There are no less than eleven prizes up for grabs in Buxton Museum’s annual art competition The Derbyshire Open. The first ten are chosen by an independent panel of experts but we’re interested in what our visitors think too, hence the Visitor’s Choice Award. The public have the first month of the exhibition to decide if they agree with the judges and vote for their favourite artwork, using slips of paper dropped anonymously into a box. Beauty is, after all, in the eye of the beholder. Receiving a total of 105 votes this year, An Engagement at the Opera House by Karl Schindler, is a clear winner of the Visitor’s Choice. It is a bold, colourful and affectionate rendition of one of Buxton’s most famous landmarks and has obviously struck a chord with the masses.

An Engagement at the Opera House Karl Schindler

I had a chance to chat to Karl about his successful entry into the competition; he remarked that out of all the awards, he was particularly pleased to win the Visitor’s Choice. Surprisingly, Karl has only been painting for around five years. Usually commissioned for portraits, he decided to have a go at something different. What strikes me about the painting is that it brings a certain warmth and splendour to what is already an impressive and well-loved building. What I failed to notice, however, is the story within the image; it isn’t called An Engagement at the Opera House for nothing. Karl drew my attention to this detail.

An Engagement at the Opera House detail

I wonder if this romantic feature is what resonates with many visitors to the exhibition? Karl explained to me that he added texture to the paint but he was just lucky that the intended’s engagement ring ended up on a tiny grain. A cheque for £100 is awarded to the artist for his noble endeavour. Perhaps next year it will be you? The Derbyshire Open Art Exhibition is on until Friday 5 September, you can plan your visit at our website