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And the VAO 2017 Winners are…

A heartfelt thank you to everyone who submitted their work for the 2017 Visual Art Open Award, and made the first year of the award a success!

Visitors to the Chester Arts Fair at the Racecourse, from the 17th to the 19th of November last year, were treated to a VAO exhibition room, with the artwork of award finalists on display.

After much discussion by our panel of highly acclaimed and esteemed judges, the overall winner of the competition is Ryota Matsumoto of Tokyo, Japan, with his mixed media on art paper piece titled, ‘Those Who Affirm the Spontaneity of Every Event’.

Ryota is a principal and founder of an award-winning interdisciplinary design office, Ryota Matusomoto Studio. He is an artist, designer, urban planner, and currently serves as an adjunct lecturer of Transart at the University of Plymouth. His urban planning and architecture techniques are visible in his mixed media artwork. In Ryota's own words:

“I’ve studied art at architecture schools…. My graduate study most likely encouraged the initial steps towards integrating traditional and digital media. My art acts as visual commentaries on speculative changes in notions of societies, cultures and ecosystems in the transient nature of shifting topography and geology of the post-human society. My art is a hybrid style of traditional and digital media, acting to redefine our aesthetic perception.”

Ryota was awarded a cash prize of £1,000.00 to support the production of new artwork, a commercial mentoring package, an exclusive solo exhibition in a location of his choosing, and an exhibition slot at the Chester Arts Fair 2019, worth £1,000.

Alongside the overall competition winner, a winner per category was announced during the Chester Arts Fair, each presented with a cash prize of £250.00:

Bradley Phelps from Leicester won judges over in the ‘Illustration’ category with his detailed graphite pencil sketch, ‘Dave – Study I’.

Simone Zewnik from Germany wowed the judges in the ‘Sculpture’ category with her lifelike sculptural sewing work using skin materials, titled, ‘Obstinata’.

Gillian Hyland of London’s evocative artwork stirred the judges. Her art piece, ‘The Author’, won her the ‘Photography’ category prize.

Indie Mae from Falmouth, Cornwall, won the ‘Young Artists Under 24’ category with her vibrant and eye-catching oil on canvas artwork, ‘Theo’. Alongside her category win, Indie was awarded with the ‘People’s Choice Award 2017’, as selected by the public in an online vote.

If you would like to see all of 2017's finalists visit our gallery please click here.

Any artists looking to enter this year’s competition still have the chance to apply!

The deadline for applications is the 28th of February.

Please apply here, fill in our application form and attach images to be considered... Good Luck!

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