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Painting of refugee sea rescue wins National Open Art's World Art Vote




A painting inspired by the moment hundreds of Libyan refugees were rescued at sea has won the 2017 MS Amlin World Art Vote organised by National Open Art.

Stephen Burgess' Refugee Rescue is inspired by an image taken from an Italian Navy helicopter. The artist became an active member of the Refugee Support Network after watching a TV documentary about Syrian and Libyan refugees.

Stephen said: “The boat had been at sea for six days yet the joy on people’s faces is undeniable. Lots of people have their faces turned to the sky, looking at the helicopter above them, and many have their hands raised. There is a real sense of relief to it –it’s the moment they realised they’ve been saved.”

Around 28,000 votes from 60 countries were cast in this year’s World Art Vote, with Stephen beating more than 700 artworks to win first prize.

The result means Refugee Rescue will be exhibited at the 21st National Open Art Exhibition at the Oxo Tower’s Bargehouse in November alongside 200 artworks selected by NOA’s judging panel, which this year includes the Royal Academy of Art's Hughie O’Donoghue, artist Jane McAdam Freud, former winner Kelvin Okafor and photographer Zelda Cheatle.

Further category winners will be announced when the exhibition opens in November and more than £50,000 worth of prizes awarded.

The 21st National Open Art Exhibition is free to enter and runs 17 to 26 November at Oxo’s Bargehouse.


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