New Light shines on region’s art

Guest blogger Rebecca Dew can be found Tweeting at @rebeccadewnctj

Guest blogger Rebecca Dew can be found Tweeting at @rebeccadewnctj

AN exhibition hotly tipped to be one of the most exciting shows of contemporary art in the region was visited by hundreds of art fanatics when it opened at The Bowes Museum and Rebecca Dew was front of the queue.

The biennial New Light Exhibition is the largest open exhibition dedicated to art from just the Northern regions of England, celebrating our famed northern pride.

Open only to artists who were born, studied or live in one of the historical counties of the North, the New Light recognises and rewards the skills of talented Northern artists by awarding the region’s best artwork prizes of up to £10,000 and career enhancing exhibition opportunities.

ATTRACTION: The New Light exhibition at The Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle, was popular with hundreds of visitors.

ATTRACTION: The New Light exhibition at Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle, was popular with hundreds of visitors.

Comprising of a shortlisted 84 outstanding works from 61 acclaimed artists of which only four winners were selected the exhibition was also a fierce competition, ran by the prestigious judging panel.

Following its tenure at The Bowes Muesum, the exhibition will tour to the Mercer Gallery in Harrogate and the Panter and Hall Fine Art Gallery in London’s Pall Mall.

Making up the panel were Annette Petchey, Lord Crathorne, Chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Arts and Heritage Group, print maker Norman Ackroyd, Mathew Hall, Director of Panter & Hall Gallery and art reviewer Laura Gascoigne.

PANELIST: Annette Petchey, founder and chief executive of New Light.

EXCITEMENT: Annette Petchey, founder and chief executive of New Light announcing the winners.

“None of the open exhibitions I’ve judged in the past has tapped into such a pool of undiscovered talent,” said Laura Gascoigne when asked about the great success of the exhibition opening.

“There are always a few established artists whose work one recognises, but nearly all the artists here were new to me and there were several I was astonished – and rather ashamed – not to have come across. “I hope this exposure will make them more visible in future. The sheer variety of work, at all levels, was heartening – it bolstered my faith in the vigour of British painting.”


NORTHERN PRIDE: The judging panel, organisers and prize winners of the 2015 New Light Exhibition.


ACCOLADE: The artists who went home winners were named as Emma Lawrenson, Anna Poulton, Mandy Payne and Joshua Waterhouse (pictured left-right).

Prizes included the Valeria Sykes Award of £10,000, won by Mandy Payne for her work ‘Broken Brutalism’; the Patron’s Choice Award of £2,500, won by Joshua Waterhouse for oil painting ‘Josephine’; the Swinton Foundation Prize for emerging artists, offering mentoring, professional advice and exhibition opportunities, won by Anna Poulton for her piece ‘Figs’ and the Printmakers’ Prize to Emma Lawrenson’s ‘Stone Pen’.

The most important prize however is The Visitors’ Choice Award, which will be voted for by visitors at each of the three exhibition venues and announced when the exhibition closes.

Proving not only that the North can brag extravagant artistic talent that can compete with London’s art scene, the opening of the New Light exhibition also reflected upon the pride of the region as we flooded to celebrate the showcasing of our contemporary art.


The New Light exhibition at the Bowes Museum until February 7, open daily from 10am to 5pm.


The Bowes Museum at 01833 690606, by visiting or tweeting to @TheBowesMuseum for more information and exhibition prices.