John Moores Painting Prize: exhibitors announced

The exhibitors of the 2012 John Moores Painting Prize were announced today. We spoke to one of those selected by the judges…

In 1957, Sir John Moores (plain old John Moores at that point) established his painting prize. With the aim of drawing attention away from the bright lights of London for five minutes to illuminate the talent and creativity of the North – some things never change – the painting prize is considered by many to be the Oscars of the British painting world.

Running every two years, the award has a hard-won reputation for spotting future stars (Peter Blake won the Junior Prize in 1961 for Self Portrait with Badges) and emerging artists, and today saw the announcement of the list of exhibitors for this year’s most prestigious painting prize. 62 paintings have been whittled down from more than 3000 hopefuls by a panel of judges including creative director of the BBC Alan Yentob, and Iwona Blazwick, director of the Whitechapel gallery.

We caught up with one of those selected, Matt Welch, who at just 23 was also appointed a new director of Liverpool’s Royal Standard gallery earlier this year.

The Double Negative: Why did you apply?

Matt Welch: The John Moores Prize has always been an important thing for me; I think it produces a really great exhibition at the Walker Gallery. I applied as a way to support and try to be a part of that experience.

TDN: What was the process like?

MW: It was pretty quick really. If you get through to the next round you go give your work to someone and get a pink receipt (which I have subsequently lost) and then you wait. So until I found out the news I didn’t really think about it. Since then I have had to keep it a secret!

TDN: What does it feel like to be chosen out of so many people?

MW: I think it’s a really strong panel this year and really great that my work got selected. When I was younger I visited the John Moores Prize and the collection of winners in their permanent collection … some of the work in that collection, I think, has had a definite impact on my interests in painting early on. People like Dan Hays (1997) and Alexis Harding (2004) come to mind. There’s a broad variety of practices represented in that collection which is a small representation of the even greater body of contemporary practices represented by the prize as a whole. And even more recently with artists like Peter McDonald (2008) whose work I think is really strong. So I think it’s a really good institution to be involved with and it’s great that it opens at the beginning of the Biennial.

The winner of the prize, who receives £25,000, is due to be announced later this year on the 14th of September, before the exhibition opens to the public at the Walker Art Gallery, a day later, and until the 6th January next year. With past winners including David Hockney and Peter Doig, who knows what talent 2012’s vintage will bring to our attention? We can’t wait to find out.

Image: Paul Collinson, Temple of Ancient Virtue (2010)

See list in full on the Walker Art Gallery’s website

Posted on 28/06/2012 by thedoublenegative