Three artists, Jack Burton, Paul Merrick and Tom Pitt announced as joint recipients of the prestigious Overall award for Exeter Contemporary Open 2015 at Exeter Phoenix. In a break from tradition each artist will receive a £500 prize.
The winning works by current Royal Academy of Art student Jack Burton use photography and post-production techniques to explore the point at which the integrity of the image as a factual record becomes unstable. While Welsh artist Tom Pitt’s paintings which are partially obscured by black and white stripes, reference an ongoing dialogue between the act of painting, the subject and himself.
Tom said: ‘When I looked at the programme for the exhibition, I thought, wow, what a strong show… and to win? I’m just thrilled.’
Gateshead-based Paul Merrick, whose compositions in painting and sculpture juxtapose the made with the ready-made, said: ‘Just taking part in this show has been a fantastic experience and obviously, winning has been a bonus.
‘It’s a rare thing for an exhibition and opening to have been put together this well. For me, the best part of these things is when I arrive at a preview and am able to really connect with the other exhibitors, and the people behind making the show happen.
‘It’s all about having conversations and making connections which go on to influence my work and might lead to future collaborations. Exeter Contemporary Open has delivered on the whole experience.’
Introduced this year, the new Moving Image award was given to video artist Ruaidhri Ryan. Concerned with the construction of images in film, the artist will be given the opportunity to reach new crossover audiences through a series of screenings taking place alongside selected films in Exeter Phoenix’s soon to be opened independent cinema. The opportunity will culminate in a special screening of his work at Exeter’s Two Short Nights Film Festival in November.
The four winners’ work is presented alongside pieces from ten other shortlisted artists in a free-entry exhibition at Exeter Phoenix to 31 October 2015.
Now celebrating its 10th year, the Exeter Contemporary Open has become one of the highlights in the South West’s arts calendar. Sponsored by Haines Watts Chartered Accountants, it provides an important national platform for contemporary visual artists. Ben de Cruz, Managing Partner of the firm said, ‘Another fantastic exhibition, the quality of the art seems to get better each year and there are some really wonderful pieces. Again, Haines Watts are absolutely delighted to be associated with the event. Long live Exeter Contemporary Open!’
A further Audience Choice award voted for by visitors to the gallery will be announced on the 23 October. The Exeter Contemporary Open also received generous support from media partner The Big Issue and St Austell’s who provided wine for the exhibition opening.
This year’s judging panel was made up of Welsh artist Sean Edwards, London-based artist, writer and curator Cedar Lewisohn, Nottingham-based independent curator Jennie Syson and Phoenix Gallery curator Matt Burrows.
(from a press release)