Evocative painting scoops popular prize.

Embargoed until 11.45am, Friday 23 November.

Images attached

A large ethereal landscape by Elizabeth Magill is winner of the John Moores Painting Prize Visitors’ Choice 2012, sponsored by Rathbones.

More than 5,000 people voted for their favourite of the 62 works, since the exhibition opened in September, but it was Sighting by Elizabeth Magill which captured the heart of most visitors and won the £2,012 prize.

Sighting (oil on canvas, 168 x 198.1 cm) appears to depict a dark woodland scene but on closer inspection unexpected, delightful details are revealed.

Attracted to its mystery, beauty and eerie atmosphere, the large and imposing painting was a popular choice with visitors.

As one visitor described it: “It has tremendous atmosphere and movement. It is mysterious, yet tangible. Colours are great. Bubbles are beautiful.”

Many were drawn to the work’s ambiguity, with one visitor commenting: “It evokes nostalgia and a feeling of being lost somewhere safe.” Another reminisced: “I love the fantasy in this painting; it takes me back to my childhood in Ireland.”

Once again the Visitors’ Choice is a different work to that chosen by the official judges, who this year awarded Sarah Pickstone the £25,000 first prize for Stevie Smith and the Willow.

Part of the Liverpool Biennial, the John Moores Painting Prize is the UK’s most prestigious painting prize and runs until 6 January.

You are invited send a reporter and photographer to the Walker Art Gallery for the official announcement of the winner on Friday 23 November at 11.30am.

Winning artist Elizabeth Magill, Andrew Morris and Alex Richmond of Rathbones and Sandra Penketh, Director of Art Galleries at National Museums Liverpool are available for photographs and interviews.

Notes to editors

Artist biography

Born in Canada in 1959 and moved to Northern Ireland in the early 60’s, Elizabeth Magill attended Belfast College of Art from 1979-82 and The Slade, London 1982-1984.

Group shows include British Art show 3 (Hayward touring) 1990-1, 0044 PS1 New York (touring) 1999, Primo Michetti, Foundazione Michetti, Italy 2000, The Glen Dimplex Awards Irish MOMA Dublin 2001, Interlude Douglas Hyde Gallery, Dublin, 2011. Solos include New Works, Southampton City Art Gallery 2000, Recent Paintings, The Hugh Lane Dublin 2002, Elizabeth Magill, Ikon Birmingham (touring) 2004-5, Chronicle of Orange Wilkinson Gallery London 2008, Green Light Wanes Towner Eastbourne (touring) 2011, Land-scape HITE Collection Seoul Korea 2012. Collections include Ulster Museum and the Government Art Collection.


Rathbone Brothers Plc has over 700 staff at 11 locations and is a leading, independent provider of investment services for private investors, charities and trustees. As at 30 September 2012 Rathbones had £17.35 billion of funds under management.

John Moores Painting Prize facts:

  • The John Moores Painting Prize is organised in partnership with the John Moores Liverpool Exhibition Trust
  • The John Moores Painting Prize is part of Liverpool Biennial, one of the UK’s largest and most exciting contemporary visual arts events. The 7th Liverpool Biennial International Festival of Contemporary Art, takes place from 15 September – 25 November 2012
  • The John Moores Painting Prize is the UK's biggest painting prize. The competition is entered anonymously and open to all UK-based artists working with paint
  • The first prize is £25,000, with four runner-up prizes of £2,500, one of which is sponsored by David M Robinson Ltd and another sponsored by National Museums Liverpool Corporate Members. This year the popular Visitors’ Choice prize, sponsored by Rathbones, awards its winner £2,012  
  • Supported by official hotel partner Hope Street Hotel, Liverpool and media partner a-n.

About National Museums Liverpool

National Museums Liverpool comprises eight venues. Our collections are among the most important and varied in Europe and contain everything from Impressionist paintings and rare beetles to a lifejacket from the Titanic.                                                          

We attract more than three million visitors every year. Our venues are the International Slavery Museum, Lady Lever Art Gallery, Merseyside Maritime Museum, Museum of Liverpool, Sudley House, UK Border Agency National Museum, Walker Art Gallery and World Museum.                    

One of the finest art galleries in Europe the Walker Art Gallery is home to renaissance masterpieces, Tudor portraits and one of the best collections of Victorian and Pre-Raphaelite art in the country. An outstanding collection of contemporary art includes work by David Hockney, Lucian Freud and Banksy.

Walker Art Gallery William Brown Street, Liverpool             Admission FREE
Open 10am-5pm every day                                                   Information 0151 478 4199
Website liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/walker

Twitter www.twitter.com/walkergallery

Facebook www.facebook.com/walkerartgallery

About Us

National Museums Liverpool comprises eight venues. Our collections are among the most important and varied in Europe and contain everything from Impressionist paintings and rare beetles to a lifejacket from the Titanic. We attract more than three million visitors every year. Our venues are the Museum of Liverpool, World Museum, the Walker Art Gallery, Merseyside Maritime Museum, International Slavery Museum, UK Border Agency National Museum, Sudley House and the Lady Lever Art Gallery.