The Derbyshire Open is now … open!

The Derbyshire Open Art Exhibition was officially opened last night and you can see the amazing artwork yourself for free until Friday 13 September 2019. Most of the works are for sale. The overall winner, The Derbyshire Trophy is a purchase prize and joins over a thousand other works in the museum’s collection for future generations to enjoy.

59 DERBYSHIRE TROPHY A Winter Walk by Carl Longmate
A Winter Walk by Carl Longmate

The Derbyshire Open Art Competition is run annually by Derbyshire County Council. In this the competition’s 37th year, 258 entries have been received from across Derbyshire and neighbouring counties.  22 entries from young people under 21 years were included in this year’s selection.

140 DCC YOUNG ARTIST AWARD There's No Better View Than Out of my Window by Kitty Sumner
There’s no Better View Than Out of my Window by Kitty Sumner, aged 7

Three judges had the difficult task of choosing the pictures to exhibit and selecting the award winners. Sandra Orme is a Buxton artist and previous winner of the Buxton Spa Prize, Amanda Penman is the editor of Artbeat Magazine which promotes all sorts of artistic and creative activity in Derbyshire and Chris Walters is a member of The Friends of Buxton Museum and Art Gallery. The judges’ selection provides an exhibition celebrating the county and living here:  where we live, the view and how we spend our time. It shows a good feeling about living in Derbyshire: the landscape, the friendliness of the people and the impressive architecture.

The Friends of Buxton Museum and Art Gallery sponsor a purchase prize. Chair of the Friends, Lindsay Crowe presented the award to this year’s winner which will be added to the museum’s collection.

195 FRIENDS PRIZE Seeking the Source- Shooters Clough by Patrick Jones.png
Seeking the Source: Shooter’s Clough by Patrick Jones

One prize has yet to be decided. Visitors are encouraged to help choose the Visitors Choice Prize which will be announced in August. 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.

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.


Winners of the Derbyshire Open

The 33rd Derbyshire Open Art Exhibition opens this weekend. Professional and amateur artists of all ages have submitted work for consideration by a panel of independent judges. The top prize is £750 and the winning work is usually acquired for the museum collection. We have already had some wonderful comments from visitors, who agree with the judges that the standard of entries this year was particularly high. Please make a visit to the exhibition and see if you agree. You can vote in the remaining prize category, the Visitor’s Choice Award, until 2 August (the winner will be announced on 4 August.) The Derbyshire Open Art Exhibition runs until Friday 11 September.

Kinder Downfall by Stuart Johnson, winner of the Derbyshire Trophy 2015
Kinder Downfall by Stuart Johnson, winner of the Derbyshire Trophy 2015

Derbyshire artist Anna Thomas has been kind enough to share her experience of winning the competition in 2014. We hope that it will inspire you to have a go yourself next year. Over to you, Anna:

In 2014, I was awarded The Derbyshire Trophy for my painting Sheep On Hard Ground. It was the first time that I had entered The Derbyshire Open Art Competition and I did not pay much attention to the list of prizes – after all, winning prizes was something that only happened to other people; I was just hoping that I might be lucky enough to get one of my paintings accepted for the exhibition.

The news that I had won the trophy therefore came as a complete and wonderful surprise. This award has helped me to continue to establish myself as an artist, and it is also very special to feel part of a tradition and to know that my work is included in Buxton Museum and Art Gallery’s permanent collection.

My thanks to all at Buxton Museum and Art Gallery and my congratulations to Stuart Johnson, the winner of the 2015 Derbyshire Trophy.  I look forward to seeing your painting, Kinder Downfall.

Sheep on Hard Ground by Anna Thomas, winner of the Derbyshire Trophy 2014
Sheep on Hard Ground by Anna Thomas, winner of the Derbyshire Trophy 2014

Please note that Buxton Museum and Art Gallery takes copyright very seriously and if you wish to use the images in this post, please drop us a line at

From the Derbyshire Open to the Chapel Camera Club

There was a big change of exhibition at Buxton Museum last week as we took down the Derbyshire Open Art Exhibition and replaced it with an equally large display that celebrates thirty years of the Chapel Camera Club. As we gave paintings back to their rightful owners, or people who had bought them, we reflected on the 32nd Derbyshire Open. As usual, the exhibition had its share of controversy. Most visitors seemed to like it, leaving positive comments like these ones:

A wonderful, diverse collection of subject matter and style.
An excellent standard of work with exceptional originality.
Amazing! It makes you want to be creative.
Nice to see paintings other than landscapes.

Not everyone agreed and we had some negative feedback too:

Lack of variations in scale and form; no video art? Not much sculpture?
The Sculpture winner is a joke; come on judges!
Some lovely pieces but giving prizes is highly subjective; part of our X-Factor culture.
Overall low standard. Tenuous Derbyshire connection with some “artworks”. Disappointing.

One of the most surprising comments was about this particular painting by Roger Allen:

How could you choose such a revolting picture? Rotting carcasses?

He Had Seen Sheep Rotting in the Wind and Sun. COMMENDED by Roger Allen.
He Had Seen Sheep Rotting in the Wind and Sun. COMMENDED by Roger Allen

The Derbyshire Open is a very popular event but not everyone agrees with the judges’ decisions; see my blog on the Visitor’s Choice. Some visitors have an axe to grind with the Derbyshire theme and I have written a blog about this too. If would like more general information on the competition, you can find it here.

246 THE MUNRO TROPHY Derbyshire Grit by Fergus Carmichael
THE MUNRO TROPHY Derbyshire Grit by Fergus Carmichael

Replacing the Derbyshire Open is an exhibition by the Chapel Camera Club and you can see it until Saturday 22 November. The group celebrate their thirtieth anniversary with an extensive and varied display of their work; there are landscapes, portraits, wildlife, documentary and “altered reality”. Members of the club have won both national and international awards and the standard is remarkable. If that wasn’t enough, the group are running a series of free photography workshops throughout the exhibition and you can find details here.