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Portrait wins top prize at Leicester’s Open exhibition

A portrait that shows a characterful male face in profile has won the top prize at Leicester’s annual Open exhibition.

Ken Tye: A Portrait by artist Pete Underhill was awarded the £1,000 Attenborough Prize at a ceremony at Leicester Museum & Art Gallery.

The portrait – painted in oil on illustration board – was chosen as the overall winner from nearly 1,000 paintings, sculptures, textiles, prints and photographs that were submitted to the competition.

Leicester Time: Portrait wins top prize at Leicester's Open exhibition

Deputy city mayor for culture Cllr Adam Clarke, who presented the artist with his prize, said: “The standard of work submitted this year was exceptional, but Pete Underhill’s extraordinarily detailed portrait was a worthy winner of the Attenborough Prize.

“Visitors will be able to see the portrait for themselves, and enjoy all the other great works created by local artists, in the fabulous surroundings of Leicester Museum & Art Gallery until January.”

Pete Underhill is the first artist to have been awarded the Attenborough Prize twice, having previously won it in 2019.

The subject for his winning portrait this year was a man he met at a classic car show in Leicestershire – an ex-miner and retired bus driver called Ken Tye.

“When I explained to Ken that I paint portraits of people I find interesting and that he had a fabulous face, he patiently allowed me to gather my reference to enable me to complete this work,” said Pete.

“As a member of the Leicester Society of Artists, I regularly submit work to the Leicester Open but I was more than shocked to be awarded the Attenborough Prize for the second time.”

Attenborough Prizes were also awarded in the children and young people category. Ellena Wardle’s self-portrait won her top place in the 16-18 years’ category, Olivia Van Der Ende’s piece, Trauma, won the 11-15 category, while Ava Green-Varnham scooped the prize for 5-10 year-olds with her interpretation of Wednesday.

Open: The People’s Exhibition features works by local people – from complete beginners to seasoned professionals – that have been selected by a panel of independent judges.

All the works on display have been created by artists aged 19 and over who live or study in Leicester, Leicestershire, Rutland, Derbyshire, Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire or Northamptonshire.

Work by young artists aged five to 18 is also on display.  

Many of the artworks on display are available to buy, with prices starting at £50, and purchased pieces can be collected from the museum after Sunday 21 January.

The Open exhibition at Leicester Museum & Art Gallery continues until Friday 19 January.