Graham Crowley wins John Moores Painting Prize with 10th entry

An artist who has entered a painting competition 10 times since 1976 has finally won the top prize with a work inspired by a motorcycle dealership.

Suffolk's Graham Crowley beat 3,357 others to take the John Moores Painting Prize, which is awarded by Liverpool's Walker Art Gallery biennially.

He said his entry, Light Industry, was inspired by the "enthralling" light at a Framlingham dealership he visited.

He added that winning the prize had always been "one of my ambitions".

A record number of paintings were entered for the 2023 prize and were whittled down to a shortlist of five.

As well as Crowley's work, the list also included Nicholas Baldion's Social Murder: Grenfell In Three Parts, which told the story of what happened before and after the 2017 fire.

However, it was Light Industry which took the £25,000 prize and most impressed the judging panel, which included writers Gabrielle de la Puente and Zarina Muhammad.


They said it had a "rugged use of paint that manages to make a rugged scene absolutely glow" and was "a blur of painting that makes memory and space momentarily lucid".

"In places, the monochromatic image ceases to be an image and paint and colour take over, which is very much the desired effect of a workshop - a haven we know all creatives are excited by," they added.

Crowley, whose enthusiasm for the prize has seen him shortlisted for it twice before and serve as part of its judging panel in the past, said it was "without doubt the UK's pre-eminent painting competition and exhibition".

"One of my ambitions, apart from painting the best paintings I possibly can, has always been to win," he said.

"I am thrilled to be the first prize winner this year."

He said he owed much of his success as an artist to his previous places on its shortlists.

"Exhibiting as part of the prize in the past has played a significant part in establishing my reputation as a painter," he said.

"This is important as I, like most practising painters, am not represented by a gallery or commercial interest."

He said Light Industry had been painted after he visited the dealership, which he said was part workshop and part counter-cultural museum.

"What I found enthralling about the place was the light; a diffused, dusty kind of light that emanated from a grubby, obscured skylight," he said.

An exhibition of 70 of this year's entries, including Crowley's winning work will be on display at the Liverpool gallery until 25 February 2024.

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