Category Archives: Derbyshire Open Art Competition

Small is Beautiful

We are always pleased at Buxton Museum and Art Gallery when a local artist we know does well. Laura Critchlow won the Made in Derbyshire prize in the museum’s annual art competition The Derbyshire Open in 2015. Despite being a miniature painting, Windfall stood out amongst its larger neighbours.


Windfall acrylic (copyright Laura Critchlow)

Since then, five more of Laura’s miniatures have been accepted in the Royal Miniature Societies Exhibition, held in the Mall Galleries just off Trafalgar Square in London.  In 2016, Laura was appointed Associate Royal Miniature Society member, giving her the title of Laura Critchlow ARMS.

Later in the year, Laura also gained a place in the final of the National Open Art Exhibition. This time, her miniature was up against large scale work, exhibiting in the Mercers Hall, London. The tiny painting held its own as it was snapped up by a buyer.


Continuing the success, Laura’s miniature work Pear Shaped was chosen for the ING Discerning Eye Exhibition, also held at the Mall Galleries in London.  Laura went down to the artist preview, where she got the chance to meet Chris Orr RA; the judge that chose her work.  Much to her amazement, Laura won the Wright Purchase Prize along with a trophy and a cash prize.  The work has been added to the Wright Art Collection.

Laura has just found out that her work Overlooked has been accepted in the Lynn Painter Stainers exhibition, running 6-18th March 2017, again held in Mall Galleries.  Laura is delighted to be on the 80 person shortlist for the prize, out of 2000 entries; its highest number to date.

It’s an amazing run of triumph for Laura. However, we often find that an artist’s work speaks for itself and it goes to show that size doesn’t matter. Infact, small artworks invite the viewer to step closer and have the power to draw you in.

Visitor’s Choice 2016

The Visitor’s Choice Award in the 34th Derbyshire Open Art Competition goes to Millstone Graveyard by Stuart Johnson. Well done, Stuart, you are the people’s champion!

124 with artist

Stuart with Millstone Graveyard

Stuart is pleased to receive the recognition of Buxton Museum’s visitors but also very relaxed. He is no stranger to success in the county’s premier art competition. In 2012, his painting, Mam Tor- Sunrise, also bagged the Visitor’s Choice Award. Last year, another of his creations, Kinder Downfall, received no less than the top prize, the Derbyshire Trophy.

Visitors Choice Award - Mam Tor - Sunrise by S Johnson copy.jpg

Mam Tor – Sunrise

It seems that if you want to succeed in the Derbyshire Open, you should take a leaf out of Stuart’s book. I asked him why he thought his art resonated so well with both judges and visitors. He speculated that it is easy to relate to his choice of subjects; many of the images that Stuart selects exemplify Derbyshire, particularly the millstones of this year’s winning picture.


Kinder Downfall

Despite his achievements, it is encouraging to some of us that Stuart has no formal training in art. It is merely a pastime he has kept up for fifty years, alongside walking, rock climbing and other outdoor pursuits. He takes his time in his own studio, allowing two or three weeks to complete a piece. We look forward to seeing what he brings in next year. If you feel inspired by Stuart’s endeavours and you would like to have a go yourself, check our website.

Visitor’s Choice 2015

Visitor’s Choice 2014


What’s your favourite work of art?

There are only two weeks left to vote for your favourite artwork in the 34th Derbyshire Open Art Exhibition. An independent panel of judges award prizes to nine talented artists but we are always interested in what our visitors think so there is a tenth accolade decided by you. Curiously, the decisions of the public can be very different from those of the experts. Here is the 2014 winner by Karl Schindler and the 2015 winner by Zen Zamojski:

The great thing about the Derbyshire Open is that the work is very diverse. Although the exhibits must have a link with the county, we still find the approach varies a great deal. There are traditional landscapes but they rub shoulders with more abstract and stylised depictions. There are portraits of Derbyshire characters too and sculpture fashioned from local materials.

Some of this year’s entries; top left: Buxton’s Beauties by Catriona Hall. Top right: The Old Sun by Sophie Hall. Bottom: Stuart by Wayne Fallon.

You can visit the exhibition until Friday 2nd September. Voting for the Visitor’s Choice ends on Sunday 7th August. We recommend that you combine your visit with the Green Man Gallery next door. That’s a lot of top-notch artwork you can see absolutely free!


The 34th Derbyshire Open Art Competition results

Each year we invite artists, both professional and amateur, to capture aspects of life and landscape in Derbyshire, illustrating why Derbyshire is special to them.

20 Derbyshire Trophy Derbyshire Moors by Harry McArdle

The Derbyshire Trophy 2016 Derbyshire Moors by Harry McArdle

This year the judges looked at 309 entries, and selected 105, including 29 works from young people aged 21 and under.

87 Young Artist Award River Garden Girl by Charlie Collins

The Derbyshire County Council Young Artist Award River Garden Girl by Charlie Collins

The selection was made by Tracey Barlow, Artist; Louise Dunning, Curator of Fine and Decorative Art at Nottingham City Museums and Galleries; Mark Suggitt, Director, Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site and Dawn Kent, Artist and a member of the Friends of Buxton Museum and Art Gallery.

They were pleased that artists entered work to a really high standard, showing Derbyshire in many different ways. You will see dramatic landscapes and intimate depictions of everyday lives. There is great energy in some works and calming reflection in others.

127 Friends Trophy Eyam Hall by Leri Kinder

The Friends Trophy Eyam Hall – Detail by Leri Kinder

Derbyshire County Council is grateful to Tarmac and the Friends of Buxton Museum and Art Gallery for their continued sponsorship of this competition. With their support, we continue to encourage artists and provide an exhibition celebrating both creativity and talent.

The five Derbyshire County Council Awards are The Penitent by Julia Kiely, Winter Landscape near Hartington by Helen Cunliffe, Winter Quarters by Roger Allen, Builder’s Yard, Belper by Kathryn Morton, and Water Over Rocks, Padley Gorge by David Clark.

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You can see the exhibition for yourself until Friday 2 September. Plan your visit here.


Derbyshire Open 2015: Visitor’s Choice

Artist Zen Zamojski has enjoyed some success in Buxton of late. Two of his artworks have been selected for the Derbyshire Open Art Exhibition and both have been sold. He then won the accolade of Best Visual Artist in the Buxton Festival Fringe. If this wasn’t achievement enough, his work Cyclists in the Rain also scooped up the Derbyshire Open’s Visitor’s Choice Award with 70 votes. I could not give the man enough good news!

I eventually had the opportunity to meet Zen and ask him about his life and art. Amazingly, he does not consider himself a professional, though I’m sure that those that do would be green with envy. His Midas touch is no mystery; the skill and diligence to detail is evident.

Cyclists in the Rain by Zen Zamojski

Cyclists in the Rain by Zen Zamojski

Zen has experimented with different forms of art since he was a teenager, including gouache and ball point pen, using mostly BIC biros. Both of the pictures currently in Buxton were created with ball point which, as you can imagine, took considerable time to complete.

Inspired by artists such as Picasso and Braque, the style of Cyclists in the Rain has been with Zen for a long time and is one he uses often. When he starts a picture in this approach, Zen never knows how it is going to evolve but has an idea where he wants it to go.

I absolutely love complexity in my art work because it brings a real challenge to make it all come together, and I am also stickler for detail, such as the sheep drawing. The sheep drawings that I have done are inspired by our friend`s sheep farm on the North Yorkshire moors – Swaledale sheep.

3 Tups by Zen Zamojski

3 Tups by Zen Zamojski