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Sunday Times Watercolour Competition 2012

Mark Elsmore, The Potteries National Park, First Prize, Sunday Times Watercolour Competition 2012.

Exhibition preview

MARK Elsmore has been awarded the First Prize of £10,000 for The Potteries National Park in the Sunday Times Watercolour Competition 2012.

Supported by Smith & Williamson, The Sunday Times Watercolour Competition is the largest watercolour competition in the UK and offers a total of £18,000 to artists who demonstrate a high level of skill and creativity.

Born in the Potteries area of North Staffordshire, Mark Elsmore’s family have worked in the Pottery Industry for five generations. Self-taught, he has been painting professionally for 18 years. He is a member of the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists and the Wirral Society of Arts, and regularly exhibits nationally. He has been selected for the Sunday Times Watercolour Competition on twelve occasions. He comments:

The Potteries National Park is painted in the tradition of Edwardian photographic postcards. Stoke-on-Trent used to be a city crammed with terraced houses and pottery factories. Bottle kilns blackened the streets and darkened the skyline. Postcards at the time sarcastically proclaimed: ‘Fresh air from the Potteries’; ‘Stoke soots me’; ‘A Whiff from Staffs’. My painting updates the sarcasm and turns it around.

“Today the Staffordshire Pottery Industry has declined. Bottle kilns are rare and many terraces have gone, areas of derelict land have been reclaimed by nature. The Potteries as a National Park requires a leap of the imagination, but the ‘buddleia city’ that is Stoke-on-Trent today is a changing city. I’m not sure if economics and wasteland can ever be paradise but the lungs of the city are finally getting their fresh air!”

The 2nd Prize of £6,000 goes to Shanti Panchal for his work Cadence of the Heart. Also awarded were the Smith & Williamson Cityscape Prize of £1,500 presented to Chris Myers for his view of the Olympic Park, and The Vintage Classics Prize for Cover Art (£500 commission to create the cover art for a Vintage Classic) awarded to Helen Lindon.

This year, the Sunday Times Watercolour Competition celebrates 25 years of championing the diversity and beauty of the medium of watercolour. The competition, which received a submission of almost a thousand entries this year, celebrates all works produced in water-based mediums, whether abstract or figurative, contemporary or traditional.

An exhibition of 92 works by 72 artists will be on display at the Mall Galleries, London, SW1 from September 17 to September 22. Open daily from 10am – 5pm, admission is free.

The Smith & Williamson tour follows the London exhibition, touring to venues throughout the UK, including The Lightbox, Woking from November 9 to December 2, 2012.