The Spirit of Malvern En Plein Air Painting Competition to Return in 2025 After Success

Activities | Festival | The Arts | What's On

A painting of the Malvern Hills

The Spirit of Malvern, an outdoor art competition, is the latest creative idea to come out of Creatives Connect Malvern and is a sign of a surge in local community interest in the arts, attracting prize money of £2100 and a chance for today’s artists to add their mark to the area’s creative legacy.

‘The Spirit of Malvern’ Open Air painting competition – which was held on Bank Holiday Monday, 6 May – saw ticketed artists set out into the town and hills to seek inspiration. The works of art they created were displayed in a ‘pop-up’ public exhibition in the Circle Bar at Malvern Theatres.  A panel of judges, including Sky Arts Landscape Artist of the Year, Tom Voyce and local artists, Brian Gorst (painter, teacher, writer) and Maureen Gamble (artist, printer, lecturer, writer) awarded first prize of £1000.00, second prize of £350.00, a ‘local artist only’ award of £450.00 and £100.00 Best Landscape, Urban and Wildcard awards. Four paintings were also highly commended.  The atmosphere at the Pop-up exhibition was electric with over 400 visitors coming through the doors to see the amazing art-work on display.

Watch What Happened:

YouTube video

The painting event is conceived and organised by the network Malvern Creatives Connect (MCC), founded in 2023 by local dramatist and theatre director Kirsty Cubberley as a focal point for artists of all genres to generate ideas, stimulate events and encourage participation.

“The very nature of the Malverns has always attracted creative people, inspiring greats such as authors C S Lewis and Tolkein, composer Edward Elgar and artist Dame Laura Knight,” says Cubberley.

“Today, we are seeing a groundswell of energy to build on this artistic legacy, and to ensure that the historic association between Malvern and the Arts is revived and refreshed. At MCC, we are harnessing that energy and ambition, supporting our local creatives, and encouraging participation.”

The MCC network already includes more than 130 members, who meet regularly, share ideas and information, and support one another. Their first public events at the end of last year included an Open Day at the OCC in Malvern, an Exhibition in Christ Church on Avenue Road and collaboration with Malvern Hills District Council and the Traders Association where members decorated a Narnia Lantern Trail at Christmastime.

The ‘Spirit of Malvern’ competition is their most ambitious event yet. It was inspired by an exhibition of Worcestershire paintings by the celebrated twentieth century artist, Dame Laura Knight at the Worcester City Art Gallery and Museum. Laura Knight – the first female artist to be awarded full membership of the Royal Academy – loved the Malverns, and often came here to paint “en plein air”. “Our competition appeals to contemporary artists, who, like Laura Knight, found inspiration in our town, its people and the beautiful surrounding countryside,” says Cubberley.

Creatives Connect Malvern volunteers worked with a mix of local sponsors to realise this event; the Three Counties Historical Art Society, Malvern Hills District Council, Lucart Hygiene, Worcester Ambassadors, The Dame Laura Knight Society and The Mount Pleasant Hotel which fittingly is where the competition will begin as this was where Laura Knight stayed whilst in Malvern.

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