Pill artist Owain Hunt nominated for national prize.

Man in Blue by Owain Hunt

Man in Blue by Owain Hunt - Credit: Archant

An artist from Pill has had his work nominated for a national prize.

Owain Hunt’s Man in Blue was named as one of 30 finalists for the £10,000 national art Castlegate Prize.

The competition was launched by Castlegate House Gallery in Cumbria last year, with all the entry fees going to mental health charity YoungMinds.

More than 700 entries were received by the Cockermouth-based gallery from all over the country for the competition, raising more than £12,000 for the charity.

Owain said: “It’s great to be nominated – the prize is hosted by Castlegate House Gallery, who specialise in internationally renowned artists such as Grayson Perry and Frank Auerbach, so being nominated is the biggest critical affirmation of my work to date.

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“Man in Blue is a picture of my brother, who sat for the portrait during a time of personal difficulty.

“Coming out of university, it was started and completed on the eve of the sitter’s move to Canada.

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“I included a self-portrait over the shoulder of my brother to add intrigue to the piece and act as an exit for the viewer’s eye but also perhaps as a reassuring presence.

“The piece encounters themes of mental health, vulnerability and soul searching, as well as the hope that openness and a strong support network can aid the struggle.”

Castlegate Gallery’s Steve Swallow added: “We’re thrilled to have chosen the final 30.

“To get there from the nearly 700 entries was a very difficult task at times, such was the quality of work submitted.

“The final 30 represent a very broad spectrum right across the UK, with ages from 17 to 78.

“There are many standout pieces, but every one could be a winner – the quality and ingenuity of ideas is that impressive.

“Getting to a winner, with all five judges agreeing, is going to be a very tough task, indeed.”

The inaugural exhibition of finalists’ works at Castlegate House, in Cumbria, and the announcement of the first Castlegate Prize winner have now been postponed from May 2 to September 12 as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Meanwhile, all the finalists’ work can be viewed on the prize website thecastlegateprize.co.uk.

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