Students’ artwork given winning stamp of approval

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Artwork by students inspired by Chester and North Wales has been chosen from hundreds of pieces to win a national competition and go on display across the UK.

Earlier this year Network Rail asked art students throughout Britain to design their very own postcard that represented places they missed during the pandemic and were looking forward to visiting again once travel restrictions had ended.

Entrants to the Wish I Was There competition submitted almost 270 pieces of work and University of Chester Fine Art students, Christopher Bunn and Nataliia Marchuk are delighted to be among the winning 20. Chris’s work depicts Llandudno Promenade in North Wales and Nataliia chose the historic Chester city centre as her subject.

Chris worked from his own photographs, sketches and memories, to create the piece where the viewer looks back towards the Llandudno shoreline, instead of the usual viewpoint of looking straight out to sea. The 35-year-old from Sandbach in Cheshire, and whose wife is Welsh, said that Llandudno was a meaningful place for him and he had always thought that even if it was raining in North Wales, he would prefer to be there rather than sitting in the sun elsewhere.

Nataliia’s work shows Chester’s most famous landmark, the Eastgate Clock, at sunset. The 22-year-old, originally from the Ukraine, said she loved sunsets in Chester because you could see the sky very clearly, with all the colours reflecting upon the buildings and streets, and it was her favourite time for a walk.

The paintings are now part of an exhibition celebrating special places the length and breadth of Britain and showcasing the next generation of artists and their extraordinary creativity. Each of the top 20 has also been awarded £2,500.

Chris is chalking up the wins after also recently triumphing in a competition held by My Clubmoor to transform the area around its community hub in the heart of Liverpool. Chris was named as one of three winners of the graphic design/typography/mural competition and will see his work transferred onto the shutters on the local shops next to their Community Hub.

Chris said: “I hope that people will get something positive from looking at my paintings and I am obviously pleased that more people are able to see my work through Network Rail’s competition. I am really happy to be sharing this experience with other artists across the country, and especially the talented Nataliia Marchuk.”

Nataliia added: “I felt very happy and honoured when I found out I had won. In a very subtle way, I shared some of my very dear personal experience through the painting I submitted. It means a lot to me than just a landscape of Chester and it is a great feeling to know that people across the UK can see it. I hope that this piece can make the day of whoever looks at it a bit brighter.”

Bernadine Murray, Associate Professor and Head of Art and Design at the University of Chester, said: “Congratulations to Chris and Nataliia for winning this nationwide competition.

“The judges have recognised their extraordinary work – and its power to move people. They are perfect choices for the exhibition to inspire visitors to think about the places that are special to them – and take a trip somewhere they’ve been longing to visit.”

Sir Peter Hendy CBE, Chair of Network Rail, said: “The standard of art submitted has been beyond exceptional and reflects how much we have all missed travelling.

“The railway has a long history of creating works of art to promote the destinations that people can travel to by train, and the art submitted completely and utterly reflects that. This art will become a part of history, documenting what has been an unprecedented time for all of us.”

The postcard exhibition ran at London Waterloo station for two weeks and is now touring the country, with a final stop in Scotland, as follows:

  • Reading Station: August 2 to 8
  • Liverpool Lime Street Station: August 9 to 15
  • Leeds Station: August 16 to 22
  • Glasgow Central Station: August 23 to 29.

For further information on the competition, and to visit an online shop where the artwork is available as postcards, greeting cards and posters, please visit: https://www.wishiwasthere.love and look out for the #wishiwasthere hashtag on social media.

To see more of Chris’s work, please go to: www.facebook.com/chris.bunn.712 www.instagram.com/cbunn_oilpainter or https://www.linkedin.com/in/chris-bunn-9b89a71b8/.

To take a look at more of Nataliia’s work, see: www.instagram.com/natalia_march_art.

The University of Chester Art and Design Department’s social media accounts can also be followed at: www.instagram.com/uoc_artanddesign and www.facebook.com/uocartanddesign.