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The Essex Open Exhibition

The Essex Open Exhibition - Credit: Archant

The Beecroft Art Gallery in Southend is centre stage for the 56th Essex Open Exhibition, in a celebration of Essex art and creativity. Caroline Foster reports

When described as ‘the largest and most prestigious open art exhibition in Essex’, it’s no wonder artists of all calibres have flocked to be part of this year’s open art event.

Being held for the first year at the Beecroft Art Gallery’s new home (the former Southend Library in Victoria Avenue), the 56th Essex Open Exhibition has seen a record number of entries from lesser known and new artists from across the region. Kevin Marsh, assistant curator for art exhibitions at Southend on Sea Borough Council, attributes the upsurge in entries to the exhibition’s new online entry application process.

‘It was a lot of work for the artists to bring their entries to the gallery for the selection process,’ explains Kevin. ‘Now they can upload their details and images of their work, which I believe has encouraged more artists to apply. This has also attracted a greater variety of work.’

The exhibition is open to any artist, amateur or professional, over the age of 16 and who is either resident or working as an artist in Essex (including the London boroughs formerly part of Essex).

Kevin also thinks raising the profile of the exhibition in this way has further encouraged new sponsors, including categories from Best Work in Exhibition, sponsored by ZeroAbove, to the Most Popular Work in the Exhibition, sponsored by The Royals Shopping Centre.

‘We have on show a variety of mixed mediums of work including oils, acrylics, watercolours, mixed media and photography, but we would like to increase the number of sculptures and 3D works in future exhibitions. We now have the space available to showcase more of these types of works, but we are still looking for quality,’ says Kevin.

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For visitors, the 56th Essex Open Exhibition has something for everyone and for artists who have not exhibited in galleries before, this exhibition is a great place to start.

‘The open exhibition offers an opportunity for great exposure,’ continues Kevin. ‘It’s one of the busiest exhibitions of the year. For visitors, it’s an open topic for debate and somewhere they can talk openly about the work that has been included and chosen.’

Simon Isaac, strategy partner at ZeroAbove and also a keen photographer who has had his work featured in Essex Life magazine, added: ‘The open art exhibition in Essex is a platform for the benefit, encouragement and support of artists. It’s also recognition for those artists working in the region. It brings together the local community and people want to be part of it.’

The 56th Essex Open Exhibition runs until October 10 and visitors should note that the majority of works will be for sale. Visitors are encouraged to visit throughout the summer and marvel at the diversity, creativity and talent that is on display this year and show their support to all of our Essex based artists.