Art enthusiasts turned out in strength for one of the highlights of the arts calendar on September 23 – the launch of this year’s Surrey Artist of the Year Competition exhibition at the New Ashgate Gallery in Farnham.

More than 300 visitors attended the private viewing over a two-hour period, filling the two floors of the gallery to see work by 20 artists exhibiting in a range of styles and media.

Among the invited guests were the mayor of Farnham, Alan Earwaker, and last year’s winner Jessica Stroud who works in stained glass. Her win last year has given her the opportunity to put together a show case of new work currently on view at the gallery.

The Surrey Artist of the Year Competition has been run in partnership by the New Ashgate and the Surrey Artists Open Studios since 2009 to celebrate the wealth of creative talent in Surrey.

This year’s short-listed artists are: Cathy Brett (illustrations, books, prints, paintings, models, dioramas, automata, graphic novels and ‘art happenings’), Jane Browne (tapestries), Eli Delbaere (mixed media with inspiration from the Fluxus movement and folk art), Grace Ellen (landscapes), Emma Godden (ceramics), Keira Graham (fabric artwork), Luke Adam Hawker (pen and ink drawings), Ginny Singh (watercolours, acrylics, pastels, gouache, and charcoal), Denise Jaques (mosaic art) , David Johns (watercolour and acrylics), Sophie Kathleen (illustrator and artist using art as activism), Faye Mayo (contemplation figures), Vicky O’Leary (mixed media paint and embroidery), Jo Olney (mixed media), Esther Pritchard (seascapes and wild meadows), Laura Ritchie (graphic designer and painter), Louise Rowe (intimate pen and ink drawings of wildlife and buildings), Lindsey Southworth (print maker), Dawn Thornhill (nature-inspired paper cut lightboxes) and Angie Wallace (wildlife studies in pastels and pencil).

Many of the artists take their inspiration from nature or reflect on memory and while others create more political work focusing on their passion for feminism, LGBTQ+ empowerment and taboo tackling subjects. Art works on display range from wildlife studies,seascapes and landscapes to sculptural wall art and tapestry.

Their work can be viewed at the New Ashgate until November 5 and members of the public are invited to vote for their favourite artist until midday on October 14. The artist with the most votes from the public and judging panel will be named Surrey Artist of the Year 2022 and receive a bursary of £1,000, a solo show at the New Ashgate Gallery and a complimentary Winner’s Stand at the Surrey Contemporary Art Fair.