A CHAPELFORD artist inspired by the hobbyist craft movement has won Warrington Contemporary Arts Festival’s open competition.

Marie Jones has been awarded £2,000 and her first solo exhibition after picking up her trophy at a ceremony on Friday.

The competition was hotly contested with nearly 300 artists and photographers submitting the ‘highest standard of work seen in the history of the event’.

But Marie impressed judges with three entries that utilised hobbyist craft techniques and typography.

To Do is a machine and hand-knitted ‘to do’ list, T-Line Cooper Black Dress demonstrates the parallels between the letter ‘T’ and garment making and Find Your Thing is inspired by the current trend in coaching people to utilise their best skills and find their purpose.

Marie said: “I’m very excited and I feel so very grateful to be chosen from what is a really strong show.

“I’ve recently moved into the area and wanted to engage in the Warrington arts scene. It’s the first open exhibition I have taken part in and I’m really excited that it is in what is now my local gallery.

“The solo exhibition I’ve won as part of the prize will be really integral to my artistic practice and I feel very lucky to have been selected.”


Marie Jones with Martina Murphy, cultural manager for Culture Warrington

Now in its eighth year, Warrington Contemporary Arts Festival (WCAF) open competition offers up to £2,000 in prize money for the first time to help catapult the winning artist’s career into the professional sphere.

Martina Murphy, cultural manager for Culture Warrington, the charity which runs WCAF and Warrington Museum and Art Gallery, added: “I can honestly say I was wowed by the quality of entries we received this year.

“The standard just keeps getting better and better and this year, perhaps thanks to the significant increase in winnings, I believe we have attracted the best artists and photographers in the area, the entries have undoubtedly surpassed previous standards.

“I hope the £2,000 will now provide the winner – the very deserving Marie Jones – with a real opportunity to make that next step on her career path.”

Gary Jones, BTEC fine art and design co-ordinator at Priestley College and one of the open competition judges, said Marie’s work was ‘whimsical’, ‘playful’ and ‘utilised processes that raise the status of craft, making fresh and contemporary-feeling work’.

He added: “It has a sense of humour, a theme which runs through a number of the exhibits, and I hope it proves to be a popular choice. The work that was shortlisted is beautifully diverse and an eclectic mix representing the talent of professional and amateur artists in the region.

“The range that we selected makes for a refreshing and accessible show with something for everyone.”

Also singled out for special mention was Alice Cornelia, whose entries Back Now and Tip were highly commended by the judges.

The open competition exhibition, which is on display at Warrington Museum and Art Gallery until November 11, sits alongside Hannah Leighton-Boyce’s Dreaming of Dead Fish which was also unveiled on Friday evening.

Hannah has developed a series of newly-commissioned works in glass, soot, slide film and projection inspired by the Warrington Museum’s ephemera collection.

Ephemera is written or printed materials that are preserved for study or education.

Other highlights of this year’s festival, which is supported by Warrington Borough Council and Arts Council England, include Ventoux, a restaging of the epic battle between cyclist Lance Armstrong and Marco Pantani, and Mik Artistik’s Ego Trip, a part-music, part-comedy experience.

Warrington Contemporary Arts Festival highlights

WCAF open exhibition

Warrington Museum and Art Gallery, until November 11

Now in its eighth year, the open exhibition celebrates the talents of contemporary artists from Warrington and the north west.

Hannah Leighton-Boyce’s Dreaming of Dead Fish

Warrington Museum and Art Gallery, until October 27

Hannah’s work ranges from site-specific and ephemeral actions, to drawing, sound and installation.

Her previous work includes a collaborative live sculpture made with residents of Helmshore, Lancashire, set within the context of the area’s industrial heritage, and an audio installation which explored ideas of disembodiment.


Pyramid, October 13

Relive the epic rivalry of two sports champions with this stage drama presented by 2Magpies Theatre.

Experience Lance Armstrong and Marco Pantani’s drug-fuelled race up Mount Ventoux in the Tour de France, which saw both cyclists strive for ultimate success but sent their lives spiralling in opposite directions.

Big Draw Festival Weekend

Warrington Museum and Art Gallery, October 13 and 14

A weekend full of family-friendly fun and games including a family art workshop.

Mik Artistik’s Ego Trip

Pyramid, November 2

Loved by critics and a firm favourite at Glastonbury, this is a show which has to be seen to be believed. Part music, part comedy – and part off-the-scale random ramblings – Mik’s shows are largely improvised based on their interactions with the audience and what mood they are in.