And the winner is…

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Jacqui Hallum, John Moores 2018 first prizewinner Over 2,700 artists entered the John Moores Painting Prize 2018, of which only 60 are exhibiting after a lengthy process that saw each work judged anonymously. Opening 14 July at the Walker Art Gallery, this year the Prize celebrates 60 years as Britain’s longest running painting competition, and today, the John Moores 2018 first prizewinner was announced. Artist Jacqui Hallum joins the revered John Moores Painting Prize alumni that includes David Hockney, Mary Martin, Peter Doig, Keith Coventry, Sarah Pickstone and Rose Wylie among others. We caught up with Jacqui when she was shortlisted and talked about her practice and what was to become the winning painting, King and Queen of Wands.
I’ve always been interested in the John Moores Painting Prize. I suppose there’s always a desire to be a part of something like this, to show painting within this ongoing survey of current painting. Bruce McLean is a maverick, so I knew this year would be fun. My winning piece, King and Queen of Wands, is part of a large body of work which borrows from the Rider Waite Tarot deck - but newer paintings feature disco dancing cats. In this work, with the King on one side and the Queen on the other, the space in between in a kind of ‘reading’, but the whole thing is also a body. I work on a number of painting elements at the same time. At some point some of these suggest a coming together. I might simply have pinned one over another and then tied it back to remind myself of the one beneath. Sometimes these elements might become part of more than one work. In all cases, the work is installed new in each gallery environment, there isn’t a definite version, there’s just a right version for that place. I like to think of the paintings as being quite open ended, but I suppose I lived with this one for about 6 months.
John Moores 2018 runs until 18 November 2018. Visit the online shop and pick up a commemorative limited catalogue featuring a choice of cover inserts, including King and Queen of Wands.