September 3 2014 Latest news:

An atmospheric picture of a temple in southern Burma has won a Suffolk artist the first ever art prize from the Holt Festival.

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Katherine Hamilton from Reydon near Southwold won the coveted award and £1,500 cash prize which she collected from movie legend and keen artist John Hurt, who was among the judges.

The oil on canvas was one of two entries by Katherine shortlisted in the new competition aimed at promoting the creation of new work and encouraging emerging artists.

The winning picture, which will also go on show in a gallery London’s New Bond Street later, is described by its creator as showing a single figure in a holy place “flooded with light and darkness”, where she was “struck by the peace of this place compared to the chaos outside.”

Katherine studied art in Florence and London before training in contemporary dance, which saw her work as a dancer and choreographer in New York and set up a dance school in Ethiopia. She returned to painting based in Italy, then France and Spain before moving to East Anglia in 1992. Her work has attracted praise from novelist PD James.

She said she was very honoured to win the award and was planning her next overseas painting trip to Namibia to capture the African desert landscapes in the autumn.

The first ever competition attracted nearly 400 entries. Organiser, art expert and dealer James Glennie said they were delighted with the number of entries from professional and amateur artists from all over the UK and “especially impressed with the range and quality” in the inaugural competition.

Mr Hurt, who was a teenage art student before turning to an acting career, presented the award last night at a private view of a display of some of the shortlisted works which will run at the Ben Nicholson Gallery at Gresham’s School Holt throughout the Holt Festival. His fellow judges were EDP arts writer Ian Collins and head of contemporary art at The Fine Art Society Kate Bryan.

All shortlisted pictures and a full festival programme can be found at holtfestival.org

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