Announcement of seventh winner of Derbyshire’s prestigious art prize

Thursday, 20th October 2016

The huge grin on Eleanor Watson’s face says it all. She just can’t hide her delight that she is about to move into a new studio at Banks Mill in Derby as the winner of the Jonathan Vickers Fine Art Award.

Foundation Derbyshire has announced the winner of the seventh Jonathan Vickers Fine Art Award, one of the largest art awards in the country.  Artist Eleanor Watson will take up her residency in Derby in October 2016, when she will be based in Banks Mill.

The biennial Award brings a rising artist to Derbyshire to produce work inspired by the county’s landscape, heritage and people.  The continuing theme of the Award is ‘Sense of Place’, inspired by the people, landscape and heritage of Derbyshire.  For the seventh Award there will be a particular focus on ‘The Changing Faces of Derbyshire’.

Eleanor, who comes from Surrey, has recently completed the Drawing Year at the Royal Drawing School and graduated from Wimbledon College of Art in 2012 with a First Class Honours BA in Painting. Eleanor has previously exhibited in London, Miami and New York.

The Award will be launched in October at Melbourne Hall in Derbyshire in order to introduce Eleanor at the start of her residency.

Eleanor said: “I am thoroughly thrilled and excited to be the seventh winner of the prestigious Jonathan Vickers Art Award. It is a real privilege to spend so much time developing a body of work and on top of that to be based in beautiful Derbyshire. I can’t wait to get started and get to know the county better.”

The Award is open to emerging painters from across the UK with the successful artist receiving a nine month residency, a bursary of £18,000, a studio, a contribution to the cost of materials and on-going support, mentoring from the University of Derby’s College of Arts and an exhibition at Derby Museums. It is fast becoming one of the most coveted, prestigious and nationally recognised Art Awards in the UK.

Jonathan Wallis, Head of Museums at Derby Museums said: “At Derby Museums, we are thrilled to be working with Eleanor this year, it is always great to support a new emerging artist. As well as her residency at Banks Mill, we’re excited to welcome Eleanor into the museum galleries and stores as an extension of her studio and we’re looking forward to seeing her work develop into an exhibition over the next year.”

During her residency, Eleanor will produce a portfolio of new work for solo exhibitions at Derby Museum and Art Gallery and at the University of Derby.  She will contribute to  teaching within the University of Derby’s College of Arts and lead a series of  workshops in the community, supported by funding from Rolls-Royce plc. Collaboration with the University of Derby’s College of Arts will enable art students to gain valuable insight from the experience and practices of a working artist.

David McGravie, Head of Art and Design at the University of Derby, said: “We are very pleased to support the Jonathan Vickers Fine Art award. The Jonathan Vickers Fine Art award makes a very important statement of the strong connection between art and Derbyshire and its broader community. The awards legacy is crucial to supporting new and upcoming artists and as the leading provider of arts in the region, we look forward to welcoming Eleanor into our art school here at the University of Derby.”

Previous winners of the Award have included Kerri Pratt (2014/15), Bartholomew Beal (2012/13), Natalie Dowse (2007/08), Helena Ben Zenou (2005/06), Kerry Harker (2003/04) and Lewis Noble (2001/2).

Rachael Grime, Chief Executive of Foundation Derbyshire said: “The Award continues to go from strength to strength and the appointment of Eleanor Watson signals an exciting new chapter in its development. Each artist has brought something new and surprising to the Award and we look forward to seeing Eleanor’s interpretation of the brief.”

The nine month residency runs from 1 October 2016 to 30 June 2017.  The final exhibition will be held at Derby Museum and Art Gallery from 15 September 2017 to 19 November 2017.

For more information, call:  Rachael Grime on 01773 525861 or email:

Our Partners