Wigan artists’ shortlist delight

Steven Heaton and Jane Fairhurst. The name of the third finalist for the GM Arts Prize has not been revealed
Steven Heaton and Jane Fairhurst. The name of the third finalist for the GM Arts Prize has not been revealed

A trio of artists from the borough are in the running for a prestigious cultural prize run by the region’s business bosses.

Three talented creatives from Wigan have been shortlisted in the GM Arts Prize, which is run by the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce.

Orrell artist Jane Fairhurst has had four paintings, which are based on her work with textiles and fabrics, chosen while Steven Heaton, who is also a member of Cross Street Arts in Standish, impressed the judges with one of his abstract canvases.

A third local artist is also in the running, but their identity has not been revealed publicly.

The GM Arts Prize was created in 2016 and the artists selected for the shortlist said being chosen was a major achievement.

Jane said: “It feels like a privilege to be shortlisted. An awful lot of people enter so it’s quite a prestigious exhibition to be in.

“It’s really nice to have all four of my submitted paintings chosen. They are paintings of fabrics with buttons and embroidery on them, and they are in the style of Dutch flower paitings with dark backgrounds.

“I was shortlisted in the first year but not the past two years, so I’m really pleased to be in again this time.”

Steven said: “It’s quite wonderful to be shortlisted.

“I’ve been aware of this prize for a few years and this is the first time I’ve made it to this stage, so it’s really exciting for me.

“The work I put forward is part of a new body of work I’m doing collaborating with art historian Sara Riccardi, who is from Rome but now works over here.

“It’s about the start of our project, it’s like a painting of a memory.”

A total of 50 pieces of work from across Greater Manchester have been shortlisted by the judging panel, following a record number of entries.

The winner and three runners-up will be announced early next month, with the prizes including cash and vouchers.

The overall winner will also get a residency in partnership with the University of Bolton’s School of the Arts.

The prize exhibition, which opened at the weekend, is at Bolton Museum and Art Gallery until Friday, July 5. There will also be a VIP opening event the night before it is unveiled to the region’s arts fans.

Joy Sewart, director of skills policy and social enterprise at Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, said: “Our aim with the GM Arts Prize is to find and build the careers of artists and help develop artistic talent across the region.

“There is a wealth of talent and our job at the Chamber is to provide a platform to showcase and celebrate the work of our contemporary visual artists.

“We’re delighted to announce this year’s shortlist and look forward to revealing the winner.”

Find out more about the prize at www.gmartsprize.co.uk