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Oil painting of umbrella shop wins prestigious prize

05th February 2016

An oil painting depicting the workshop at the oldest umbrella shop in Europe has claimed the Columbia Threadneedle prize.

The competition was created in 2008 to breath life into the figurative art scene, which was deemed to be a genre in danger of seeing its relevance fade away in the face of strength of abstract, conceptual and performance art.

Like a documentary

This year's winner - Salt in Tea by Lewis Hazelwood-Horner - was painted when the artist took residence at James Smith & Sons umbrella shop in the West End of London.

This painting shows the craftsmen at work in their workshop, with the title linking to when the craftsmen jokingly put salt in one another’s tea.

The piece emerged top out of 3,828 entries submitted by 1,973 artists from 29 countries.

On its way to winning the top prize, it managed to raise plenty of eyebrows on the judging panel, including Tim Knox, director of the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge and a member of the judging panel, who praised it for containing an "enticing documentary quality".

He said: “This large and confident painting depicts real people with knotty hands and stubbly muzzles immersed in a timeless, archaic trade which hasn’t changed for hundreds of years. This very accomplished painting showcases grandeur, confidence, wit and gritty realism which truly impressed the judges.”

Strong pool of contenders

Fellow judge and director of Mall Galleries, Lewis McNaught, added: “Visitors will be delighted by the strength and breadth of this year’s selection.

"The winning painting stood out for the scale of its ambition, while there are other works in the exhibition that push the boundaries of figurative and representational art into new territory.  

"Support for this Prize from artists in the UK and across Europe just gets bigger as submissions get more ambitious.”

Other judges on the panel included Lucian Freud’s assistant, David Dawson, journalist Emma Crichton-Miller, director general of Palazzo Strozzi in Florence Arturo Galansino.

The winner was announced at a gala held at the Mall Galleries, London on February 2nd.

Salt in Tea was joined on the shortlist by a number of strong entries, including Summer Solstice by Peter Clossick, Winston Field by Nicholas Holmes, El Mameluco (After the Battle) by J. Carlos Naranjo, Shells by Laura Smith, and Sheep with their lambus by Chris Thomas.

The winning entry will now take its place alongside 93 other works at the Columbia Threadneedle prize exhibition at the Mall Galleries which will be open to the public until February 20th.

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