Still chance to vote for favourite artwork

THERE is still time for people to vote for their favourite piece of artwork in this year’s exhibition organised by Wells Art Contemporary (WAC), which remains in Wells Cathedral until September 2.

The People’s Choice Prize will be announced at the end of the exhibition, awarding £500 to the artist who receives the most public votes. In 2022, 5,000 visitors voted for their favourite work.

When the WAC 2023 exhibition opened its doors on Friday, August 4, for a special presentation evening, seven outstanding artists received awards ranging from £2,000 in cash to a residency in France. 

Two of these successful artists are from Somerset: Rob Irving from Frome won the JGM Gallery Prize for his atmospheric video artwork, Breathe. It which will now be included in an online showcase from the West End-based gallery. Rob works primarily with photography, experimental moving images, sound, and text. This compelling video installation that caught the judges attention is described by Rob as capturing “natural sounds of wind, rustling barley, birdsong, insects, and hints of grasshopper overlaid with quiet yogic breathing”.

It is Rob’s second win. “I have special memories of Wells Cathedral and love visiting, so to see my films there with so many other fine artworks is thrilling. I’m delighted to have won top awards two years running. This both encourages me and presents a challenge for next time,” he said.

Meanwhile, Leah Hislop, a site specific installation and sculpture artist from Taunton, won the Somerset Art Works (SAW) Prize for her installation, A Safe Space. Like Rob, this is Leah’s second award, following her SAW prize in 2021.

“Winning the award the first time gave me the confidence and support to push my practice forward,” Leah said, and led to her exploring a different medium. A Safe Space is constructed entirely from paper from donated and unwanted books. It is made of triangles that have been individually hand folded, with the three points reflecting the themes of the Holy Trinity.

For anyone unable to attend the exhibition in person, the works can be viewed at

Picture: Hatchings by Rachel Goodison