Would-be entrants were given a nature-related brief to tie in with the Isle of Wight Natural History & Archaeological Society celebrating its centenary this month.
Entries were judged by Ian Whitmore, Caroline ‘Caz’ Underwood (the 2017 Open Winner), Claire Hector and Jo Bingham.
Works from a total of 39 artists were chosen to form the basic exhibition with each person mounting 1 or 2 items. These selected contemporary artworks consisted of a broad subject matter including sea, land, flora and fauna. They evolved around personal responses to specific places, objects and organisms as well as abstractions inspired by or concerned with nature.
For their part, the IWNHAS provided historical specimens and paraphernalia linked to the recording of nature.
In a second round of judging a shortlist of 4 entrants was drawn up. For the final deliberations Georgia Newman, de facto Visual Arts Manager joined Ian Whitmore, Caroline Underwood and Claire Hector. After some hours of deliberation, Rachel Johnston from Portsmouth, who has a studio in Southsea, was chosen as this year’s Open winner.
Rachel’s prize is to mount a solo exhibition in the West Gallery in some 15-18 months- time. Her winning entry entitled River Gloves: Eden/Eastney 2019 consists of wool and other yarns woven with wire plus photographic prints depicting the gloves in use.
Black gloves with extended textile ‘fingers’ were worn by Rachel in the sea at Eastney and in the fast-flowing River Eden in Cumbria. With her Father originally coming from Cumbria and her Mother now living there near the River Eden, which rises in the Pennines, Rachel said that she felt connected with this area. When worn the gloves become shaped by the flow of the water and the separate strands of wool and other fibres gather in the silt, sand and small stones making the wearer more connected with the water flow in the sea or river- bed.
Rachel said that she also felt connected with the Quay Arts building having originally visited the gallery some eighteen years ago. As a student she studied both fine art and textiles and has an affinity with tapestry and natural fibres.
This exhibition the Quay Arts biennial OPEN titled and themed ‘A Life in Nature‘ continues until 1st February 2020.