Prize success is a big break for artists
OPEN 24 – ATTENBOROUGH PRIZE WINNERS: Although the respective works they entered for OPEN 24 are in completely different media there are many similarities in the nature of this year's award winners.
Bryan Hible's Happy Hoodie Spots a Ship in acrylic, resembles a photograph due to his mastery of realism. while Mark W Russell's photograph Spotlite, Journey from Calvary reminds us of the dark nature of Peter Paul Rubens' intricate oil paintings.
Bryan started painting as a hobby, while Mark always drew for pleasure and recently started taking photographs. One thing they have in common is their passion for creating art.
Bryan said: "Having painted on and off since childhood (my interest originally sparked by the 1970s TV show Paint Along with Nancy) my desire to paint fizzled out as I concentrated on work and bringing up my family.
"However, I developed a renewed interest a few years ago when I decided to produce a painting as a birthday present for a friend, after which I began to get requests from my family, friends and colleagues.
"People would tell me I should be painting for a living and, when I was made redundant for a third time, I decided it was my last chance to give it a go.
"I knew that, having no formal qualifications, it wouldn't be easy to establish myself in the art world but I was determined to give it my best shot.
"After approaching a few galleries and publishers with my early work and getting the inevitable rejections, I slowly began to get work into open exhibitions and was eventually contacted and offered representation."
Mark's experience is similar. He studied Fine Art at Sheffield, mostly focusing on sculpture and performing arts.
He says that back in the 1970s there was really no discussion at university level as to how a young artist should market works; he had to try and make it by himself.
He explains that there was praise and accolades for his work but no one was buying it. Even though he has just won the Attenborough Prize, he says he doesn't see himself as a photographer but an artist who just happens to be using a camera to produce an image.
"Composition and context are very important to me. My photography is not just about looking through the lens but above and beyond it."
Both winners are now looking to the future.
As a "frantic camera collector" Mark's next ambition is to put on a one-man photography exhibition, while Bryan, "a lover of acrylic paint", wishes to continue his still-life series Life's a Game, which consists of close-up views of board games depicting aspects of human life in symbolic form.
– Hande Eagle
OPEN 24 will be on display at the New Walk Museum and Art Gallery, Leicester, until April 7.