Kevin Chester Wins ‘People’s Choice’ Award At The Lake Artists Society Annual Exhibition

Rheged Gallery is delighted to announce the winner of the People’s Choice Award in the Lake Artists Society Annual Exhibition.

The winning work is Baiana, a painting by Ulverston-based artist Kevin Chester. Inspired by Kevin’s experience of living in Salvador in Bahia, Brazil, the painting in oil on linen presents the figure of a Baiana in her traditional white lace dress.

Baianas are familiar figures in Afro-Brazilian culture: female descendants of Africans who were taken to Brazil into slavery. “The painting is a tribute to Baianas and their sense of identity, strength, beauty and dignity in the face of extreme and inhuman adversity,” said Kevin. “I am particularly drawn to the joyous, dynamic and beautiful way in which they express their identification with their African heritage - with its ideas, beliefs, arts, dance, music, cuisine and dress.”

Kevin was surprised and delighted that his painting had been selected from the 260 works in the exhibition as the favourite choice of Rheged visitors – who have been posting votes into a ‘People’s Choice’ ballot box in the Gallery during the past seven weeks.

“It’s not a typical painting that you’d expect to win this prize at a Lake Artists Society show – you’d expect a picture of Lakeland to win it,” he said. “It’s very encouraging that people have related to a cultural image that’s so different to their own culture, that they’ve identified with something beyond their everyday experience.”

“Art has no boundaries,” Kevin added. “As an artist I have always related to images and artistic expressions from different cultures. The whole point of art is transportation, whether it’s transporting the viewer to a memory or to another world.”

Kevin, who is also the outgoing President of the Lake Artists Society, joins the winners of five other categories whose awards – sponsored by local businesses - were announced when the Annual Exhibition opened in mid-September. The People’s Choice Award is sponsored by Northern Lights Gallery in Keswick.

Tim Fisher, owner of Northern Lights Gallery, said the painting was particularly poignant in 2021 in its depiction of a person and a place far away from Cumbria. He said: “Is there a longing in this painting, for better times gone and perhaps better times to come? The viewer is left to imagine how it would be to stand in front of this lady, perhaps chatting with her, sharing a glass of something cold down by the waterfront. There is indeed a sense of lost time that many people have felt these last two summers, not being able to travel overseas.”

There is just over a week left to enjoy the Lake Artists Society Annual Exhibition, which closes on 21 November. Displayed in Rheged’s large, spacious Gallery are 260 artworks by the historic society’s 45 members and carefully selected non-members, all of whom live and work in Cumbria. All are on display for the first time in the county, and many are still available to buy - including Baiana – from the Gallery and its online Gallery shop.

“The exhibition at Rheged has been an absolutely fantastic success,” Kevin said. “Coming out of the pandemic, we didn’t know what to expect. We were hoping that people would come to the exhibition and enjoy it and be uplifted and inspired by it. And judging by the feedback we’ve had, that’s exactly what has happened.”

The Lake Artists Society Annual Exhibition runs until 21 November at Rheged near Penrith. Entry is free between 9am and 5.30pm, and there is no need to book in advance. 

Kevin working on Baianna
Kevin working on Baianna