BVAF Art Competition 2022 - The Winner is...Jacob Gourley!
17 Aug 2022

We're delighted to announce the winner of the BVAF Art Competition 2022 and reveal Jacob Gourley's winning entry (pictured here, cropped ,and below in full) - 'Lotus' (part II) which will be displayed in the window of The Soden Collection on Wyle Cop from September 16 - 18. 

The winner of the 2022 Belle Vue Arts Festival art competition is Jacob Gourley - the judges were almost unanimous in awarding first prize to the young portrait painter from Nesscliffe. 

Jacob, 27 moved to Shropshire a year ago and is a superbly talented oil and acrylic figurative painter - his winning entry ‘Lotus’ (part II), oil on board, will take centre stage in the Soden Collections window from 16th to 18th September.

The other part of Jacob’s prize is to have his artwork featured on the front cover of My Shrewsbury magazine in a future issue, together with a profile interview - so you’ll get to find out much more about him. 

Jacob (pictured below) said he was ‘hugely honoured and delighted’ to win! "I’m lost for words. It’s nice to be properly welcomed onto the Shropshire Arts scene and given some wonderful recognition for my work,” he said.

Artist Jacob Gourley

His winning entry ‘Lotus (part II)’, which is part of a series depicting his girlfriend Sally, in different poses, in the bathroom. Together, the works form a ‘surreal narrative’, with the title 'Lotus' evoking connotations of rebirth, purity, strength and resilience. 

“I wanted to make the space surreal and somewhat ambiguous, incorporating reflections to exaggerate this quality," the artist revealed. “There’s a suggestion of a strange, other-wordly narrative to them. I always like the viewer to ask questions, but not necessarily be provided with an obvious answer. It’s more about a feeling that’s hard to pin down. In terms of the colour choice, I wanted to exaggerate the greens and give it that mysterious quality.

“I can’t wait for it to be on display and to share it with people,” Jacob adds. “Hopefully I’ll have many more exhibitions to come in the area. Once I’ve got more of this series of works completed, I would definitely want to showcase it locally.”

Jacob graduated in 2017 from the University of Gloucestershire, where he won scholarship to study at The British School at Rome in 2016. He spent four summers working as a kitchen assistant at the Verrocchio Art Centre in Tuscany - where he was allowed to sit in on workshops and developed his love of plein air painting. 

“It’s a long road to mastery - I’m definitely determined to get my ten thousand hours in,” Jacob says. 

He was previously awarded 1st prize in the Wirral Society of Arts Open exhibition in 2019. Jacob's father is an events photographer and previously attended Shrewsbury School - so creativity and composition runs in the family.

This year’s Belle Vue Arts Festival art competition attracted 46 artists - the quality of work was incredible and the judges had a hard time picking a winner.

The judges included Jonathan Soden (The Soden Collection), Katy Rink (My Shrewsbury Magazine), Jo Aspinall (BVAF), Sue Mann (BVAF), Mike Griffiths (BVAF), artist and sculptor Halima Cassell MBE, Mike Perkins (illustrator at DC Comics) and Joe Whale, aka ‘The Doodle Boy’.

Jo Aspinall, BVAF Judge and Committee Member, said: “The Belle Vue Arts Festival is about art in all its forms, providing platforms to show off talent and support local artists, the art competition certainly attracted some outstanding artists, sculptors, illustrators and designer makers. It was a difficult decision for our judges but we got there...... Jacob’s work is outstanding and sophisticated; he has an incredible technical ability that is very impressive......he is certainly someone to watch and his paintings are on my wish list!”

My Shrewsbury editor Katy Rink said: “Jacob’s talent shone out among some very professional and impressive entries. He has a very persuasive style, with an almost luminous quality to his portraits. I was immediately won over and am tremendously excited to be working with him on a My Shrewsbury magazine front cover for 2023 - we have some terrific ideas, so watch this space!”

Gallery owner Jonathan Soden added: “This is a wonderful competition to be involved in. The BVAF competition now held annually is a great way to support artists in the local community. As each year goes by, it’s nice for last year’s winner to pass the baton on to the next winner. 

“I have really enjoyed looking at each and every entry and I was stunned at the amount of entries we had! Jacob’s piece is a real showstopper and I can’t wait for people to see his work in the window.”

 For more information about the artist and his Shropshire workshops at The Art Shack visit: 


Jacob Gourley 'Lotus (part 1)
Jacob Gourley Lotus part I