Arts Derbyshire


Winners announced in Level’s Public Open Exhibition

LEVEL Centre are delighted to announce the winners of their Public Open Exhibition for 2023. The call out earlier this year attracted contemporary visual artists from across the UK, with selected pieces being shortlisted by a panel of industry professionals to be part of a public exhibition both online and at Level Centre in Rowsley.

This year’s exhibition is sponsored by Peak Village in Rowsley who announced Level as their charity of the year for 2023 and Turners Art Supplies who are sponsoring the Public Choice Award.


The standard of submissions was extraordinary, showcasing a broad range of art styles and techniques. The panel selected their favourite two pieces to win first and second prize in the adult category alongside winners in both the 7-11 and 12-17 age groups.


First place was awarded to Grace Currie for their work ‘Which Way Up’. A catastrophic accident in 2010 resulted in a severe brain injury which left Grace with interrelating disabilities and her own unique and neurodivergent view of the world. She shares this view through her practice, working in the medium of paint, clay, video, and performance.


Grace said:


Winning first prize made me feel really happy and I want to inspire other people to follow their dreams. Don’t let anything get you down. This was a painting created as part of a series ‘When My Right Side Won’t Listen’, paintings that explored life living with right sided neglect. It can be disorientating when my body doesn’t listen to my brain. It can make me feel confused, topsy turvy, upside down, I don’t know which way is up. My right leg doesn’t exist in the painting – I can’t feel my right leg and it is like it is not there. It hasn’t always been this way.”


Panellist Amelia from the Arthouse in Wakefield said: 


“Out of many fantastic submissions, we were all unanimous in our selection for first prize. Grace Curries’ entry, ‘Which Way Up’ depicts two women, one upside down and both with their right legs missing. Her powerful paintings explore her social identity – and how, as a disabled woman, society reduces her in some people’s eyes to child status. This is an identity that she resists but draws attention to in her childlike portraits of figures or faces. The compelling narrative behind the piece and the artist’s sheer determination and talent earned them our first prize place. Congratulations Grace!”


Second place was awarded to Martine Daneele Coello for their work ‘Suzie’. The picture illustrates Martine’s cat Suzie, a cat Martine often paints or draws in a consistent style. Suzie has her own identity, she is pink with green eyes, black whiskers and a beguiling expression. She is a Mona Lisa cat! When asked about her art work and its success Martine gave a very big smile. Expressing herself through painting and drawing is very important to her and it will be great to see other people enjoying seeing her special pink cat Suzie.


Industry panellist and Chesterfield artist Bella Milroy said:


“Martine’s painting is simply a joy, and it was a delight to discover it as part of the Open Exhibition this year. We loved how playful and expressive it is, with fantastic colour combinations and wonderful mark-making that captures the love of a much cherished family cat. I’m so pleased to have Martine’s work featured in the show and award this artwork a much deserved prize.”


The panellists were equally impressed with the quality of submissions in the two Under 18 categories, and it was difficult to choose the two winners. After much deliberation, the two under 18 categories were won by Nico Valdez (12-17) for their Self Portrait and Azalea Wragg (7-11) for ‘Mountains’.


The prizewinners might have been decided, but the public can still vote for their favourite piece in The Public Choice Award. You can vote by visiting the exhibition in person at Level Centre in Rowsley or online through the Level Centre website:


The Public Open Exhibition is at Level Centre, Old Station Close, Rowsley until 1 September.



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