Derbyshire Open Art Competition 2019

DCC AWARD 36 Ice Cream in Matlock Bath by Joanne Morley - Copy
Ice Cream in Matlock Bath by Joanne Morley Derbyshire County Council Award 2018

It’s nearly time again for Derbyshire’s premier art competition. Since 1982, the Derbyshire Open has attracted amateur and professional artists of all ages competing for a range of prizes and a place in the museum collection. Now in its 38th year, the resulting exhibition is the highlight of our summer programme. Entry form and details below:

Entry Form DOE 2019

If you want to just come and see the amazing artwork, the exhibition is on from Saturday 6 July to Friday 13 September. You can plan your visit here.

Visitor’s Choice Derbyshire Open Art Exhibition 2018

The people have spoken and the winner of this year’s Visitor’s Choice Award goes to Ewan by Phoebe Wilman, with 104 public votes. Well done, Phoebe!


All the more incredible when you consider the oil portrait was a final piece for Phoebe’s Art GCSE at a local school. Phoebe has now moved on to college to study graphic design, photography, maths and Japanese. She hopes to go to university to continue graphic design. With her painting beating those of professional artists hanging alongside, it’s certainly a promising start.

Phoebe told me:

Although the work I do now at college is more digital-based (I actually haven’t painted for over a year now), I’m really enjoying it; we’ve had a few live briefs from people out of school, and I ended up being chosen to produce some typography to promote a production of Joseph and his Technicolour Dreamcoat at Romiley Theatre, as well as being part of a small group that got chosen to have our mural of Florence Nightingale put up in Stepping Hill Hospital to celebrate 70 years of the NHS.

Ewan took 8 weeks to complete which consisted of Phoebe going in for an hour twice a week before school, and staying for about 2/3 hours two or three times a week after school, as well as having 3 art lessons a week. Her hard work and dedication has paid off; the intensity of a young musician’s performance has obviously struck a chord (no pun intended) with visitors to the gallery over the last few weeks. I asked Phoebe how and why her creation came in to being:

I had chosen the subject because I’d done a very small piece for my project of the same model playing the piano, and my art teacher wanted to see more of this kind of work, and it kinda lead to this whole big music-based art project. Ewan himself is actually a friend of mine that I’ve known since primary school, and we were also in the same choir as well as both being a part of Peak District Music Centre. Since he was the model in the start of this project, I thought it would be fitting if he finalised it too.

As far as the medium goes, we only really used oil paint at school, and it was helpful that it took a while to dry so I could go back and add to or change things a day or two after. I also chose to use a palette knife because it matched the style of Leonid Afremov (who I was researching at the time, and also explains my use of bright colours), and also because I actually couldn’t paint very well with brushes for the whole of my first year of GCSE!

I’m actually not sure why it’s so popular! Maybe it’s the bright colours or maybe the fact that I feel like Ewan’s rather well-known around Buxton and maybe people just recognised the painting to be of him? I was really surprised so many people voted for it to be quite honest, as there were so many amazing art pieces in this year’s exhibition, and I believe the Visitor’s Choice Award over the past few years have been given to older, more experienced and professional artists.

It’s not for sale because I’d actually like to give the painting to Ewan and his family (if he still wants it, hopefully!)

COMMENDED 88 Harry by Phoebe Wilman

You can see Phoebe’s award-winning artwork and another called Harry, which won a commendation from the judges, plus many more until Friday 31 August. Admission free.

You can plan your visit here.

Vote for Your Favourite Artwork

The 36th Derbyshire Open Art Exhibition is now on display at Buxton Museum and Art Gallery. This year, 252 entries have been received of which 110 entries were selected. The exhibition includes 31 entries from young people under 21 years.

This selection and the choices for the prizes was made by four judges: Lucy Bamford, Senior Curator of Fine Arts at Derby Museums; Peter Oates, Head of Arts at St.Thomas More School, Buxton; Seiko Kinoshita, Artist and Hilary Armitage, member of The Friends of Buxton Museum and Art Gallery. The judges complimented Derbyshire County Council for its continued commitment to visual art.  They appreciated that entry to the competition remains free, alongside free admission to the museum.

One of the prizes is decided by visitors to the exhibition so if you don’t agree with the judges, you can vote for your favourite and the artwork with the most votes by 5th August receives The Visitor’s Choice Award.

Derbyshire County Council is pleased to continue as the principle sponsor of the exhibition alongside Tarmac and the Friends of Buxton Museum and Art Gallery. Councillor Barry Lewis, Leader of Derbyshire County Council and Cabinet Member for Strategic Leadership, Culture and Tourism acknowledged the artists’ commitment to this exhibition which he said “is demonstrated by the continuing high standard, and by the artists submitting work year after year, for selection.”

Pete Butterworth, General Manager for Stone and Powders of Tarmac, said: “We are delighted to sponsor the Derbyshire Open Art Competition for another year, encouraging artists of all ages and both amateur and professional to come forward with their work.” He was looking to hearing who the winners are and to seeing an array of artistic works on display at the Buxton Museum and Art Gallery.

The Derbyshire Open Art Exhibition runs until 31st August. Admission is free and many works are for sale.

The Derbyshire Open Art Exhibition 2017

The 35th Derbyshire Open Art Exhibition is now available to see until 1st September. Each year we invite artists, both professional and amateur, to capture aspects of life and landscape in Derbyshire, illustrating why the county is special to them.

This year the judges looked at 264 entries, and selected 80, including 17 works from young people aged 21 and under.  The selection was made by Louise Potter, Derbyshire representative for the Art Fund; Louise Cross, Director of Buxton Crescent Trust; Simon Watson, sculptor and artist in residence at the museum and Jean Monk, a member of the Friends of Buxton Museum and Art Gallery. The judges were pleased that artists entered work to a really high standard, showing Derbyshire in many different ways.

Come and decide for yourself if you agree with the judge’s choices. You will see dramatic landscapes and intimate events. There is great energy in some works and calming reflection in others. There’s a Visitor’s Choice Award too. decided by visitors to the gallery.

You can plan your visit here.

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.