Entertainment & Arts

Artist Michael Simpson wins John Moores Painting Prize

Michael Simpson
Image caption Simpson said the prize money was "going to go to a good cause"

Michael Simpson has won the John Moores Painting Prize, 25 years after he first came close to taking the title.

The 76-year-old, who received the £25,000 prize for Squint (19) at Liverpool's Walker Art Gallery, was one of the shortlisted artists in 1991.

Simpson, who has also made the prize longlist on three other occasions, said finally winning was "very nice indeed".

Judge Ansel Krut said Squint (19) was "quite extraordinary", even though it was a "difficult painting to look at".

The work depicts a leper squint, which Simpson said were "holes made in the sides of medieval churches so the undesirables could look through to the service and somehow take part".

He said it was one of a series of paintings he has been working on, some of which were "much bigger".

Image copyright NML
Image caption Judge Ansel Krut said the panel "couldn't have asked for a better painting" to win the title

The relatively small size of Squint (19) - which is about 7ft (2.1m) in height - was one of the reasons Simpson entered it into the competition, though he also admitted that it "seemed to be a good idea to send one that I was conversant with and was working with".

He said the prize money would be spent on "stretches, canvas and - particularly - good quality paints".

"I spend a lot of money on materials, so this money is going to go to a good cause."

Krut said Simpson's piece was "a little bit like a tone poem - when you spend some time with it, it gradually starts to build a picture".

"Technically, it's very subtle and his language is very minimal, very reduced, but when you enter into it, you get into this broad field of great sympathy, because of the subject matter.

"We couldn't have asked for a better painting."

Established in 1957, the biennial John Moores Painting Prize is one of Britain's oldest art awards.

Previous winners include David Hockney and Peter Doig. Sir Peter Blake, who is now the prize's patron, won the junior title in 1961.

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