Inspired by the Canal Art competition

The Oxford Canal Heritage art competition ‘Inspired by the Canal’ attracted over 70 entries from retired people to children in Oxfordshire schools, from older people including those with dementia attending day centres to children at a Town Hall family Canal Art Day and from experienced artists to those gaining confidence at  Crisis Skylight. Paintings, sketches, textiles, collages, pottery, photographs and models were submitted by children and adults aged from 4 to 79 years old! Perhaps not surprisingly, the residential narrow boats were what inspired most of the competition entrants about the canal.

The judging panel included Hilary Fletcher of ECCO shoes Oxford, Vital Peeters, sculptor and stained glass maker, artists Wendy Skinner Smith (OAS) and Katherine Shock all exhibiting in Oxfordshire Art weeks. Bruce Heagerty, canal boater and author, joined Maria Parsons, Project Manager of the Oxford Canal Heritage and Pete Ledwith former architect and project volunteer in the hard work. As the photo shows the judges were not always in agreement about winners!

However finally decisions were made as follows:

In the under 12 age category, the ECCO shoe boxes competition, 42 boats ‘sailed’ into a north Oxford kitchen for judging. The prize for the most imaginative narrow boat went to Fran Giles (8) of Wolvercote School for her jolly and colourful craft complete with a solar panels on the roof and Maisie Croft and Theodore Colbert (9) of St Barnabas School, Oxford with their ochre and purple boat ‘the Anaconda’ and  the stylish furniture under a lift up roof! All three win a pair of ECCO sandals.

Second prize went to Vita (6) of Phil and Jim School whose craft flew an ECCO tissue flag and the splendid Waverider by Mathew Mason and Megan Tadesse (9) Third prize was awarded to Samuel Colman of Great Milton (7) for a beautiful green boat complete with window boxes and kindling on the roof and to Kobe Whitaker, Lenn Marshall Madams and Owen Hong (9) of St Barnabas School, who made a rather fierce black and red boat called Angry Banana.

The judges commended the Cutteslowe Family Centre After School Art Club for the interior designs of their boats. Helen Edwards, the club leader, is to be congratulated for finally getting some entries delivered as previous groups of children insisted on taking their creations home! ECCO will send the club chocolates for all.

The winning boats

In the under 22 category, all 8 entrants were under 16. Olivia Brookes (14) of Henry Box School Witney took first prize with her study of the Oxford Canal from the towpath approaching Aristotle Bridge which the judges felt was deftly painted in a way that pays homage to this very old brick bridge dating from 1841. The new flat complex, built on the site of the former Lucy Ironworks factory, is just visible. Rather fittingly Olivia won £50 first prize donated by Lucy’s! Second prize went to Kitty Surrage (13) from Kidlington for a canal decorated cotton tote bag (a great project marketing idea) whilst Bea Myers’ multi coloured fish sketch took the third prize.

Oxford canal by Olivia Brooks

The adults section of the competition attracted 15 high quality entries. The panel found themselves debating the merits of three very different pieces. Finally they agreed to award Fran Monks of Oxford first prize for her beautiful black and white photograph of a man playing his guitar in his cabin on board a boat on Oxford Canal. Fran’s prize is a pair of shoes donated by ECCO Oxford. Jane Rouse took second prize. Inspired by the boat she lives, her cleverly crafted and quirky hand knitted creation made the judges smile. Nicola Cavalla of Kidlington was awarded third prize for a beautifully lit oil painting of the Oxford canal that captures its stillness and timelessness. Judges highly commended Sarah Maidment for her imaginative painting of her towpath bicycle ride, Mark Nash for his extraordinary photograph of a heron on the canal and Eloise Coyle for her photograph taken through a chiffon curtained porthole on her boat.

First Prize: Fran Monks for Canal Dweller

In the category for people aged 63 and over, it must be noted that a large number of people entering the competition were well in their 70s.

Of the 10 entries, the judges unanimously awarded Clare Owen first prize for her ‘canal ceramic’, a masterpiece of clay modelling. This large handsome vase is decorated with two canal boats in relief that encircle the pot. Sailing under a bridge: one loaded with coal, the other a house boat; they endlessly sail against a painterly background of water, trees and wildlife. Clare wins a pair of ECCO shoes.

Clare Owen: Canal ceramic

Richard Patterson was awarded second prize for his evocative photograph of the Isis Bridge in winter. David Paylor’s page of colourful and well executed watercolour sketches of several places associated with the Oxford Canal earned him third prize. The entries of the Bicester Health and Well Being Centre for older people and those with disabilities and the Limes and the Lilacs clubs for older people living with a dementia, delighted the judges and chocolates from ECCO are on their way to share with thanks to the activities organisers and managers who seized the opportunity the competition provided to work artfully with group of those attending.

All the first prize winners of Oxford Canal Art competition were presented with their prizes at the launch of Oxfordshire Artweeks by David Pollock, the Chair of Oxfordshire Artweeks at the Private View of the exhibition on April 1st 2014 at the Jam Factory Oxford.

The exhibition ran from Wednesday 2nd to Sunday 27th April 2014 at the Jam Factory, a restaurant, arts centre and bar near Oxford Station opposite the Said Business School. Five minutes from Oxford Canal, it was the ideal location for the Inspired by the Canal Exhibition.  A lovely place to eat and drink, that regularly  hosts art exhibitions, art classes and talks.

All the first prize winning art is being exhibited in the Old Fire Station until Saturday 3rd May, 2014, together with a selection of other entries. Click here to see the gallery showing a selection of entries recieved and click here for the ECCO gallery of shoe box narrow boat making and a wonderful line of boats. The boats can be viewed in St Barnabas Church Jericho during Oxford City Artweeks 17th to 26th May, 2014. Further details from http://www.artweeks/org/.