John Moores Prizewinners

15 December 2017 by Ann Bukantas

Past winners include Peter Doig (left wall) and Jack Smith (far wall)

Whilst the recent entries to the 2018 John Moores Painting Prize are being prepared for the first stages of judging which will take place early in the new year, we’ve prepared a re-display of some of the works by past first prize winners that opens this weekend at the Walker Art Gallery. The display celebrates of 60 years of the John Moores Painting Prize and includes works since the first competition in 1957.

The artworks on show are from the Walker’s collection. They are a legacy of the John Moores Painting Prize exhibitions which have been held at the Gallery almost every two years since 1957. The exhibition was one of Britain’s first contemporary art prizes and is named after its original sponsor, Sir John Moores (1896-1993), founder of the Littlewoods business empire. The competition’s aims were:

To give Merseyside the chance to see an exhibition of painting and sculpture embracing the best and most vital work being done today throughout the country and To encourage contemporary artists, particularly the young and progressive.

As anyone who has entered the competition recently will know, the John Moores Painting Prize is open to artists working in the UK. It has always been an open submission competition with prize money. A total of £605,310 in prizes has been awarded since 1957!

2004 winner Alexis Harding (left) alongside Noel Forster’s 1978 winner.

The paintings and the prize winners are selected by a different jury each year. The exhibition has consistently helped to raise the profile of the artists included, and in particular to further the careers of its winners. Notable examples include David Hockney, Lisa Milroy and Peter Doig. It’s worth adding here that Peter Getting out of Nick’s Pool, which famously won the first prize for Hockney in 1967, won’t be in the new display. It has recently travelled to Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, where it will be included in the exhibition Coming Out: Sexuality, Gender & Identity. This show, which was one of the Walker’s exhibition highlights of recent months, has toured to Birmingham as part of the Arts Council Collection National Partners Programme. The inclusion of the Hockney painting demonstrates the life that prize winning paintings have once they enter the collection.

For the Walker Art Gallery, the Prize has created the backbone of its collection of contemporary British painting. The winning works reflect some of the major trends over the past 50 years, including kitchen sink realism, abstraction, pop art and figurative art.

1969 Winner, Cross by Mary Martin (left) and Tim Head’s Cow Mutations.

The display is an opportunity to take an exciting look through some key moments in British painting over the last 60 years by artists including Jack Smith, Roger Hilton, Mary Martin, Andrzej Jackowski, John Hoyland, Sarah Pickstone, Rose Wylie and Michael Simpson, among many other well deserved winners.

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