The OPEN 2022 exhibition is now open at the Leamington Spa Art Gallery & Museum. A Private View took place on Thursday 6th October and the overall Winner selected from a total of 350 pieces, was revealed as Mark Elsmore, with his stunning painting entitled ‘Playlist’ – Watercolour Gouache. Warwick District Council’s Chairman, Mini Mangat was in attendance to present the lucky winner with his £1000 prize.
Mark said, “Listening to music, deep in thought. The Playlist she is hearing is the soundtrack of her life.” I was in Vienna with an aim to paint architecture, but it was impossible not to notice the young woman looking so interesting and painterly. I spotted her from a distance, she was sitting outside a church. She seemed lost in her thoughts, but getting closer I noticed her red boots tapping to the rhythm of the beat from her earphones… Lost in music?
She was a tourist like me, enjoying the sunshine. I tentatively asked if she would mind me taking a couple of photos for a possible painting. Bemused she shrugged her approval. The spell was broken as soon as she looked up but eventually I managed to get her to resume the original pose.
I worked on the painting back at home.
Her likeness is good. I’ve altered a few things to help the narrative. The image is quiet, a good contrast to the lively sounds and thoughts within her head. I’ve changed her hair a bit to suggest a breeze and give an almost ethereal feeling. I’m trying to capture more than a still image.
I have a theory that the music you imagine she is listening to will colour your own thoughts about her story.
The independent judging panel (Stacey Barnfield, Victoria Smith and Otto Saumarez-Smith) awarded some ‘Highly Commended’ pieces and these along with all of the chosen entries are now on display in the temporary gallery at the Leamington Spa Art Gallery & Museum. Visitors to the gallery can also vote for their favourite artwork, which will receive the coveted People’s Choice Award of £500 and will be announced towards the end of the exhibition, in December.
Last seen in 2019, the Open has been a regular popular feature of Leamington Spa Art Gallery & Museum’s programme since the 1930s. OPEN 2022 is an eclectic mix of artistic forms, with previous Opens featuring, amongst others, sculpture, photography, installation pieces, computer generated imagery and textiles
Both prizes are kindly donated by Friends of Leamington Art Gallery (FLAG).
Admission to the Leamington Spa Art Gallery & Museum is free. Opening hours are Tuesday – Sunday, 10am – 4pm
(Photo: Open Winner Mark Elsmore with Warwick District Chairman, Mini Mangat)