Tenth time lucky for artist announced as winner of painting prize

An artist who was inspired by the light in a motorcycle dealership has won a painting prize on the tenth time of entering.

Graham Crowley was named the winner of the John Moores Painting Prize by the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool on Thursday, 47 years after he first entered the competition.

His work Light Industry, inspired by his visit to a motorcycle dealership, won him the £25,000 prize for the first time, although he has been shortlisted twice before and served on the jury for the prize in 2008.

He said: “The John Moores Painting Prize is 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.

“Exhibiting as part of the prize in the past has played a significant part in establishing my reputation as a painter.

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

“The prize has an authoritative history of post-war painting in the UK, and its credibility and longevity are testament to the anonymous judging process. I am thrilled to be the first prize winner this year.”

Crowley painted the work after visiting the motorcycle dealer in Framlingham, Suffolk, which he described as part workshop and part counter-cultural museum.

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

Jurors for this year’s prize included The White Pube, the collaborative identity of writers Gabrielle de la Puente and Zarina Muhammad.

They said: “Graham Crowley’s painting is a rugged use of paint that manages to make a rugged scene absolutely glow; 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.”

A record 3,357 paintings were entered for this year’s prize and were whittled down to a shortlist of five, including Social Murder: Grenfell In Three Parts by Nicholas Baldion, which tells the story of what happened before and after the 2017 fire.

Seventy of the artworks will be on display in the  John Moores Painting Prize 2023 exhibition at the Walker Art Gallery from September 16 until February 25 next year.