Stalybridge artist in line for £10,000 Castlegate Prize

THIRTY artists, including Stalybridge’s Ian McKay, have been named as finalists for a new £10,000 national art prize.

The Castlegate Prize was launched by Castlegate House Gallery in Cockermouth, Cumbria, last year, with all the entry fees going to mental health charity YoungMinds.


More than 700 entries were received by the gallery from all over the country for the competition, raising more than £12,000 for the charity.

The inaugural exhibition of finalists’ works at Castlegate House, and the announcement of the first Castlegate Prize winner, has now been postponed from May 2 to September 12 as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Meanwhile, all the finalists’ work can be viewed on the prize website

“We’re thrilled to have chosen the final 30,” said gallery owner Steve Swallow. “To get there from the near 700 entries was a very difficult task at times, such was the quality of work submitted.

“The final 30 represent a very broad spectrum right across the UK, with ages from 17 to 78. There are many standout pieces, but everyone could be a winner – the quality and ingenuity of ideas is that impressive.

“Getting to a winner, with all five judges agreeing, is going to be a very tough task indeed.”

The gallery received 700 entries from all over the country for the new national open art prize – raising more than £12,000 in the process for YoungMinds mental health charity. Paintings had to take inspiration from the word ‘Hope.’

Ian, 62, from Heyrod, entered one from a series of nine paintings he has done about mental health and depression.

The self-employed professional artist said: “Fortunately I have never suffered from the illnesses, but I come into contact with many who have.

“I lead a lot of community arts projects where I meet a lot of people who are isolated and vulnerable.

“Though the series of paintings were about depression, there is an element of hope in them.”
Ian, who was raised in Beswick, is one of 85 artists based at the Rogue Artists Studio, a former school in Higher Openshaw.

He worked for 25 years as a display artist for an exhibitions company with his work entailing sign writing and lettering. Jobs included working at the Motor Show.

Ian says he often features subjects which are of interest as with the old Collier Street Baths, which are the subject of a current exhibition at Salford Art Gallery.

And with Rogue Artists Studio shut, Ian is working from his garden shed and currently screen printing featuring scenes from the old East Germany.

Ian’s work can be seen on his website

To see the work of the 30 Castlegate Prize finalists, go online to

Castlegate House Gallery, which was bought by Steve and Christine Swallow in 2012, specialises in the best of twentieth century and contemporary British art.

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