An advertising photographer from Worcestershire has scooped top prize at the West Midlands Open exhibition.
Lorentz Gullachsen, from Worcestershire, took the £1,000 prize at the awards held at the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery for his portrait of Merseyside bricklayer Mike Ashurst in a cowboy outfit.
More than 1,500 entries were submitted to the competition, which welcomes submissions for all artists living in the West Midlands. The entries were reduced down to 109, now on public display until May 2.
Mr Gullachsen’s piece, entitled In The American West Midlands, comes from a larger body of work where he photographed numerous profiles of people dressed in various cowboy attire.
The 59-year old, who is best know for his work in advertising, said he was taking a new direction after studying for a Masters at the University of Birmingham.
He said: “I was extremely shocked, it was a real honour to be in the company of such a good collection of artists, to have two images selected for the show is fantastic, to win first prize is mind-blowing.
“I have practised advertising photography for a long time but I recently went back to university to do an MA and the images were part of this. It is all about identity and has been very well received.”
Judges at West Midlands Open’s awards ceremony picked three of the best artworks from those short-listed.
The £500 second prize went to painter James O’Hanlon, from Selly Park, for his From The Rooftop of Reuters - West Bank (2010)
Tobias Saunders’ visual arts piece Documentation for Copyright (2007) received the £250 third prize.
The panel of judges included Lubaina Himid, professor of contemporary art at the University of Central Lancashire, the artist Harminder Singh
Judge and curator Alex Boyd from the Oriel Davies Gallery in Powys, Wales.
Alex Boyd said: “The process of selecting the prize-winning works was unanimous and we were each drawn to the three winning pieces.
“It seemed that these had the strength to stand up on their own, to have a presence beyond that of the artist as an individual and to engage with critical dialogues within contemporary arts practices. “
Councillor Martin Mullaney, cabinet member for leisure, sport and culture, said: “It is great that, with the Gas Hall at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Birmingham can offer these artists such a prestigious venue to show their work.”
The original artwork is available to purchase when the exhibition closes. For more information visit www.bmag.org.uk or call 0121 303 1966.