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Record number of visitors drawn to Ellesmere National Art Exhibition
23 Jun 2019
by Rebecca Dutton

An annual national Art Exhibition at Ellesmere College has been hailed the best yet after a record number of people visited the event featuring more than 300 works of art from 70 acclaimed artists and sculptors.

Now in its eighth year, more than 1,000 visitors were welcomed to the four-day exhibition, which included work by War Horse set designer Rae Smith, while more pieces were purchased than ever before.

Nick Pettingale, Director of External Relations at Ellesmere College, said: “The exhibition has become a well-established event in the art calendar.

“We are delighted with how popular it has proved to be again this year as we aim to provide a showcase to profile both local and national artistic talent in the region and there was something for every taste and budget.

“We are now looking forward and are very excited about next year’s event being bigger and better than ever before.”

The exhibition ran from 30 May to 2 June, with a VIP Preview Evening on 29 May which gave more than 300 dignitaries and art lovers the chance to chat to the artists.

On display throughout the exhibition were a range of paintings, drawings and ceramics from notable artists including John Alford, Jane Brookshaw, Barbara Goolden, Graham Cox, Rebecca Pells, Mark Warner and members of the Royal Cambrian Academy. In addition, a selection of sculptures from artists including Luke Kite were generously provided by the British Ironwork Centre.

Olivier, Tony and OBIE award-winning British designer Rae was this year’s feature artist. The exhibition included a selection of Rae’s sketches used on the National Theatre stage show sets of Michael Morpurgo’s War Horse – one of the most successful theatre productions of all time, seen by more than 11 million people worldwide.

The backdrop to the remarkable puppet horses are said to be drawings from Captain Nicholls’ sketchbook in the story. However, they are in fact sketches of parts of Ellesmere, captured by Rae, who grew up in the area.

Rae officially opened the exhibition alongside patron Carolyn Trevor-Jones, Area Chair of West Midlands NADFAS (the National Association of Decorative and Fine Arts Societies), and Brendan Wignall, Headmaster of Ellesmere College.

Visitors were also encouraged to vote for the ‘People’s Favourite’ piece of art or sculpture at the exhibition with the artist with the most votes winning £100. This year’s winner was Maximillian Baccanello with ‘Zorba’ – a detailed study of a gentleman in a flat cap in oils on canvas.

The exhibition was also the perfect showcase for work by local primary school children involved in the Ellesmere College Young Artist outreach scheme. Four local primary schools took part – Whittington, Criftins, Gobowen and Cockshutt – along with Year 5 pupils from Ellesmere College who built designs and sculptures around the theme of ‘Learning, Imagination and their Future Self’.

For more information on the exhibition and Ellesmere College please go to: www.ellesmere.com.