Pete Underhill wins The Attenborough Award for ‘Naughty Sugar’

Pete Underhill is a portrait painter who has previously exhibited prize-winning work at the RBSA Gallery. From his blog, Pete gives his account of winning The Attenborough Award during Leicester’s Open Exhibition.

The Attenborough Award is a prize established by Richard Attenborough in 2007 to celebrate emerging talent in the Visual Arts. It consists of a First Prize and two Runner Up Prizes and centres around the Leicester Open Exhibition organised by Leicester City Council and sponsored by Leicester City Museums Trust.

Open 30 – Leicester’s annual open art exhibition, showcasing art and craft by local and regional artists at New Walk Museum and Art Gallery, took place from Saturday 14 December 2019 up until Friday 24 January 2020.

I was overjoyed at the Private View of ‘Open 30’ at the New Walk Museum, Leicester that my painting of Hannah Matthews, ‘Naughty Sugar’ was awarded the First Prize.

Naughty Sugar, Pete Underhill

There was no prior warning that I’d won the award, luckily we arrived early enough for the announcement. We got seated in The Victorian Gallery – the location of the preamble – before the room filled up. After the speech by the Deputy Leader of the Council, proceedings slid into the prize giving. Applause as artists collected their certificates, then “And finally, The First Prize of the Attenborough Award goes to…” In real life, they don’t do that ten seconds of agonising silence before announcing the winner that has become an essential part of reality TV game shows. My name came at me like a bolt from the blue! A definite head-spinning moment or two!

Once in the gallery, I posed beneath the painting for PR photos, as one does, before being swept along in a string of enthusiastic conversations.

I was lucky enough to have two paintings included in the exhibition. Tom, Dick and Harry quietly oversaw proceedings from a few feet away.

The energy at the private view was great, and we felt a fizz of enthusiasm in the little area around my work.

I really must add that I couldn’t have painted Naughty Sugar without the invaluable collaboration with photographer Meg Franklin who generously allowed me to base the painting on her work.

By Pete Underhill

About Us

The Royal Birmingham Society of Artists (RBSA) is an artist-led charity which supports artists and promotes engagement with the visual arts through a range of exhibitions, events and workshops.

The RBSA runs an exhibition venue – the RBSA Gallery – in Birmingham’s historic Jewellery Quarter, a short walk from the city centre. The gallery is open 7 days a week and admission to all our exhibitions is free.

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