Portsmouth alumnus wins prestigious art award

A section of Gary Lawrence's drawing depicting an NHS surgeon as an angel

Gary Lawrence has been awarded first place and $8000 at the most prestigious annual open exhibition for drawing in the UK

  • 13 October 2021
  • 4 min read

University of Portsmouth alumnus, Gary Lawrence has won first prize of the Trinity Buoy Wharf Drawing Prize 2021 out of over 3,000 entries.

Gary has been awarded first place and $8000 at the most prestigious annual open exhibition for drawing in the UK, for his piece, entitled Ye Olde Keyhole Surgery. The competition received entries from 1,673 drawing practitioners living across 46 countries, making up 3,300 entries. 

Gary studied at the University of Portsmouth, or as it was then known Portsmouth Polytechnic between 1978 and 1981, before going on to study Fine Art at Eastern Illinois University and Southern Illinois University. 

Gary’s winning art piece was inspired by The Dormition, a medieval icon featuring the Virgin Mary laying on her deathbed, reminding Gary of an operating table. Having recently had surgery himself, this sparked the idea for a new subject, ‘keyhole surgery NHS 1392 style’. 

The intricate drawing uses religious imagery, including NHS surgeons being depicted as angels complete with halos, embodying the power of good in the struggle of life against death. 

Gary Lawrence's drawing in depicting an NHS surgeon as an angel

Ye Olde Keyhole Surgery, Gary Lawrence 2020

The selection panel for the awards changes yearly and all work is presented anonymously, meaning the panel were unaware this is Gary’s fifth award to date, having received First Prize in 2011 and 2017, Second Prize in 2018 and a Special Commendation in 2013. 

Gary, who now lives and works in Essex has exhibited his work at group and solo shows including Trinity Buoy Drawing Prize, London (2018); John Moores Walker Gallery, Liverpool (2018); BP Portrait Award, National Portrait Gallery, London (2017); Beecroft Gallery, Southend (2013); Christopher Stokes Gallery, Chicago (1996); Artemisia Gallery, Chicago (1991). 

Some of Gary’s recent awards include the John Moores Visitor Choice Award (2018); the Trinity Buoy Wharf Drawing Prize, Second Prize (2018) and the Jerwood Drawing Prize, First Prize (2017).

The Trinity Buoy Wharf Drawing Prize 2021 exhibition will open to the public at Trinity Buoy Wharf in November 2021, before touring to Drawing Projects UK in Wiltshire and other venues.

There is a fully illustrated exhibition publication available to purchase, and many of the drawings included in the exhibition are for sale. 

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