VAO Judges 2020

The VAO appoints members from the contemporary art world to join our expert panel to judge our artist's applications. These members can be artists, writers, art critics, professors, collectors and curators. If you would like to become a VAO judge contact us here

Richard Hopkinson

Richard has a BA degree in the History of Art and is Hon. Deputy Chairman of the Grosvenor Museum Society, the ‘friends’ and fundraising charity for Chester’s Grosvenor Museum.  He has been delighted to meet many artists and, while he does not consider himself “a collector”, his home is filled with pictures. Richard has worked in the picture departments of several auction houses and as an art auctioneer since 1980. His job involves viewing and valuing paintings from around 1600-2000. He started his career in London and Surrey and moved to Chester with his wife and family to be Picture Specialist for Bonhams North West, based in Chester, in 1994.  He considers himself extremely fortunate to have worked with paintings for so many years.

Dr Jeremy Turner

Jeremy is the programme leader and senior lecturer in Fine Art at the University of Chester. He has gained a BA (Hons) in Fine Art from Manchester Polytechnic, an MA from Bretton Hall College and a PhD by practice from the University of Leeds. Jeremy is fascinated and excited by the process of making and the manipulation of materials and objects, he is also interested in industrial development and histories.  

Lisa Edwards

Lisa works at the Grosvenor Estate, where she has managed the Grosvenor fine art collection since 2016. Prior to this, Lisa completed a Master’s Degree in Cultural History at The University of Liverpool in 2012. An aspiring curator, Lisa worked in a variety of roles as a graduate at Tate Liverpool, English Heritage and Canal & River Trust museums and completed a Collections Management traineeship. Lisa has always had a keen interest in art and antiques. In 2007 she participated in the Young Artists in Tuscany programme where she studied the art of the Italian Renaissance in Italy and produced work in a range of media.

Emma Rodgers, MA, Fellowship at

John Moores University Sculptor

Emma Rodgers is one of the most sought after and highly collectable sculptural artists globally, exhibiting worldwide including the prestigious Victoria & Albert Museum Prize, Stricoff Fine Art N.Y., Lineart –Ghent, Cork Street London, Royal Academy of Art,  The Saatchi Gallery, Chicago and New York. Art Paris at the Grande Palais Paris and Singapore. Emma has exhibited and lectured at The Prestigious Isaac Newton Institute,  Cambridge University. Held in several major collections, which include National Museums & Galleries, Mark Carney, and Ellen Degeneres.

Phil Redmond CBE

Phil is well known for creating several popular television series such as Grange HillBrookside and Hollyoaks. He was appointed a CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) in the 2004 Queen's Birthday Honours List for services to drama. In 1989, Phil was awarded the post of Honorary Professor of Media Studies at Liverpool John Moores University, where he is encouraging a new, practically-orientated, media studies course. In November 2010 he was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Chester and Phil is Chair of National Museums Liverpool and of the UK City of Culture Independent Advisory Panel.

Alexis Redmond MBE

Alexis, the wife of Phil Redmond, has spent the past year in the role of the High Sheriff of Cheshire which is is an independent non-political Royal appointment. She received an MBE from the Queen at Buckingham Palace for her services to the community in Merseyside. Alexis is a trustee of the Alder Hey Imagine Appeal, Liverpool John Moores University and National Museums Liverpool.

Laura O’Hare

Director of Chester Arts Fair & Visual Artists Association

Laura is responsible for leading the artistic development at the VAO. Laura has been working in the Fine Arts sector since 2012 and is a co-founder of the awards. Presently, Director of the Visual Artists Association and Chester Arts Fair, Laura has mentored hundreds of artists to thrive at all stages of their fine art careers.

David Kereszteny-Lewis

Artist & Director of Visual Arts at The Grange School

David holds the current position of Director of Visual Arts in Cheshire at the prestigious Grange School. Also a practicing artist, David offers expertise in the technicalities of visual artwork creation.  

Shirley-Ann O’Neill (MA)

Director of Visual Artists Association & Visual Art Open

Shirley-Ann is a co-founder of the VAO awards, which were developed to support emerging artist gain recognition globally. A director of the Visual Artists Association, Shirley-Ann supports artists in evolving their artistic careers commercially by presenting opportunities to exhibit internationally, in addition to gaining representation and commercial partnerships

Previous VAO Judges

Karen van Hoey Smith

Owner of KvH Artbroker and Partner at Tunisan Collaboartive Painting in the UK, Karen has a wealth of experience in the art and antiques business spanning over 20 years she represents UK and International talent. Taking on various roles including valuer, auctioneer and TV consultant expert on BBC Bargain Hunt, a contemporary art dealer in London and Bristol and independent art and antiques broker representing various contemporary artists.

David Klein

After starting his working life in engineering David assisted the sculptor John Jennings and realised his passion for sculpting. From there he undertook a Fine Arts degree at Staffordshire University. He then continued his studies with a postgraduate course in figurative sculpture at Frink School of Sculpture. Davids core belief is that form is the beating heart of sculpture. 

Wendy Connelly

Wendy graduated from Central St. Martins and in 1991 was given an honorary membership to the Chelsea Arts Club. Her work has been represented by major galleries both nationally and internationally including Barnard Jacobson Gallery in London and recently Lakeside Gallery, Michigan, USA. Wendy is passionate about paint as a medium and explores pushing it to its raw qualities. She also runs art tuition workshops to inspire children through art.

Frances Ackland-Snow

Frances completed a Fine Art Foundation Course at Oxford before specialising in painting at Brighton University where she achieved a first class degree in Fine Art Painting. She became a scenic painter with the BBC. Frances went on to develop her career as a fine artist and has since enjoyed great commercial and critical success. Her work is widely exhibited across the UK and Europe and her paintings are in private collections around the world.

Barry Davies

Intrinsically artistic and previously trained as a precision engineer, Barry started up a small business in 1989 as a cabinet maker. The carving rapidly developed to sculpture and realizing the need to extend his knowledge of the traditions of sculpture, he studied Art History with the Open University. Barry’s passion for anthropology, palaeontology and anatomical study has led him to not only create bronze sculptures but also tutoring classes in clay modelling of these subjects. Since 2010 Barry has exhibited his sculptures in the UK and Europe including Chester Arts Fair,  Chelsea London, Uffizi gallery, Florence, Bramante Halls, Rome, Flagini Palace, Venice, Verona and Barcelona.

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