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Public Open Exhibition 2023

The 2023 Public Open Exhibition has attracted disabled and non-disabled contemporary visual artists across the UK. Selected pieces have been shortlisted by a panel of industry professionals to be part of the public exhibition at LEVEL Centre over the summer.

The standard of submissions was outstanding, truly showcasing a broad range of art styles and techniques. The panel has selected two pieces to win first and second prize along with winners in the 7-11 and 12-17 categories. The cash prize for first and second place are sponsored by Peak Village in Rowsley who have chosen Level as their Charity of the Year.

But who will win the People’s Choice Award? You can vote for your favourite artwork below, or pop into the centre and see the exhibition in person and vote during your visit. The work with the most votes will win a bundle of art goodies from sponsor Turners Arts Supplies.

Adult Category

First Place:
‘When my Right Side Won’t Listen’ (acrylic on black card)
by Grace Currie

An accident in 2010 resulted in a severe brain injury which left Grace with interrelating disabilities and her own unique and neurodivergent view of the world. The work explores the frustrations of living with right sided neglect, reflecting the sense of disorientation Grace feels when their mind and body don’t synchronise. Grace sometimes don’t know which way is up, making them dizzy.

Out of many fantastic submissions, we were all unanimous in our selection for first
prize. Grace Curries’ entry, “Which Way Up” depicts two women, one upside down
and both with their right legs missing. Her powerful paintings explore her social
identity – and how, as a disabled woman, society reduces her in some people’s eyes
to child status. This is an identity that she resists but draws attention to in her
childlike portraits of figures or faces. The compelling narrative behind the piece and
the artist’s sheer determination and talent earned them our first prize place.
Congratulations Grace!

Amelia Baron

Arthouse, Wakefield

Second Place:
‘Suzie’ (acrylic on canvas)
by Martine Danelle Coello

Suzie used to be Martine’s cat, it was the family cat. She is a beautiful cat. A clever cat! Martine loves drawing, painting, singing and dancing. They are really excited about seeing their art in an exhibition and where this will lead next. Martine also likes painting houses, boxes and televisions.

Martine’s painting is simply a joy, and it was a delight to discover it as part of the Open Exhibition this year. We loved how playful and expressive it is, with fantastic colour combinations and wonderful mark-making that captures the love of a much cherished family cat. I’m so pleased to have Martine’s work featured in the show and award this artwork a much deserved prize.

Bella Milroy


7-11 Category

‘Mountains’ (Acrylics on canvas)

by Azalea Wragg

Azalea’s piece was inspired by a recent holiday to France. From where they were staying they had views of the Pyrenees. Azalea loves all subjects at school and in her spare time she enjoys swimming, playing cricket, and being with her friends and family – especially her twin cousins.

12-17 Category

‘Self-portrait’ (pencil, pastels and acrylic paint)

by Nico Valdez

Nico’s work is a self-portrait, expressed in the style of pop art turning a somewhat ordinary portrait into a vibrant and dynamic expression of colour. Nico spends every free moment with a pencil or pen creating drawings. His particular interest is cartoon characters. 

Public Choice Award

First and second place may have been decided but you can still vote for your favourite piece in The Public Choice Award, sponsored by Turners Arts Supplies!

You can vote by visiting the exhibition in person at LEVEL or online below
until 5pm on Wednesday 30 August.

Please only vote once for your favourite piece.

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