • The New Light Prize Exhibition runs at the Bowes Museum until January 2018 before touring. For more details, visit www.newlight-art.org.uk

NEW LIGHT PRIZE EXHIBITION ARTISTS

Rhea Sherriff-Hammond

Rhea is a British fine artist working primarily in oils from her farmhouse studio on the North Yorkshire Moors. Rhea trained in Fine Art at Hull University and has featured in solo and group exhibitions mainly in the north of the country. Painterly traditions and disciplines remain central to her concerns, with a love of mythology, surrealist, symbolist and Pre-Raphaelite art.

Rhea invites us to reach beyond words and language to explore the essential elements of the human soul. She addresses notions of grief, love, death, hope and despair, light and dark and the mysteries of the natural world. Using oils and embracing the magical properties of gold and silver leaf, the haunting, rich symbolic imagery in her paintings transforms the great chasm of the psyche into universal metaphors for ‘the human condition’.

“Before I began painting ‘No Place, No Plan’ I was in a dark period of my life. I had been seeking the light for a long time," she says. "This painting expresses both the despair, hope, stagnation and isolation that I felt. Hope doesn’t necessarily mean having dewy-eyed optimism - it can sometimes simply mean having the fortitude to exist in the empty void... and to keep existing everyday.”

Miranda Richmond

Miranda studied in Bristol and moved to the North-East in 1982, living initially in rural North Yorkshire and then in Middlesbrough. She works primarily as a landscape painter, but has an ongoing interest in portraiture and figure work.

As a landscape painter, her usual practice is to work outdoors directly from the subject, frequently on a series in one location over a period of months, even years, through different seasons, and times of day. She makes numerous drawings of a subject in a variety of media, attempting to discover a dynamic structure which is both a physical response and the result of careful observation.

Alongside her painting practice, Miranda has worked variously as a care and support worker, in adult education, and running classes and workshops. She has exhibited widely in the North-East and elsewhere.

Justin Coburn

Justin was born in the North-East and studied Fine art in the late 1980s. He then worked in a series of jobs which he says neither nourished the belly, nor the soul, and later went back to college to study design. Subsequently, he went on to work in commercial design.

After a long period of illness, he returned to painting. In his most recent work, he has been particularly interested in the representation of animals and how this allows us not only to think about our relationship with nature and how this manifests itself through art - be it symbolic, religious, or ethical - but also how we perceive ourselves and our own uncertain being in the world.

He lives in Durham city with his wife and daughter and now works full time as a painter.