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Artists battle it out in the Big Painting Challenge


Big Painting Challenge contestants Michael Pares and winner Althea Jones

We held our Big Painting Challenge on Monday 2 September in the Jellicoe Water Gardens, Hemel Hempstead. The event was open to amateur artists who had some experience.

The eight participants were supported by professional art tutor Niki Bell. Their challenge was to capture the spirit of Susan Jellicoe’s colourful planting scheme of flowers, shrubs and roses, set across Geoffrey Jellicoe’s formal flower garden, with its yew arches.

Susan Jellicoe worked very closely with her husband Geoffrey on the soft landscaping elements of his schemes, and the stunning planting in the flower garden is based on her original design. The flower garden forms part of the Jellicoe Water Gardens restoration project, funded by Dacorum Borough Council, the National Lottery Heritage Fund and the National Lottery Community Fund.

Cllr Graham Sutton, Portfolio Holder for Planning and Infrastructure, said: “We were delighted that Susan’s nephew Michael Pares and his wife Jennifer kindly agreed to judge the finished paintings. The selection of the overall winner must have been an incredibly difficult process, as the standard of work was absolutely fantastic.”

Overall winner, Althea Jones (pictured alongside Michael Pares), said: “It was an amazing day spent in a stunning garden, with great support. The quality of the design and planting in the Water Gardens meant there was so much colour. Winning was a bonus,  but the best thing was learning from Niki.”

The winner and two highly commended paintings will be on display for two weeks at the Open Door community space in Berkhamsted.

You can find out more about the Jellicoe Water Gardens and its restoration project by visiting our Jellicoe Water Gardens page.

Find out more about becoming a Friend of the Jellicoe Water Gardens.

  • Winner September 2019
  • Big Painting Challenge highly commended
  • Big Painting Challenge highly commended entry
  • Big Painting Challenge participants