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Behind the scenes of the John Moores Painting Prize 2018

11 January 2018 by Alex Patterson

Alex Patterson at her desk working

Alex Patterson, Assistant Curator of Fine Art

I’m thrilled to be working on the John Moores Painting Prize while it celebrates its 60th Anniversary! I’m Assistant Curator of Fine Art for National Museums Liverpool and this year I have joined the Prize’s Project Manager, Katherine Lloyd, to oversee various stages of the competition.

It’s been all hands on deck over the past couple of months. The Call for Entries has now closed and we received a whopping 2,701 admissions! There is some amazing work this year and there will certainly be some tough competition.

Once we receive all the entries, we organise the information and images into a huge database, which is sent out to the jurors. This gives them the opportunity to become familiar with the work and see all of the paintings together for the first time. For this year’s competition, it meant that there was a lot for the judges to do over Christmas to prepare themselves for Stage one judging, scheduled for mid-January – next week! At this point, as is the case throughout the competition, the whole judging process is anonymous, and the jurors are not told who the artists are.

We have a great group of jurors in this anniversary year and I am anticipating some really interesting conversations. I was thrilled to hear that one of our jurors, Lubaina Himid, had won the Turner Prize. If her selections from our current Arts Council Collection National Partnership exhibition, Lubaina Himid: Meticulous Observations and Naming the Money at the Walker Art Gallery are anything to go by, she has some fantastic and broad-ranging ideas.

Our other jurors are the sculptor Bruce McLean, who won the John Moores Painting Prize in 1985 with his painting Oriental Garden, Kyoto (currently on display at the Walker in Room 15), Liu Xiaodong, our Chinese juror, who is a painter of modern life, and Jenni Lomax, former director of Camden Art Centre. There is also the artist Marvin Gaye Chetwynd, a 2012 Turner Prize nominee, who I am eager to meet. She has been working in Liverpool a lot over the past few years and her work Sexy Collages has just been acquired by the Walker Art Gallery. Together, our jurors bring a vast experience of contemporary art and it will be fascinating to see how they discuss and select the paintings for the exhibition.

In advance of next week, Katherine and I are busy preparing the Stage one judging and trying to anticipate what the jurors will need to get them through the demanding, but enjoyable selection process.

Best of luck to all of the artists!

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