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Biggest ever Open exhibition shows off Knowsley’s incredible artists

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Knowsley’s Open Art Exhibition – an annual showcase of visual art created by the talented people of Knowsley – is now open in Kirkby Gallery.

This year’s exhibition is the 18th annual open exhibition and the biggest and best yet, with more than 250 pieces of art on display.

And this year, there’s an exciting new element to the Open – the chance to buy your own original artwork at an auction which takes place when the exhibition comes to an end.

About the Open exhibition

This popular exhibition is now in its 18th year, curating many diverse pieces of work which only need one thing in common – they were created by people who lives, works, volunteers, or studies in Knowsley. The artists are a diverse bunch. There’s even a special Young Artists Open category for under 18s.

The exhibition is a great way for emerging creatives to see their hard work on display. Entrants are given great creative freedom, with there being no restrictions other than that the art must be 2D and mirror-plated.

Cllr Sean Donnelly, Cabinet Member for Health and Social Care, said: “Walking into Kirkby Gallery and seeing the hundreds of incredible pieces on display is quite breathtaking – and even more so when you realise each and every piece was created by somebody with a Knowsley connection.

“The Open is always a real highlight in the calendar and as well as being a real joy to visit, over the years it has helped launch or accelerate the careers of many local artists, some of whom have gone on to have their own exhibitions in Knowsley or elsewhere.”

This year’s Open features an Affordable Art Auction for the very first time

Several of the pieces on show at the Open will go under the hammer for a good cause later this year – aided by celebrity auctioneer, Adam Partridge – who you may recognise from TV shows Bargain Hunt and Cash in the Attic.

With a full wall of artwork to choose from, this is a truly unique opportunity to own some original art that will provide the perfect talking point in your home or office. The pieces are from artists whom you may have admired in previous Open art exhibitions. They could be first time exhibitors or better known names – in fact xx of the pieces have been donated by Willy Russell, the Kirkby born playwright who hosted an exhibition of his paintings at the Kirkby Gallery two years ago.

Better still, the Affordable Art Auction will have something for every price range – and proceeds will go towards the Friends of Kirkby Gallery and Prescot Museum to help run community activities including free courses and events, and to help fund their work with local schools.

Want to take an art piece home? The Open Art Affordable Auction will take place on Thursday 9 May 2019 from 5pm to 8pm at Kirkby Gallery. So come and take home a bargain while supporting a great organisation.

The auction is a closed event so if you want to get on the guest list, simply email your details to Tina Ball by email to tina.ball@knowsley.gov.uk or call 0151 443 4936.

Who will get your visitors’s choice award?

Visitors to the exhibition are invited to vote for their favourite piece, with the most popular artist being awarded the Visitor’s Choice award later in the year. But with more than 250 such diverse and inspiring works on display, you might find choosing just one a little difficult!

See for yourself the incredible talent we have here in Knowsley by visiting the exhibition before Saturday 4 May. Entry is completely free!

This year’s exhibition also features a special tribute to local artist, the late Irene Sumner.

Irene was a self-taught artist who was known and admired by many in Knowsley. She came to painting only in her later years, after retiring from a long career in nursing.

Born in Litherland in 1917, Irene first picked up a paintbrush aged 60 during a course at Newsham Park Adult Centre in 1977 and then carried on painting. In her later years she lived in Whiston.

Irene’s oil paintings reflect her childhood and memories through the years – the selected works shown here include portraits of herself as a child, Sunday School processions and Bonfire Night in Sefton Park, alongside a painting of the Toxteth Riots for which she was interviewed by the BBC and Finnish TV – she even appeared on Top of the Pops after appearing in a video recorded in St John’s Precinct, Liverpool!

Irene’s work was exhibited at The Liverpool Academy of Arts and entered into the John Moore’s exhibition in 1985. Irene also won several local art prizes including first prize in Liverpool’s Garden Festival art competition and the Knowsley Open Art Exhibition at Huyton Gallery for ‘1920s Memory’ in 1993 aged 76, which is why presenting a small selection of her life’s creative output as part of this year’s Open Art is such a fitting tribute.

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