Artist Julia Essex wins special art prize with painting ‘Poppies’- a beautifully crafted work and a “fitting commemoration in remembrance to the armistice of World War I”

Press Release- Leamington Studio Artists, East Lodge, Jephson Gardens, Leamington Spa, Warwickshire - Thursday 4th October 2018

Kicking off the Autumn in style, Leamington Studio Artists have launched one of their biggest exhibitions to date. The ‘Annual Open Paintings & Illustrations Exhibition’ running until 28th October, comprises a wonderful array of artworks to suit all tastes. On display at East Lodge Gallery, Jephson Gardens are beautiful landscapes, rich colourful abstracts, virtuosic figurative inks and watercolours- plus much more! As per usual, members of the public are warmly invited to come along and view the artworks for themselves and to see this year’s winning artwork.

The winner of the ‘Annual Open Paintings & Illustrations Exhibition 2018’ is Leamington Spa based artist, Julia Essex. Her painting, ‘Poppies’, took first prize out of a total 77 artworks on display.

With prizes totalling £150, this year’s judge was established artist and award-winning diorama expert, Marcus White. Also an article and feature editor for E Magazine, his work has been exhibited widely most notably at the Euro Miniature Expo 2018 and at ASVC Wombourne ScaleModel Show. With a strong interest in art history, military history and fine art techniques, Marcus, on judging the exhibition stated he had been, “honoured to preside as Judge over this prestigious local exhibition. 

“My first impression was of an ordered, yet visually captivating curation of local art, which showed a very good cross-section of artistic capabilities- a lovely exhibition.”

After carefully considering every work in the show, he duly chose Julia’s painting because of its, “refined impressionistic technique in modern acrylic, using elements of impasto in a controlled sweeping motion.” Marcus decided upon the painting, ‘Poppies’, also for its deeper sentimental value- the correlation between poppies and that of remembrance.

He stated, “with the 100th Anniversary of the Great War, it’s fitting to have this work as winner. It captures the old painterly styles within modern media and a compassion in brush stroke at a time of remembrance.”

On her winning work, Julia Essex said, “I am absolutely thrilled, I only started painting two years ago so this is a lovely surprise. I’ll certainly take a lot of encouragement from this and it’s nice to know I’m on the right track! This will spur me on with my painting and give me belief to try new techniques.”

“The quality of the exhibition is superb, there’s so much variety and there’s something for everyone. Leamington Spa has such a vibrant and welcoming artistic community, and getting involved with Leamington Studio Artists has been a fantastic experience.”

Julia Essex moved to Leamington Spa three years ago and is a ballet teacher by profession. She has always held a particular fondness for art and having only started painting seriously a few years ago; she has built up a strong and unique painterly style. Julia enjoys exploring the freedoms of painting especially expressive art and she likes to paint landscapes and natural scenes. Weather dependent- she has also tried her hand at en plein air painting! On her winning artwork, ‘Poppies’, her inspiration came from the beautiful surrounds and floral displays in Jephson Gardens, Leamington Spa.

About her artistic process she mentioned, “I like being quick and free with my painting and exploring the many textures and techniques available. If painting outdoors the challenge is also in capturing the changes of light and colour.”

On having received the prize and on what she plans to do next, she said, “I’m looking forward to the future and growing and learning as an artist. I’ll be taking part in next years Warwickshire Open Studios and I’d love to maybe one day have an exhibition of my own.”

This exhibition is a real testament to the talent the local area has to offer. Whilst judging, Marcus White highlighted a number of other pieces he particularly admired. A special mention goes out to Guy Chapman’s ‘The Old Gallion’, Beverley Healey’s ‘Winter Sun’, and Christopher P Jones’, ‘Hydra II’. All works are available to view at the East Lodge Gallery, Jephson Gardens. 

Members of the public are also invited to cast their vote in the People’s Choice Prize. One artist will win £50 so make your vote count by visiting the gallery and escaping the cold!

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Marcus White on other artworks of note:

Guy Chapman - ‘The Old Gallion’ 

“A brilliantly detailed pen illustration showcasing exquisite lines giving depth and character. It reminds me of the wood blocks from Albrecht Dürer.” - Marcus White

Beverley Healey - ‘Winter Sun’

“A reportage style photo capturing the little girl in photo-realist painterly fashion. I like the use of brush stroke and fine lines of the hair.” - Marcus White

Christopher P Jones - ‘Hydra II’

“A lovely use of oils, it reminds me of a Paul Cezanne. Verging on an abstract almost cubistic style, the painting leads the viewers eye centrally giving good balance to the work.” - Marcus White

Meurig Hughes- LSA Trustee and Volunteer

“Once more the LSA has brought a glittering array of dazzling and inspiring work to East Lodge. All credit to the artists who provided an eclectic mix of themes, media, and styles. Thanks also to the team of volunteers and Cathy, East Lodge manager for ensuring these fine works are able to be appreciated by visitors to East Lodge. A joy to see.” 

Soolie Burke- LSA Trustee and Volunteer Manager

“All of the artists have put their heart and soul into the artwork. I haven’t a favourite, it’s too difficult a decision!”

Background Information:

Judge for the ‘Annual Open Paintings & Illustrations Exhibition 2018’

Marcus White: marcus.white@yahoo.co.uk 

Youtube Channel


E magazine - “I’m an article and feature editor, one of my older works can be seen in issue 5, I’m currently leading on an Armistice Special to commemorate 100yrs since the end of WW1 - due out next month.”


One of his works can be seen in September edition of Airfix Model World.

His last show was Euro Miniature Expo 2018


This work featured in an exhibit on the Great War 1914-18.