Eastern Open judging gets under way at King’s Lynn Arts Centre

Yes, yes, no - maybe. Judging was in full swing today for Britain's biggest open art competition.

This year's Eastern Open has attracted nearly 650 works by 300 artists, from as far afield as Lincolnshire and the Thames Estuary. hey're competing for a first prize of �3,000.

Judges prof Nick de Ville, Anna Lucas and Poul Webb spent the day poring over a never-ending procession of prints and canvasses of all shapes and sizes.

Winners will be announced as works go on show at King's Lynn Arts centre, on Saturday, April 2.

As well as the 42nd Eastern Open, this year's event marks a milestone for the arts centre.

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Once threatened by council cut-backs, the complex is being taken over by the King's Lynn Arts Centre trust.

Liz Falconbridge, West Norfolk's arts manager, and her team, will continue running the galleries.

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'The Eastern Open's one of the things we do that people really felt wouldn't work elsewhere,' she said. 'It was born here and we have the space to display so many works.'

Prof de Ville, who was on his first-ever trip to Lynn, was impresssed by both the standard of entries and the surroundings.

'There's a lot of interesting work, it's a very catholic cross-section of contemporary production,' he said. 'In terms of the paintings they're a very interesting cross-section.

'I haven't been to King's lynn before but I'm very struck by the architectural infrastructure of the town.'

The Arts Centre galleries were set to be closed down as part of a West Norfolk council spending review.

But anger erupted among the local arts community. And as protests hit the street, the council let campaigners cast their eye over the books to see if they could formulate a rescue plan.

The King's Lynn Arts Centre Trust's proposals were accepted by the council, which agreed it could take over the running of the galleries.

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