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John Moores Painting Prize winner announced in online reveal

Kathryn Maple has been announced as the winner of the 2020 John Moores Painting Prize in a special online ceremony.

The 31-year-old artist - whose work The Common, portraying a crowd in park, was praised for its 'special poignancy at a difficult time' - receives £25,000 and the opportunity to stage an exhibition of her work at the Walker Art Gallery.

Each of the four runners up, Robbie Bushe, Steph Goodger, Michele Fletcher and Stephen Lee, will receive £2,500.

Meanwhile the inaugural Emerging Artist award, sponsored by Winsor & Newton, has also been revealed, and goes to Kiki Xuebing Wang for Untitled (Loafer). She receives £2,500 and premium art materials of the same value.

Read about the shortlisted artists

Almost 3,000 anonymous submissions were whittled down to 67 works by this year’s judging panel, with the paintings going on show in an exhibition at the Walker Art Gallery.

Visitors will have a chance to see the exhibition in person when the gallery reopens, hopefully on May 17 depending on the Government's Covid lockdown roadmap. Until then there is a chance to be led on a virtual tour of the artworks.

People can also go online HERE to vote for the Visitors’ Choice award which is sponsored by Rathbones and is worth £2,020. The closing date for voting is May 3.

Kathryn Maple's The Common which is the winner of this year's John Moores Painting Prize

Maple was born in Canterbury in 1989 and studied at the University of Brighton and the Royal Drawing School in London. She previously exhibited at the John Moores in 2018.

Her giant work in acrylic on canvas is described as evoking the quiet moments of urban mundanity, where observed and imagined worlds cross paths. It was inspired in part by a trip to Japan as well as her Lewisham surroundings.

Michelle Williams Gamaker, one of the five prize jurors, said: “Kathryn Maple's The Common struck a chord during the judging process, perhaps because it depicts the very thing we’re currently unable to share: the painting resonates with movement and communality, and embodies the deeply social nature of humans.

“I loved how Kathryn paints a combination of a remembered and imagined scene of reciprocity in tandem with a verdant landscape, it fills me with hope and longing to be part of this form of connection again.”

Speaking about being shortlisted, Maple said: "You always hope that some one is going to have seen something in your work. It's a really big boost to come into this year with something really positive."

And on her win she added: "I went really cold and shivery...I'm so happy just to be in the show, but this is mad!"

Above and top: The John Moores Painting Prize exhibtion. Photos by Robin Clewley.

The John Moores Painting Prize was instigated in 1957 by Sir John Moores the co-founder of the Littlewoods empire and a keen amateur painter himself. Moores wanted to do something to level the playing field between the dominant London art scene and the rest of the country.

The biennial prize is open to all artists working with paint, who are aged 18 years or over and live or are professionally based in the UK.

Past prize winners include David Hockney (1967), Mary Martin (1969), Lisa Milroy (1989), Peter Doig (1993), Keith Coventry (2010) and Rose Wylie (2014).

Sir Peter Blake, winner of the junior prize in 1961, is patron.

The John Moores Painting Prize exhibition runs at the Walker Art Gallery until June 27. More including a virtual tour HERE

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