The Bowes Museum > Exhibitions > 2016 > New Light

New Light

17 October - 7 February 2016

Hotly tipped as one of the most exciting shows of contemporary art in the region, the biennial open art prize - comprising a competition and accompanying exhibition - was devised and organised by the charity New Light, from which it takes its name. Its aim was to bring art alive via encouraging, celebrating and promoting the work of talented contemporary artists born, currently living or having studied in the North of England. 

Heading up a range of glittering awards was the prestigious Valeria Sykes Prize, worth £10,000 to the winner. The breadth of work submitted for the prizes made for an exhilarating and stimulating exhibition, and all the shortlisted artworks could be viewed by taking a look at the online catalogue here

Judges included Norman Ackroyd, one of the UK’s most famous contemporary printmakers; Lord Crathorne, Chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Arts and Heritage Group; art reviewer, Laura Gascoigne; Matthew Hall, Director of the Panter & Hall Gallery in London’s Pall Mall; and the CEO of New Light, Annette Petchey.

The shortlist was announced in September, with the exhibition starting at The Bowes Museum, after which it toured to the Mercer Gallery in Harrogate and the Panter and Hall Fine Art Gallery.

To coincide with the opening of the show, New Light and The Bowes Museum ran an innovative project with artist Vicky Holbrough and pupils from Ingleton Primary School. Using an artwork from the exhibition as a starting point, the children produced a piece of work to be retained at their school.

As part of its Art for All arm, New Light also worked with the Museum to organise workshops and talks for adults interested in acquiring or refining an art-based skill or learning more about purchasing art. For further information see

Related Events

Printmaking with Hester Cox

31 October, 9.30 – 4.00, Adults £35.00, Friends £30.00
Become part of the printmaking revival and spend a day looking at the varying methods of creating an original print. Be prepared to get your hands dirty as you learn two different ways of producing mono-prints in the morning and a small relief print in the afternoon.
This workshop is suitable for the complete beginner, no experience or materials needed - just bring yourself and your enthusiasm. Includes admission to The Bowes Museum and all materials. Places are limited so book here early to avoid disappointment.

Drawing the Human Figure with Emerson Mayes
14 November, 9.30 – 4.00, Adults £35.00, Friends £30.00
Ever wanted to have a go at drawing, but always been too nervous? Here’s the perfect opportunity to face that fear. The day will be spent with award-winning artist Emerson Mayes, who will guide you through a series of drawing exercises that will give you the confidence and know-how to tackle the creation of a finished drawing. 
The workshop will be structured so that it will be suitable to those who have never picked up a pencil before, through to the more experienced artist. The day will have a relaxed atmosphere and, most importantly, will be fun - no matter what the drawings look like! Includes admission to The Bowes Museum and all materials. Places are limited so book here early to avoid disappointment.

Capturing the Landscape with James Naughton
26 November, 9.30 – 4.00, Adults £35.00, Friends £30.00
Using the beautiful grounds of The Bowes Museum as inspiration together with the various landscapes hanging in The Bowes Museum and in the New Light Prize Exhibition, acclaimed contemporary landscape painter and shortlisted artist James Naughton will show participants how to successfully capture the scenery around them.  
This workshop is suitable for both the complete beginner and the more experienced painter. All you need is a ‘give it a go’ attitude to get the most out of the day. Includes admission to The Bowes Museum and all materials. Places are limited so book here early to avoid disappointment.

Exhibition Tour with New Light
21 January, 2.15, Free with Admission
An opportunity to walk round the New Light Prize Exhibition in the company of both an artist and a judge, gaining an insight into preparing works for an exhibition, how the short-list is selected and the tricky art of choosing the prizewinners. Booking is required.

‘Buying Art: Investment, Decoration or something else?’ with Matthew Hall
5 February, 3.00, Adults £12.50, Friends £10.00
Debate the ins and outs of ‘Collecting and Investing in Contemporary Art’ with London gallery owner, Matthew Hall. He will discuss what to take into consideration when assessing and buying contemporary art and the pleasures of art collecting.  
Having worked in commercial galleries in the Cotswolds and London for 10 years, Matthew established Panter & Hall, London in 2000 and currently deals in contemporary figurative and modern British painting. Matthew was also one of the judges for this year’s 2015 New Light Open Exhibition.

The Bowes Museum grounds are open!

Due to the government announcement on Thursday 17 December, that County Durham is to remain in COVID tier 3 restrictions, The Bowes Museum unfortunately will remain closed to all visitors. However, the grounds remain open to visitors from 10.00 - 4.00 daily, and we are currently hosting a woodland fairy trail, two spring trails and outdoor guided tours are available from 29 March 2021.

As we have already been shut for a number of weeks and there is much uncertainty around possible further restrictions, we have decided to use this period to undertake some work in Café Bowes, alongside performing some much-needed structural repairs to the building, notably to the windows. January and February are usually quieter times for the Museum, often due to severe weather, so we believe that this is the best time to carry out such works with the least amount of disruption to our visitors.

We have therefore decided to remain closed for a period of four weeks following any near-future tier 2 announcement from the government, as this will allow us time to deep clean the Museum prior to reopening our doors once again. We will, of course, keep you updated as the guidelines change.

Your ongoing support during these unprecedented times is hugely appreciated and we very much look forward to welcoming you back into the building as early as possible in 2021.

We hope to be able to offer a few COVID-safe outdoor events over the coming months, about which we shall make further announcements as soon as possible.