Shelley artist crowned East of England Painter of the Year

Layham Road, Shelley
Michael Crowe won Eastern Region award for his painting at the 21st National Open
Art competition in London.
Picture Mark Westley
Layham Road, Shelley Michael Crowe won Eastern Region award for his painting at the 21st National Open Art competition in London. Picture Mark Westley

An artist from Shelley has won a prestigious award for his oil painting which earned top recognition from more than 4,000 entries.

Michael Crowe, 75, from Layham Road, was crowned the East of England Painter of the Year at the National Open Art competition in London, on Friday.

“It’s very thrilling to know that judges had seen something in the painting”

He received a £1000 prize for his painting Big Sky at Felixstowe Ferry, which is a scenic view he is very fond of.

“I was absolutely gob smacked,” said Michael whose wife, Jane, had suggested he enter the painting into the competition.

“The painting was on the wall in my study and my wife said it was very good and that I should do something with it.”

Winning the prize was a huge shock.

“I wasn’t even expecting to be selected,” said Michael.

“I haven’t entered a competition before.”

Michael is still deciding what he will spend the prize money on.

“I haven’t thought about what I will do with it but it will be something special,” he said.

Michael has always had an interest in art but since retiring 20 years ago, his hobby has turned into a passion which has inspired trips abroad.

He went on an expedition to the Arctic Circle in 2010 where he captured the unusual landforms in sketches.

“It was a terrific trip,” he said.

Michael’s winning painting is a culmination of over a hundred hours of work from various sketches at Felixstowe Ferry where he often draws alongside fellow artist Hugh Webster, who owns a studio converted from a boat-shed, at the beach.

“It’s a lovely place to go, it’s relatively unspoilt,” said Michael.

The pair have been good friends for more than 10 years and often discuss their work.

“We are like minded people,” said Michael.

“We share a lot of creative energy.”

Michael worked on a wooden panel to create his award- winning painting which has already been purchased.

“It’s very thrilling to know that judges had seen something in the painting and that someone has paid good money for it,” added Michael.

A selection of Michael’s work will be showcased next June as part of the Suffolk Open Studios programme.